As ever, laws and institutions lag the rapid pace of technological change. In 2014, for instance, mandating that the person designated to publish federal information must be a practical printer “versed in the art of bookbinding” is a statutory remnant of a bygone age.
Last week, Senator Amy Klobuchar [D-MN] introduced the Government Publishing Office Act of 2014, S.1947, which would rename the United States Government Printing Office the Government Publishing Office. (It would also strike the bookbinding requirement.)
The current Public Printer of the United States supported the proposal. “Publishing defines a broad range of services that includes print, digital, and future technological advancements,” said Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks, in a statement. “The name Government Publishing Office better reflects the services that GPO currently provides and will provide in the future. I appreciate the efforts of Senators Klobuchar and Chambliss for introducing and supporting this bill. GPO will continue to meet the information needs of Congress, Federal agencies, and the public and
carry out our mission of Keeping America Informed.”
— U.S. GPO (@USGPO) January 22, 2014
“The idea of renaming GPO was discussed in a December Committee on House Administration hearing entitled “Mission of the Government Printing Office in a post-print world”, which I wrote about here,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), in a blog post on the GPO bill.
While many questions about the GPO’s digital future remain, there’s some hope that at least the name for institution might receive an update.
For more on the history of the Government Printing Office, watch citizen archivist Carl Malamud’s talk from 2009, embedded below:
We can only wonder how the last five years might have been different if President Obama had nominated him as the head of the U.S. GPO.