Monday, November 12, 2012

GPO strategy: Publishing from any source, in any format

In an environment in which most documents are created, transmitted and consumed electronically, the Government Printing Office has released a five-year strategic plan focused on turning the government’s printer into a digital information platform.

“The demand for printed publications has declined while there has been exponential growth in digital requirements,” the plan says. “GPO is transforming its business model to a content-centric model, focusing on managing content for customer and public use today and tomorrow.” This calls for increased use of electronic media.

The direction is not a new one for the 151-year-old GPO, which has been shifting its focus from ink-on-paper toward digital documents for the last 18 years. What is new is the speed and extent of the transformation, said Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks.

“Any agency that has lasted as long as we have has had a history of change,” Vance-Cooks said. “The change we are experiencing today is far more rapid than anything we have experienced before.”
The level of sophistication expected by GPO customers is increasing, she said. “We are putting the information into any format that is wanted. We have to make sure that we watch the trends.”

GPO has been making documents and publications available online since 1994, when it created the GPO Access Web site. This was upgraded to the Federal Digital System (FDsys) portal in 2009, which included the ability to digitally sign and authenticate online documents, giving them the status of official records. This is an important element of GPO’s digital document management, Vance-Cooks said.

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