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.