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Washington Times Scrutinizes GPO

This article was published in The Washington Times yesterday: “Outsourced passport work scrutinized“. Several concerns were cited, including security and profits:

“Documents and interviews with Bush administration officials said the GPO made about $100 million in profits on the production of electronic passports since 2006 and their sale to the State Department far beyond the costs.

The profits are raising questions among congressional investigators about whether the GPO is complying with laws that limit its business activities to recovering printing costs on a break-even basis”.

GPO replied with their side of the story via a lengthy press release.

“The current agreed upon price between GPO and our customer (the State Department) for the production of the e-passport is $14.80 per book. That includes: materials, labor, overhead, required inventory, the secure production facility and future investments. GPO does not have any role in setting the price to the public for a passport, the State Department determines that price.

…GPO is unlike most other Federal agencies in that all GPO activities are financed through a business-like revolving fund. The revolving fund functions as GPO’s checking account with the U.S. Treasury. The fund is used to pay all of GPO’s costs and the fund is reimbursed by our agency customers when they pay GPO invoices”.

Today, the Washington Times published the second part of this three-part story: “GPO profits go to bonuses and trips“.

“When the government’s main printing agency booked $100 million in unexpected profit it went on a spending spree: large bonuses to top managers, trips to Paris and Las Vegas, and an official photo of the boss that cost $10,000.

The bonuses, some nearly as high as $13,000, and travel are raising questions among congressional investigators and Government Printing Office officials about whether the agency is misusing its newfound wealth and whether it received the proper authority for some of the larger compensation payments from the Office of Budget and Management”.

I’ll be honest…my head is spinning. I’m trying to find out more information about this and understand some of these issues. What do you think about all this? I’ll be sure to post a link to the third part of this story and any responses from GPO that are released. Stay tuned…

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