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Federal, State and Local Governments: The On Demand Print and Document Services Opportunity

Industry Overview
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) is the focal point for printing, binding, storing, and disseminating information for the entire Federal community. The GPO serves the document repository, distribution, and printing needs of approximately 130 Federal departments and agencies. The GPO employs more than 3,000 people nationwide. With more than half of them located in the Washington, D.C. area, the GPO is the largest industrial employer in the District of Columbia and also the largest publisher in the world.

As an industry market for printing services, the Federal government is composed of multiple markets with common, consistent, and well documented and regulated requirements at all levels. Despite its volume, the GPO’s 163,200 print jobs constitute only about 25% of the printing performed by the Federal government. The remaining 75% are performed by approximately 16,000 private contractors who have found outsourced printing and document services opportunities within the Federal government.

Identifying the Decision-Maker

As the requirement to funnel all printing through the GPO eases, individual departments and agencies will be able to solicit bids for their own department- or agency-level document production. As this is an evolving endeavor, particular attention should be directed to understanding the structure and composition of the individual federal, state, and local government organizations.

Key Decision-Makers



Job Title


Communication Needs






Executive Director, Director or Deputy Director, Chief Administration Officer


Presentations and covers, overheads, PowerPoint printouts, schedules, regulations, agendas, brochures, meetings



Budget, Finance and Accounting



Budget Director, Director of Business Services, Accounting Director or Manager



Budget reports, invoices, internal reports, presentation slides and charts



Human Resources



Director of Human Resources, Human Resources Manager


Employee manuals, policy guides, benefits updates, newsletters, color informational posters, recruiting and interviews



Training Department



Director of Training, Training Manager

                                                 Course schedules, catalogs, posters & flyers, classroom materials, overheads & slides, manuals, workbooks, evaluation forms, CD-ROM duplication






Director of Purchasing, Purchasing Director or Manager


Budget reports, voter handbooks, regulations summaries, bidding guides, invoices



Information Systems


                                                   Director of Information Systems, or Mgmt. Information Systems (MIS)


Budget reports, system reports, manuals


Public Affairs



Director of Public Affairs, Public Affairs Manager

                                             Media kits, press releases, informational brochures, position papers

Government agency core departments generally resemble those in the private enterprise, although personnel fall into the separate categories of political appointees (top executives and administrators) and career managers and employees for the Federal sector.

Sales and Marketing Strategies

Budgets and policies can be altered whenever there are changes in political or administrative leadership. Moreover, the nature of government bureaucracy makes working with government agencies quite different than dealing with businesses. Government agencies tend to operate under strict regulations and are often slow to change.

Additionally, government customer paperwork can be complex and government vendor acceptance processes may be slower than those found in businesses. Nevertheless, tenacity in securing a foothold with government customers will ultimately be rewarding since they tend to maintain long-term relationships with quality vendors.

Selling to Government Entities

Single job purchases account for approximately 57% of all procurements.  Job specifications that are available for bid are provided in “jackets” that contain the job requirements, such as print volume, paper and binding requirements, schedule, and distribution location(s).  Bidders must provide a single bid price for the complete job. 

For the Federal government, the GPO uses an informal bidding process on single purchases up to $100,000 on more than 50,000 jobs per year.  Bids can be received by telephone, fax, or e-mail.  Single purchases with a large estimated value are normally handled as formal requests with standardized paperwork required for bid submission. 

The remaining 43% of GPO’s outsourced work is conducted under term contract purchases known as “programs.” Typically, programs are for a one-year term with bids handled as formal requests. There are two types of term contracts:

  • S-Programs: These are contracts awarded to a single printer and are normally composed of similar jobs, such as a newsletter or magazine, or a range of jobs from a single requisitioning body.     
  • M-Programs: These are larger volume or more diverse jobs that would be difficult for one vendor to handle. The job is awarded to different vendors based on the lowest bid received for each component.

There are well-established procedures for applying and qualifying as a contract printer for the Federal government.  Currently, the GPO bid list contains more than 16,000 contract printers. To be successful, print service providers need to become familiar with Federal print procurement procedures.  Extensive information about GPO’s Printing Procurement Program is available at

The preceding is an excerpt from CAP Ventures’ Federal, State, and Local Governments: The On Demand print and Document Services Opportunity.  The complete white paper report is available immediately. To learn more about the report or to make a purchase, please contact Alison Hipp at , ext. 126.



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