Periodically, the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) updates its regulations and manuals. This has occurred with GPO's Government Paper Specifications Standard Manual and with its GPO Printing Procurement Regulation - PPR (Pub. 305.3). These replace their 1999 updates.
The Government Paper Specifications Standard Manual is an essential reference for all printers doing work for GPO. It provides precise information on what paper should be used for each order. PPR (Pub. 305.3) revises GPO's general business practices for working with private sector print suppliers that produce a portion of the printing for the federal government.
Staying current on GPO paper requirements is essential because, as a commodity, paper specifications and pricing change. Knowing how, when and where to buy paper will determine whether a GPO job is profitable for a printer or not. This is especially true in government markets where paper costs account for a large portion of the price of a job, profit margins can be thin and requirements often are complex.
“For instance, there are times when you can substitute paper on a GPO job, but you must be absolutely sure that a substitution is allowable,” said to Deborah Snider, senior vice president of e0-LYNXX Corporation. “If it is not, you could be accused of fraud. Knowing the difference comes with understanding GPO requirements and that comes with experience. As an example, you can change your house stock to match an A-60 offset or D-10 bond to save money when there is little discernable difference between the two and when both meet the specified requirement. It is not necessary to use No. 1 or No. 2 grades of domestic coated sheets as long as the JCP requirements for whiteness, brightness, opacity, coating and thickness are met with the substituted stock.”
JCP code numbers, contained in the Government Paper Specifications Standards Manual, spell out requirements for stock acidity, weight, bursting strength, opacity, thickness, color, finishing and formation, cleanliness and any special requirements. GPO print suppliers should be sure to provide their paper suppliers with GPO paper specifications, as written by GPO, but Snider said do not provide them with JCP codes. These codes are not necessary for paper suppliers and can cause confusion if given to them.
“GPO printers should discuss with their paper suppliers the amount of work and the paper volumes that they expect from GPO. Paper suppliers also should understand that you, as the printer, serve primary and secondary markets, with GPO being a secondary market,” Snider explained. “Having a good relationship with your paper supplier can result in their alerting you to paper deals such as when a mill overruns a particular stock. Of course, paper suppliers are more apt to notify you of bargains when they are paid promptly.”
There also are paper brokers that sell paper stock seconds. While seconds can be bought for reduced prices, GPO printers need to know exactly what they are buying, because seconds can be rejected by both private and government buyers when not meeting specifications.
One more important paper buying tip is to keep accurate records, because while GPO does not normally test paper, it may spot check your invoices. GPO requires that each of its print suppliers be able to prove that it supplied the required stock. A recommended practice is to maintain a copy of the letter or the purchase order from the paper supplier (merchant or mill) on file for at least two years.
Buying paper is just one area that private sector print suppliers must understand to be successful in developing the government sector as a secondary market. Understanding the complexities of bidding on GPO jobs and then actually delivering the work, requires what amounts to a lot of on-the-job training -- a distinct disadvantage for printers new to GPO. That is why most turn to government print management experts with years of experience of working successfully with GPO.
Snider said that with a steady flow of GPO work, a print supplier can improve profitability of 2.5% on 70% production utilization to 14% or more on closer to 100% production utilization. To do so, the printer has to be willing to comply with GPO's strict requirements and offer discount pricing by filling open production times with GPO jobs.
About e-LYNXX Corporation
e-LYNXX Corporation patented the technology integral to e-commerce. Endorsed by Educational & Institutional Cooperative Purchasing (E&I) and Printing Industries of America (PIA), e-LYNXX drives results through its three divisions. AVS Technology licenses the patentedautomated vendor selection procedure used in e-commerce and procurement systems. American Print Management provides web-based system, services and patented AVS Technology to reduce substantially the procured costs of direct mail, marketing, publications, packaging, labels and other procured print. Government Print Management offers effective U.S. GPO bid services and strategies.