United States Government Publishing Office

The United States Government Publishing Office (USGPO or GPO; formerly the United States Government Printing Office) is an agency of the legislative branch of the United States Federal government. The office produces and distributes information products and services for all three branches of the Federal Government, including U.S. passports for the Department of State as well as the official publications of the Supreme Court, the Congress, the Executive Office of the President, executive departments, and independent agencies.

Government Publishing Office
Official seal
Agency overview
FormedMarch 4, 1861
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
Headquarters732 North Capitol St. NW
Washington, D.C.[1]
Motto"Keeping America Informed"[2]
Annual budgetUS$126,200,000 (2012); approx. US$135 million (2011)[1]
Agency executive
  • Hugh Halpern, Director
Parent agencyUnited States Congress Joint Committee on Printing

An act of Congress changed the office's name to its current form in 2014.[3]


U.S. Government Publishing Office

The Government Printing Office was created by congressional joint resolution (12 Stat. 117) on June 23, 1860. It began operations March 4, 1861, with 350 employees and reached a peak employment of 8,500 in 1972.[1] The agency began transformation to computer technology in the 1980s; along with the gradual replacement of paper with electronic document distribution, this has led to a steady decline in the number of staff at the agency.[1] For its entire history, the GPO has occupied the corner of North Capitol Street NW and H Street NW in the District of Columbia. The large red brick building that houses the GPO was erected in 1903 and is unusual in being one of the few large, red brick government structures in a city where most government buildings are mostly marble and granite. (The Smithsonian Castle and the Pension Building, now the National Building Museum, are other exceptions.) An additional structure was attached to its north in later years. The activities of the GPO are defined in the public printing and documents chapters of Title 44 of the United States Code. The Director (formerly the Public Printer), who serves as the head of the GPO, is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Director selects a Superintendent of Documents.

The Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) is in charge of the dissemination of information at the GPO. This is accomplished through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), the Cataloging and Indexing Program and the Publication Sales Program, as well as operation of the Federal Citizen Information Center in Pueblo, Colorado. Adelaide Hasse was the founder of the Superintendent of Documents classification system.[4]

The GPO first used 100 percent recycled paper for the Congressional Record and Federal Register from 1991 to 1997, under Public Printers Robert Houk and Michael DiMario. The GPO resumed using recycled paper in 2009.

In March 2011, the GPO issued a new illustrated official history covering the agency's 150 years of "Keeping America Informed".[5]

With demand for print publications falling and a move underway to digital document production and preservation, the name of the GPO was officially changed to "Government Publishing Office" in a provision of an omnibus government funding bill passed by Congress in December 2014.[6] Following signature of this legislation by President Barack Obama, the name change took place on December 17, 2014.[3]

Public Printers of the United States

By law, the Public Printer heads the GPO. The position of Public Printer traces its roots back to Benjamin Franklin and the period before the American Revolution, when he served as "publick printer", whose job was to produce official government documents for Pennsylvania and other colonies. When the agency was renamed in December 2014 the title "Public Printer" was also changed to "Director". Davita Vance-Cooks was therefore the first "Director" of the GPO.

Public Printers:

  1. Almon M. Clapp (1876–1877)
  2. John D. Defrees (1877–1882)
  3. Sterling P. Rounds (1882–1886)
  4. Thomas E. Benedict (1886–1889)
  5. Frank W. Palmer (1889–1894)
  6. Thomas E. Benedict (1894–1897)
  7. Frank W. Palmer (1897–1905), O.J. Ricketts (Acting, 1905–1905)
  8. Charles A. Stillings (1905–1908), William S. Rossiter (Acting, 1908–1908), Capt. Henry T. Brian (Acting, 1908–1908)
  9. John S. Leech (1908–1908)
  10. Samuel B. Donnelly (1908–1913)
  11. Cornelius Ford (1913–1921)
  12. George H. Carter (1921–1934)
  13. Augustus E. Giegengack (1934–1948), John J. Deviny (Acting, 1948–1948)
  14. John J. Deviny (1948–1953), Phillip L. Cole (Acting, 1953–1953)
  15. Raymond Blattenberger (1953–1961), John M. Wilson (Acting, 1961–1961), Felix E. Cristofane (Acting, 1961–1961)
  16. James L. Harrison (1961–1970)
  17. Adolphus N. Spence (1970–1972), Harry J. Humphrey (Acting, 1972–1973), L.T. Golden (Acting Deputy, 1973–1973)
  18. Thomas F. McCormick (1973–1977)
  19. John J. Boyle (1977–1980), Samuel Saylor (Acting, 1980–1981)
  20. Danford L. Sawyer, Jr. (1981–1984), William J. Barrett (Acting, 1984–1984)
  21. Ralph E. Kennickell, Jr. (1984–1988), Joseph E. Jenifer (Acting, 1988–1990)
  22. Robert Houk (1990–1993),[7] Michael F. DiMario (Acting, 1993–1993)
  23. Michael F. DiMario (1993[8]–2002)
  24. Bruce James (2002–2007),[9] William H. Turri (Acting, 2007–2007)
  25. Robert C. Tapella (2007–2010)[10]
  26. William J. Boarman (2010–2012)[11][12]
  27. Davita Vance-Cooks (2013–2017)[13]
  28. Hugh Halpern (2019–present)

Published government documents

Official journals of government

The GPO contracts out much of the Federal government's printing but prints the official journals of government in-house,


The new e-passport produced by GPO

GPO has been producing U.S. passports since the 1920s. The United States Department of State began issuing e-passports in 2006. The e-Passport includes an electronic chip embedded in the cover that contains the same information that is printed in the passport: name, date and place of birth, sex, dates of passport issuance and expiration, passport number, and photo of the bearer. GPO produces the blank e-Passport, while the Department of State receives and adjudicates applications and issues individual passports.[14][15][16][17] GPO ceased production of legacy passports in May 2007, shifting production entirely to e-passports.

In March 2008, the Washington Times published a three-part story about the outsourcing of electronic passports to overseas companies, including one in Thailand that was subject to Chinese espionage.[15][18][19]

Trusted Traveler Program card

GPO designs, prints, encodes, and personalizes Trusted Traveler Program cards (NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST) for the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

GPO publications

External video
Official Presidential Photograph
printed by GPO
American Artifacts: Government Printing Office (29:47), C-SPAN[20]
  • Cumulative Copyright Catalogs
  • Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1870–88)
  • Official Records of the American Civil War
  • U.S. Congressional Serial Set
  • United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division (1901). Publication, Issue 33. WASHINGTON: G.P.O. Retrieved February 19, 2011.(Document (United States. War Dept.)) (Original from Harvard University)
  • United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division, p (1901). Publications, Issues 33-34. p. 528. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  • United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division, Stephen L'H. Slocum, Carl Reichmann, Adna Romanga Chaffee (1901). Reports on military operations in South Africa and China. July, 1901. WASHINGTON: Govt. print. off. pp. 600. Retrieved February 19, 2011.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) (Issue 33 of Publication (United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division) Issue 143 of Document, United States War Dept Issue 33 of Publication, United States Adjutant-General's Office)
  • Stephan L'H. Slocum, Carl Reichmann, Adna Romanza Chaffee, United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division (1901). Reports on military operations in South Africa and China. WASHINGTON: G.P.O. pp. 600. Retrieved February 19, 2011.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) (Issue 143 of Document (United States. War Dept.)) (Original from the New York Public Library)
  • United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce, United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor. Bureau of Statistics, United States. Bureau of Manufactures (1904). Commercial relations of the United States with foreign countries during the years ..., Volume 2. WASHINGTON: G.P.O. Retrieved June 28, 2010.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)(Original from Harvard University)
  • United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce (1891). Reports from the consuls of the United States, Issues 124–127. WASHINGTON: G.P.O. Retrieved July 17, 2011. (Original from the University of California)
  • United States. War Dept (1899). Annual Reports of the War Department, Volume 1, Part 2; Volume 1, Part 4. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  • United States. Office of Education (1901). Report of the Federal Security Agency: Office of Education, Volume 2. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  • Philippines. Gobernador-General; Philippines. Governor (1919). Report of the Governor General of the Philippine Islands to the Secretary of War. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  • Chen, Da (1923). Chinese Migrations, with Special Reference to Labor Conditions. Vol. 340 of Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Volume 85, Issue 19 of House Documents. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved April 24, 2014.

GPO publishes the U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual.[21] Among the venerable series are Foreign Relations of the United States for the Department of State (since 1861), and Public Papers of the Presidents, covering the administrations of Presidents Herbert Hoover onward (except Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose papers were privately printed). GPO published the Statistical Abstract of the United States for the Census Bureau from 1878 to 2012.

Internet access to GPO publications

Govinfo logo, 2016

In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the GPO Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act, which enabled GPO to put Government information online for the first time.[22] One year later, GPO began putting Government information online for the public to access. In 2009, GPO replaced its GPO Access website with the Federal Digital System, or FDsys. In 2016, GPO launched GovInfo, a mobile-friendly website for the public to access Government information.[23] GovInfo makes available at no charge the Congressional Record, the Federal Register, Public Papers of the Presidents, the U.S. Code, and other materials.

GPO Police

Security and law enforcement for GPO facilities is provided by the Government Publishing Office Police.[24] The force is part of the GPO's Security Services Division, and in 2003 it had 53 officers.[25] Officers are appointed under Title 44 USC § 317 by the Public Printer (or their delegate).[26]


Their duty is to "protect persons and property in premises and adjacent areas occupied by or under the control of the Government Printing Office".

Jurisdiction and Authority

Officers are authorized to bear and use arms in the performance of their duties, make arrests for violations of Federal and state law (and that of Washington, D.C.), and enforce the regulations of the Public Printer, including requiring the removal from GPO premises of individuals who violate such regulations.

Officers have concurrent jurisdiction with the law enforcement agencies where the premises are located.[26][27] GPO Police Officers are required to maintain active certification with the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department as their agency holds a cooperative agreement with the city, granting GPO Police authority to enforce city laws and regulations to include Traffic Code.[28]

See also


  1. Rein, Lisa (January 25, 2012), "U.S. printing office shrinks with round of buyouts", The Washington Post, washingtonpost.com, retrieved January 26, 2012
  2. "Mission, Vision, and Goals". www.gpo.gov.
  3. Somerset, Gary (December 17, 2014). "GPO is now the Government Publishing Office" (PDF). Government Publishing Office. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  4. "Home". www.access.gpo.gov. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  5. Keeping America Informed, the U.S. Government Publishing Office: A Legacy of Service to the Nation 1861–2016 (PDF) (Revised ed.). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Publishing Office. 2016. ISBN 9780160933196.
  6. Andrew Siddons, "Government Printer Renamed for Digital Age", The New York Times, December 12, 2014.
  7. Cross, Lisa (June 1, 2001). "PIA Backs a Nominee For Public Printer Post.(Printing Industries of America, Robert Houk)(Brief Article)". HighBeam Research. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  8. BUBL.ac.uk Archived June 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. GPO.gov Archived September 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  10. "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate, 4/19/10". whitehouse.gov. April 19, 2010. Archived from the original on February 16, 2017. Retrieved August 11, 2010 via National Archives.
  11. "GPO Mourns The Passing Of Former Public Printer Bill Boarman". Government Publishing Office. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  12. Wagner, Rose (August 27, 2021). "William Boarman, who led Government Printing Office, dies 75". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  13. Hicks, Josh (August 2, 2013). "Davita Vance-Cooks confirmed as first female and African American public printer". The Washington Post. washingtonpost.com. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  14. "Congressional Relations" (PDF). www.gpo.gov.
  15. Gertz, Bill (March 27, 2008). "GPO profits go to bonuses and trips". Washington Times.
  16. Gertz, Bill (March 26, 2008). "Outsourced passport work scrutinized". Washington Times.
  17. Goldfarb, Zachary A. (March 13, 2006). "Confronting Digital Age Head-On". Washington Post.
  18. Bill Gertz, Outsourced passports netting govt. profits, risking national security Archived April 24, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Washington Times, March 26, 2008
  19. "GPO's backup plant on storm-prone Gulf". Washington Times. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved January 18, 2010.
  20. "American Artifacts: Government Printing Office". C-SPAN. November 2, 2012. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  21. "U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual". United States Government Publishing Office. 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  22. "Keeping America Informed" (PDF). www.govinfo.gov. U.S. Government Publishing Office. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  23. "Meet govinfo, GPO's Next Generation of Access to Federal Government Information". blogs.loc.gov. The Library of Congress. February 10, 2016. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  24. "GPO Uniformed Police". United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  25. "Review of Potential Merger of the Library of Congress Police and/or the Government Printing Office Police with the U.S. Capitol Police". Government Accountability Office. July 5, 2002. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  26. 44 U.S.C. § 317
  27. "GPO Uniformed Police Branch" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 24, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  28. "Cooperative Agreements; Covered Federal Law Enforcement Agencies". Metropolitan Police Department. Washington D.C. Retrieved November 11, 2022.

Further reading

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