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Government Print Management FAQ

What is the GPO?

The United States Government Publishing Office (GPO) is the organization that procures customized print products for federal government agencies. GPO is required by Title 44 of the U.S. Code to be the centralized resource for gathering, cataloging, producing, providing, authenticating and preserving published information. Further, as required by Title 44, virtually all federal agencies are required to use GPO to procure their print.

How much GPO and government work is available through Government Print Management services?

GPO procures over $350,000,000 worth of work annually with millions more procured through other (state and local) government organizations. 

What type of print products does the GPO procure?

The list encompasses everything from composition to copy work to high quality museum pieces. Some of these items include: books of all binding styles, CD-ROM and DVD-ROM replication, die cutting, kit folders, cut sheets, 4-color process products, business form specialties, continuous forms, snap-apart sets, labels, decals, screen printing, printing of non-paper, thermography, engraving, foil stamping, embossing, tabloids, lamination, engineering drawings, tags, advertising specialties, direct mail, envelopes and many more.

Does the size and capability of my print company influence our opportunity to compete for work?

One of the most common myths about the GPO is “GPO jobs are too big or too small for my business.” Neither is true. For those interested in large jobs, there are print suppliers now that earn enormous sums of money from the GPO by winning only a handful of single-award jobs during any given year. For example, a job for the Internal Revenue Service could be awarded for hundreds of thousands of dollars. On the other hand, a supplier that prefers small jobs in the several hundred dollars per job range can find plenty of GPO work. Millions are made that way every year too.

What effect does the location of my print company have on my chances for success?

Your company’s location may affect your chances of winning particular GPO contracts in three ways: First, geographic restrictions are generally discouraged because it is GPO’s policy to encourage maximum competition consistent with the contract requirements. When customer agencies seek to include them, Government Print Management proactively tries to get them removed or replaced with an “assumed” geographic production area that allows you to bid and then demonstrate your ability to meet the production schedule if you are the low bidder. Second, location may affect your bid if the solicitation calls for a bid price based on “f.o.b. destination” (which requires freight costs to be included in the bid price) rather than “f.o.b. contractor’s city” (which allows bidders to exclude freight from the bid price). Third, bidders that produce their work within the United States have a competitive advantage over foreign companies under the Buy American Act, 41 U.S.C. §§ 10a-10d, which gives domestic companies a 6-12% pricing advantage over printing that is produced abroad.

Will my firm be required to obtain bonding on jobs performed for the government?

There is no bonding requirement for work performed for the GPO. Within states and other government entities bonding on print jobs is sometimes required, but it has historically been on less than 10% of the jobs.

How does the GPO award work?

GPO strives for a fair, open and competitive procurement system, which in most cases means awarding work to the qualified bidder that submits the lowest price – known as the “low responsive and responsible bidder.” The exact award procedure varies depending on the type and value of the contract. Most GPO contracts are “small purchases” that average only $2500 per job, but which cannot exceed $100,000 in value. Small purchases are awarded through informal solicitations that request price quotation from at least three registered GPO print suppliers. Quotations are not actual offers and can be withdrawn before award. Contracts that are less than $100,000 can be awarded through a formal bidding process, but must be awarded through a formal bidding process if valued over $100,000. Formal contracts have no dollar limit and require bidders to submit sealed or faxed bids that are opened publicly at GPO. These bids typically must be valid for at least 60 days and can be for either one-time jobs or year-long term contracts (also known as “programs”) that can be renewed for up to five years. Lastly, there are ongoing contracts known as “Simplified Purchase Agreements” (SPAs) that are written and procured by GPO and administered (with GPO’s concurrence) by the customer agencies themselves.

Does Government Print Management offer opportunities outside of the GPO?

In addition to GPO, we offer state and local level opportunities. Dealing with this wide variety of sources can be challenging without our assistance, because rules and regulations vary from agency to agency. Government Print Management cuts through this red-tape and opens up markets for our clients.

Do states and local governments follow the same print procurement rules as GPO and other federal government agencies?

GPO is an arm of Congress and follows its own rules. These are detailed in the GPO Contract Terms, Printing Procurement Regulation, Paper Specification Standards and additional materials specific to GPO practices. Other federal agencies fall under the executive branch and are subject to the more complex Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). States and local governments each have their own set of purchasing rules and regulations. Government Print Management understands each of these procurement methodologies and has experience dealing with the full-range of contracting requirements.

What is involved in becoming eligible to bid on GPO work and how does your firm assist in this process?

A printer must register with and be certified by GPO to become an eligible contractor. As is often the case when dealing with government agencies, the GPO’s registration/certification process and associated procedures can be difficult to successfully navigate. Those lacking familiarity and experience with the process are often frustrated by avoidable challenges and pitfalls. The Government Print Management team has over 40 years expertise working daily with GPO and helping clients compete for and win work. We handle all the details associated with this process, ensuring that our clients are certified to their highest achievable quality level and enabling them to be eligible for the highest number of GPO opportunities.

Why should my company work with Government Print Management?

The processes, procedures and insight required to successfully work directly with the GPO can be intimidating and are typically more complex than working with the commercial sector. A professional government print management firm knows the ropes and can help by providing advice and counsel about how to work with the GPO, state and local governments.

What makes Government Print Management unique in the marketplace?

We are a full service consulting firm that manages the details required to build sales volume and profitability in GPO and other government markets. We offer the complete spectrum of services required to position our clients for success and execute on the opportunities. These services include registration and certification, training, customer care and technical support, solicitation targeting, pricing development guidance, bid submission and follow-up, legal consultation and invoicing.

Are projects from GPO and other government agencies all low margin business? How can this help my bottom line?

Many print firms have discovered that GPO work can provide significant profit contribution if properly targeted and managed. While some GPO projects are awarded at levels that exceed commercial rates, successful suppliers have discovered that sustained profit contribution is derived from GPO when it is viewed as a secondary market utilized to fill open production capacity. They charge less for targeted GPO jobs where the work can be performed during periods of otherwise idle capacity. This approach provides income for those periods when fixed equipment and staffing costs would otherwise have no offsetting revenues. The key to optimizing profit from GPO work is to know when to bid high and when to bid low, since both strategies can improve the bottom-line. By consistently filling downtime with GPO jobs, printers can increase their annual income from 3% to 14% or more.

Our company has attempted to compete for GPO work in the past but had limited success. How will it be different working with Government Print Management?

Our printer clients are winners in the GPO market because Government Print Management is not a bid solicitation service, but rather a strategic partner whose success is tied to your success. Helping you find the right contracts and understand the winning pricing strategies are only a small part of our services. When a solicitation contains a geographic restriction that excludes your company, we proactively try to get it removed. When a job is assigned an unnecessarily high quality level rating that restricts competition, we find out why and push for a lower rating. When bidding competitors make an error in bid, we point this out to the GPO and ensure that only proper bids are considered. When GPO visits on a press sheet inspection we either represent you at the inspection or stay on call to address any problems that arise. When GPO fails to make payments on time, we step in to identify the hold-up and get it resolved without delay. With over 40 years of expertise in working daily with GPO, we know how to guide our clients to success.

Does our print company need a sales force focused on GPO?

Government Print Management can assist you regardless of your inherent sales capabilities. If a sales function exists in your organization, we work in concert with your salespeople. If no sales resources exist, we act as your sales force. Either way, we ensure that all vital functions necessary to support GPO sales efforts are in place.

How do we get started working with Government Print Management?

As a first step before beginning a relationship, we ensure that both parties achieve confidence in the program’s potential for success. We provide, at no cost, a thorough review of your capabilities and quality level and then assess your fit for the government market. Through this due diligence, we ensure that a new partnership only begins if mutually beneficial.

Is Government Print Management a government owned or affiliated agency?

No.  We are a privately held independent print management firm specializing in GPO and government sales.