"The GPO is remaking itself as an agency committed to using new technologies to meet the information demands of the 21st century," GPO head Bruce James, public printer of the United States, said in a statement. "In the past, our bookstores provided a great service, but the business of government information production and delivery is changing, and we are not only changing with it, we will help lead that change."
The closings mark the latest in a series of developments marking the print office's transformation into a primarily electronic information-dissemination agency. GPO also is transforming its federal depository library program, serving 1,200 libraries nationwide, to a predominately electronic basis. The GPO online bookstore can be found at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.
The GPO will close its stores in Kansas City, Mo., Portland, Ore., Seattle, and New York by month's end. Those in Los Angeles, Denver, Pueblo, Colo., Detroit, and Milwaukee will close by Aug. 1, and stores in Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., Pittsburgh, and Houston will be shuttered by Aug. 29. Since 2001, the agency has closed bookstores in San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Birmingham, Ala., Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio, and Washington. The agency's headquarters store in Washington will remain open.
The Government Print Office, with 3,000 employees, is responsible for the production and distribution of information products and services for all three branches of the federal government. In addition to its own production facilities, the agency works with private vendors to produce print and other information products for the government, such as Supreme Court decisions, IRS tax forms, and crop reports for the Department of Agriculture. The print office also distributes government publications to the public via a sales program and through a nationwide network of federal depository libraries. The portal, GPO Access, provides free online public access to nearly a quarter of a million government titles and is one of the government's largest and most heavily used Web sites.