Federal Budget Possibilities and GPO’s Plans

Mary Alice Baish Assistant Public Printer, Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO).

Welcome to the January/February FDLP Connection. This issue focuses on the theme of preservation and includes a plethora of timely, educational articles. We hope you enjoy learning about the very successful automated Web Harvesting pilot project initiated by our talented harvesting team in Library Services and Content Management (LSCM). We are showcasing our partnership with the George A. Smathers Library at the University of Florida for the digitization and cataloging of five specialized collections, as well. If, after reading it, you would like to learn more about our digitization partnerships, please contact Senior Planning Development Specialist This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please join me in congratulating the January/February Library Spotlight, the State Library of Illinois.

Federal Budget Crisis Looms 

Earlier this month, Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks held Town Meetings for all three GPO shifts and our regional offices to explain, as she put it, the “perfect storm.” She was referring to the convergence of three events and their potential impact on our operations, services and strategic investments.

The first is the sequester, which is scheduled to take effect March 1. At the end of the year, President Obama signed the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2013 that postponed automatic across the board spending cuts to all Federal agency budgets from January 1 to March 1. The legislation reduced the original amount of the spending cuts that would be implemented for non-defense Federal agencies in FY13 from 8.2% to 5.3%. In addition, the impact of agency budget cuts on GPO’s printing and related information products and services is impossible to predict and is, therefore, of great concern.

This would mean a cut of about $6.7 million to GPO’s FY13 appropriations, including approximately $1.9 M to the Salaries and Expenses (S&E) that funds the Federal Depository Library, Cataloging & Indexing, International Exchange and By-law distribution programs. The S&E cuts will impact the amount of print titles distributed to depository libraries, delay planned ingest of new content into FDsys, necessitate reductions in contracts (potentially including the Fall 2013 Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference), and more. 

Second, along with the pending sequestration, the current continuing resolution under which GPO and the rest of the Government have been operating since the beginning of FY13 will expire on March 27. It is expected that Congress and the President will enact funding legislation for the remainder of the fiscal year, but the levels of funding are uncertain at this time, particularly as they would follow the sequestration cuts. And, if legislation is not enacted and the continuing resolution expires, all Federal agencies will have to commence orderly shutdown procedures due to the lapse of funding authority.

And third, in late January, Congress and President Obama agreed on legislation to extend the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling to May 19. The debt ceiling is the level Congress imposed on how much debt the government can carry at any time. The question is whether additional spending cuts may be proposed as part of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling by the new deadline.

Acting Public Printer Vance-Cooks Testifies on Sequestration and the NAPA Report

  • Acting Public Printer, Davita Vance-Cooks.
  • On February 26, Acting Public Printer Vance-Cooks had the opportunity to discuss the potential impact of sequestration on GPO and comment on the recommendations from the recent report on GPO by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), with members of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Legislative Branch Appropriations. I encourage you to read Vance-Cooks’ Prepared Statement before the Subcommittee and also watch the video of the hearing. In her statement, Vance-Cooks described GPO’s technology transformation from ink-on-paper to the recent highly successful extension of our information dissemination products to mobile apps and bulk data download files. She also explained that GPO has produced passports for the Department of State since 1926; has incorporated a digital chip and antenna into them since 2005; and, in 2012, passed the milestone of producing the 75 millionth electronic passport.

    Vance-Cooks’ statement about the potential impact of sequestration on GPO is sobering due to the uncertainty of the impact of reduced revenues on our agency. She noted that management is prepared to implement freezes on hiring, overtime, performance awards, training, travel and maintenance not required for health or safety. In addition, there may be furloughs—but only as a last resort. She described in detail the impact of sequestration on Congressional printing, public access, services for Federal agencies, and GPO’s strategic investments which are critical to our future transformation. 

    Vance-Cooks also commented on the 10-month NAPA study and its report, Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping American Informed in the Digital Age. She noted how pleased we are that the report affirms that “GPO’s core mission of authenticating, preserving, and distributing Federal information remains critically important to American democracy” in the digital age. There are 15 recommendations in the report, five of which relate directly to life cycle management, FDsys, and the national plan for the future of the FDLP that will result from the FDLP Forecast Study (see pp. 17-45). 

    Other News 

    I’m very pleased to announce that a terrific new training video on Advanced Searching of FDsys is now available on gpo.gov. In addition the third video, on using FDsys’ help tools, will launch next week. Please help us promote these important resources to your users. Also note that there are options for closed captioning, enlarging the video, and volume control from the menu in the bottom right-hand corner of the video screen.

    FDLP Connection Archive

    We have sunsetted the FDLP Connection with the July / August 2018 issue and will not be publishing the Connection anymore. We’ve enjoyed bringing the FDLP Connection to the community over the years! You can still view past issues. View full archive (2011-2018).