The Government Printing Office will continue its century-old monopoly on federal agencies’ printing jobs, under an agreement the Bush administration announced Friday. The agreement ends outgoing Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels’ year-long quest to let agencies avoid using the printing office as their middle man.
Daniels agreed to let the printing office keep its monopoly. He even agreed to curtail or eliminate current executive branch printing operations that do some of agencies’ printing work in-house. In return, GPO chief Bruce James agreed to set up a Web-based ordering system that will let government buyers deal directly with private printers, which will negotiate discounted overarching agreements with the printing office. The system is modeled after the General Services Administration’s supply schedules. The printing office will collect a 3 percent rebate from printers to fund the cost of the system.
“It gives agencies more freedom and flexibility in selecting printers,” James said.
To be fair, Daniels didn't exactly surrender. There were legal questions as to whether the Executive Branch could unilaterally end the GPO printing monopoly without congressional authorization. But yesterday's decision is still a let-down if you ran a Kinko's in D.C. and were looking to steal some of the GPO's business from the Interior Department.
Maybe if the Supreme Court rules the Postal Service can be sued under the antitrust laws, we can go after the GPO next. Heck, I'm a consumer of government documents, and I certainly feel injured by this monopoly...