The Government Printing Office Can More Effectively Manage Its General Sales Program

AFMD-84-20: Published: Nov 16, 1983. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 1983.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the policies, procedures, and management of the Government Printing Office's (GPO) General Sales Program. The study examined selection, prices, and management of the documents inventory, cost accounting methods, and general operations of the program.

Overall, GAO found that: (1) the program was self-sustaining in 1982 after losses in the prior 3 years; and (2) there were significant improvements in selecting documents for sale, managing inventory, and promoting the program to the public. However, GAO concluded that: (1) more management attention is needed for the bookstore operation; (2) although GPO has improved the selection of documents for sale, better data and procedures are still needed; (3) improved cost data should be used to establish document sales prices; and (4) inventories can be better managed by increased use of the automated inventory system.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GPO believes that a centralized marketing effort will provide maximum exposure, but steps have been taken to include the bookstore managers. Bookstores distribute copies of books to local customers and have allocated money for promotional items to heighten public awareness of their stock. However, the suggested cost-benefit analysis has not been undertaken.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop an improvement program. The program should include the involvement of bookstore managers in the current marketing efforts being conducted, and consideration should be given to having a cost-benefit analysis performed to determine the appropriate share of marketing funds to be directed toward the bookstore operation for local sales promotion activities.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop an improvement program. The program should involve efforts to reevaluate bookstore locations to determine if the stores are in the best locations, considering costs and benefits.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop an improvement program. The program should involve efforts to make operating procedures clear and complete. Also, changes should be labeled as such and issued separately so that store managers can easily insert them in their operating manuals.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GPO feels that this recommendation is not cost effective.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop an improvement program. The program should involve efforts to simplify bookstore recordkeeping requirements and avoid duplication. The inventory records should be automated unless the current GPO review documents that it is not cost effective.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop an improvement program. The program should include efforts to develop a training program to provide bookstore managers with the skills necessary to effectively manage their stores, including current marketing techniques. Also, the annual meetings should be continued.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop an improvement program. The program should include efforts to conduct regular field visits to ensure that bookstore personnel are performing well and are provided adequate support and supervision.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop an improvement program. The program should involve efforts to evaluate bookstore management compensation, ensuring that bookstore managers are appropriately compensated for their current duties and responsibilities. Consideration should be given to an incentive awards program.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop an improvement program. The program should involve efforts to evaluate the practice followed since February 1982 of making temporary appointments and promotions of bookstore personnel.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GPO feels that research should not be performed by the authorizing agency since GPO would not have sufficient time to do so, even given the 30-day notice of intent. It has improved its ability to gather information from data on prior sales through comparison of sales data against commercial data. The authorizing agencies will be asked to provide pre-publishing interest data.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop information about the current demand for government publications for use in the selection process through: (1) customer surveys of interest in planned publications; (2) reports from the present system on prior sales; and (3) requests to federal agencies to supply data on potential markets which the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires the agencies to develop.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to improve instructions for completing Forms 3868 and increase coordination with originating agencies to encourage them to submit completed Forms 3868. Consideration should be given to requesting the Joint Committee on Printing to issue a formal regulation regarding the submission of the forms in a more complete and timely manner by the agencies.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to increase coordination with publishing agencies to identify planned or in-process publications and consider revising the required 1-week notice on the Form 3868 to a more realistic time period.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop and implement detailed written procedures for Inventory Management Specialists to use in estimating the sales potential of a publication and provide training in the procedures.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to request additional periodic internal audits to ensure that procedures are followed effectively.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The GPO Comptroller and the Superintendent of Documents should develop improved cost data from the present accounting and operating systems so that the printing and binding factor is based on actual costs paid by the Superintendent of Documents. This can be accomplished by use of estimates which are periodically compared to actual costs.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  15. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The GPO Comptroller and the Superintendent of Documents should develop improved cost data from the present accounting and operating systems so that the reprint costs, to the extent incurred, are identified and recovered in the pricing of documents.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The GPO Comptroller and the Superintendent of Documents should develop improved cost data from the present accounting and operating systems so that handling charge estimates are periodically adjusted to reflect actual costs for each type of document in the pricing formula.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  17. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The GPO Comptroller and the Superintendent of Documents should develop improved cost data from the present accounting and operating systems so that the unsalable publication costs, to the extent incurred, are identified and recovered in the pricing of documents.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  18. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The GPO Comptroller and the Superintendent of Documents should develop improved cost data from the present accounting and operating systems so that the postage factor is based on costs incurred for mailing a document, given its actual size and weight. Consideration should also be given to applying a separate postage charge only to those documents which are mailed.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  19. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The GPO Comptroller and the Superintendent of Documents should develop improved cost data from the present accounting and operating systems so that all future price changes are adequately supported with documented estimates of costs to be incurred.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  20. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The GPO Comptroller and the Superintendent of Documents should develop improved cost data from the present accounting and operating systems so that cost allocation percentages are updated at least annually.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  21. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Detailed guidelines were not developed, nor does GPO intend to develop them. It presently uses OMB guidelines, and managers in each cost center estimate costs according to workloads and other operating statistics.

    Recommendation: The GPO Comptroller and the Superintendent of Documents should develop improved cost data from the present accounting and operating systems so that detailed guidelines are developed for estimating costs for each organizational unit within the Superintendent of Documents operation. These guidelines would be based on detailed analyses of work accomplished by using the various operating statistics already available.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  22. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GPO does not feel that the 50-percent factor needs clarification.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should consider requesting the Joint Committee on Printing to introduce legislation clarifying the 50-percent factor.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  23. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GPO has accelerated its efforts and expects it to be automated by October 1985. GPO did not meet the October 1984 deadline.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to accelerate the current efforts to implement the automated inventory system for retail stock by October 1984, automate the bookstore inventory records unless the GPO current review provides documented support that it would not be cost effective, and consider including the data reported periodically by consigned agents and the Pueblo distribution center in the automated system.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  24. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Automation of the inventory should alleviate the problems.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to improve reports from the system to reflect beginning and ending balances, transfers, purchases, sales, and destruction of each publication on a cumulative basis by quarter and by year. This would reduce the manual effort needed to maintain inventory records.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

  25. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Public Printer, GPO, should direct the Superintendent of Documents to develop a new excess inventory policy by major type of publications based on relevant factors such as the nature of the documents and the economics of maintaining inventory. The Comptroller should be involved in this process and the factors should be revised periodically.

    Agency Affected: Government Publishing Office

 

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