The Digitizing Of GPO
by Bob Neubauer
When the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia prepared to release Judge Thomas P. Jackson's "Findings of Fact" in the Microsoft case in November of 1999, the court contacted the U.S. Government Printing Office. GPO was asked to make advance preparations for the rapid dissemination of the document. GPO, as always, was ready for the challenge.
Judge Jackson's decision was announced at 4:30, and the court sent a printed copy and a disk version of the 207-page document to GPO, where print production began immediately. Covers had been produced in advance. By 6:30, when GPO's main bookstore reopened, copies were available. By 8:30, 147 had been sold.
Meanwhile, GPO made digital versions of the findings available on its Web site in WordPerfect, PDF and HTML formats. It established a specific URL for this information (usvsm.gpo.gov). In the first hour of release, the site experienced 152,000 successful connections.
For GPO, the largest in-plant in the country, such monumental projects have become second nature.
Now in its 139th year of existence, GPO drastically changed itself over the past few years from a strictly ink-on-paper provider to a high-tech digital data delivery organization. The public downloads some 20 million documents a month from GPO Access, GPO's Web site (www.access.gpo.gov). Because of this major change in the way people want to receive information, GPO has expanded its focus on the online world.
"We're putting more and more electronic products up, which seems to be what the public wants," notes Public Printer Michael DiMario. He recently signed a request for more Internet bandwidth in the form of a T3 line to accommodate the anticipated demand.
The successful online dissemination of the Microsoft findings was welcome news for those who remember the initial posting of the Starr Report last year, when GPO Access was jammed with traffic, which clogged the system.