By Debbie Siegelbaum - 05/11/11 09:34 PM EDT
“It costs taxpayers approximately $1,300,000 from the Congressional Printing and Binding fund to print the daily and permanent editions of Congressional and Federal publications for Member offices each year,” according to the notice.
Though members are entitled to these publications, many copies go unutilized and are available online through the GPO’s Federal Digital System as well as the Library of Congress’s THOMAS information system, the notice added.
Opting out of such publications could save taxpayers nearly $3,000 per member office each year, the committee estimated. As such, “in an effort to eliminate the unnecessary printing of periodic material and cut superfluous spending,” each member office was encouraged to visit an online survey and opt out.
More than 140 member offices have opted out to date, said a committee staffer. The GPO expects the full results of the survey May 18.
The House is looking for other ways to identify efficiencies within the GPO, as well. The agency’s fiscal year 2012 budget request now stands at more than $148 million, a reduction of $5.2 million from the amount requested last year.
In Wednesday’s hearing on the GPO’s budget request, House Appropriations Legislative Branch subcommittee chairman Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) questioned Boarman on where the GPO could find further savings.
According to Boarman, GPO overhead has increased by almost 50 percent over the last four years, and an estimated 33 cents of every dollar in GPO funding goes towards other duties including unfunded requirements.
One significant financial drain for the GPO is maintaining the aging buildings they reside in, some nearly 100 years old.
Calling that expense “enormous,” Boarman said that the GPO has shrunk from 8,000 employees 35 years ago to 2,200 today. This has left them with up to 100,000 square feet of extra space that could be reorganized and allocated to the Architect of the Capitol and other Congressional functions within the next two years.
In addition, Boarman would like to see the GPO police force merged with the Capitol Police, a move similar to that performed by the Library of Congress.
“I’m in the printing and publishing and electronic business; I shouldn’t be in the security business,” Boarman said, testifying that the GPO spends roughly $13 million each year on security.
After Boarman appeared before the subcommittee Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issues and challenges faced by the GPO, Gingrey issued a statement calling for modernization of the agency.
“The GPO must be more aggressive in adapting to the informational needs of the 21st century,” he wrote.
“Judging solely by the overwhelming reaction we’ve had from member offices voluntarily reducing the number of printed documents they have traditionally received from GPO, the House is obviously ready and able to work with the GPO as it modernizes its operations to cut costs and promote efficiency,” Gingrey added.