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The basis for establishing the price at which publications are offered for sale to the public should be revised to reflect the change in costs to be recovered from sales revenues. The revised basis should provide that the price be established based on:
- Cost of publications.
- Expenses incurred in connection with general sales of publications.
- Other costs not funded by the revolving fund, such as depreciation
and interest, if determined applicable for sales to the public, or a fixed percentage as determined appropriate.
The provision pertaining to basing the price on the "cost as determined by the Public Printer plus 50 percent" and the discount allowable for certain sales would be superseded by the revised basis for pricing documents.
This recommendation implies that Public Law 95-94 changed the basis for determining the costs to be recovered through the sales prices of publications and also revised the provisions of 44 U.S.C. 1708 regarding the method of establishing prices. This is not so. The costs to be recovered include and have previously included all program costs. The method of financing does not have any bearing on what is or is not a cost. Nor does the Public Law revise the method of pricing. Consequently, the recommendation is misdirected.
Page xiv and 227
The accrual basis of accounting should be adopted for all appropriations as prescribed by 31 U.S.C. 66 a(c) for executive agencies.
The lead-in to this recommendation implies that the appropriation accounting for the Congressional Printing and Binding and the Printing and Binding appropriations does not provide sufficient administrative control and has limited usefulness in budget estimating. This is not so. Appropriation accounting is custodial accounting as required by the Congress and approved by the GAO. The appropriations are single annual appropriations and must be accounted for on a yearly basis. The accounting treatment for them does facilitate reporting for administrative control and does provide information necessary to prepare budget estimates. GPO also has financial accounting on the accrual basis. It is appropriate for GPO to maintain both types of accounting methodology to provide, (1) proper control of appropriated funds and (2) financial results of program activities. These methods have provided an effective system for over 20 years in serving the needs of the Congress, OMB, Treasury, and GPO.
35-533 0 - 79 - 5 (Pt. 2)
PART THREE: TECHNOLOGY USE ASSESSMENT
VI. SUMMARY OF OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
IN GPO USE OF TECHNOLOGY
Pages xv and 286
In addition to further hardware acquisition, the Data Systems Service should expand the staff of the Systems Analysis and Programing Division; training programs should be expanded to reflect increases in staff.
Although the estimated workload exceeds available resources, no increase in Systems Analysis and Programing Division staff is planned. Increased productivity of divisional personnel is expected through the use of various techniques and tools being implemented. Other techniques are being investigated including the off-loading of some work to the General Services Administration. If increased productivity is not sufficient to handle the anticipated increased workload, additional personnel will be considered.
We agree that an expansion of the training program may, be necessary, not only for an expanded staff, but to train existing personnel in the new techniques that are adopted.
Pages xvi and 286
The use of distributed processing must be coordinated with an overall GPO data automation plan developed under the auspices of the ADS Steering Committee.
Much of the recommended coordination of systems design is already being performed on a day-to-day basis at the operating level. Consolidating this into one document and evaluating it to receive greater visibility by top management may be desirable but carries a rather low priority.
Pages xvi and 287
A two-step approach is recommended to develop the planning and scheduling applications. First, these modules may be independently developed under the coordination of the ADS Steering Committee and the data base administrator. Second, once operational, these modules should be linked to an operational OMIS.
The independent development of these two modules might provide for quicker development and will be given very serious study.
Pages xvii and 287
EPD and top GPO management should develop stronger coordination links between this division and :
- Customer Service Department
The contractor implies that coordination between EPD and other organizations does not exist. This is not so. Day-to-day coordination with the Customer Service and Planning Service Division is maintained by EPD.
Several specialists from Customer Service, Planning Service, and the Typography and Design Division have received orientation training in all facets of EPD operations. The purpose of this training was to enable Customer Service Department personnel to understand the requirements for scheduling and coordinating work performed in EPD. However, GPO recognizes the need for a continual training program to keep our employees informed of new applications and systems enhancements.
While the automated composition system utilizes a computer, it is not a typical data processing application program. The contributions of the Automated Data Services Steering Committee to the EPD needs would be minimal because the system and equipment are specialty items for producing printing material and not used for what is normally data processing functions any more than a press with a special purpose computer control would be.
Moreover, the application of data processing resources to this endeavor has long been recognized as a top priority by the Automated Data Services Steering Committee.
Pages xvi1 and 288
GPO should expand its use of microfilm in the library and statutory distribution program and should offer a microfilm sales program through the Superintendent of Documents.
We already have and are expanding the use of microforms in the library and statutory distribution program but we have no authority from the Joint Committee on Printing to expand into the sales of microproducts through the Superintendent of Documents.
Question. The recommendation at page iv states: "Each bookstore should be put on a self-sustaining basis by instituting inventory mechanisms in which books are 'sold' to each store, e.g. at a certain percent of retail value. Thus, each bookstore would be provided with an operating margin from which all costs are paid.” Please discuss.
Response. This recommendation is unclear, but seems to indicate some sort of individual revolving fund for each bookstore. In our opinion, this would result in accounting for the sake of accounting.
We already have the capability to match cost and revenue and determine the profitability of each bookstore. It has been our policy in the past, and will continue to be our policy, to close down unprofitable bookstores whenever expected revenues fail to materialize or costs, such as GSA rental, escalate to a point which precludes profitable operation.
Question. The recommendation at page v states: “SU/DOC should develop a system whereby operating costs associated with inventory are collected, updated, and available for management review. Additionally, it is recommended that inventory levels and back orders be examined in order to determine if either could be reduced to lower the inventory investment without impairing service delivery standards." Please discuss.
Response. The contractor implies that information associated with inventory control is not collected and available for management review. This is not so. GPO now has a system whereby operating costs associated with inventory can be collected and made available for management review. Inventory levels and back orders are under constant surveillance.
Question. The recommendation at page xi states: “Billing policy and procedures should be revised to base all bills on standard cost rates and factors. This would necessitate an alternative billing method be provided for Congressional and other jobs for which work requires overtime and for which production requirements cannot be ascertained at the point initial work is accepted. Additionally progress billings should be made for jobs exceeding a three-month period and there should be greater use of the Simplified Intra-Governmental Billing and Collection System.” Please discuss..
Response. Firm estimates are provided for many jobs produced in-house. This is especially true where it involves repetitive type work. For example, we have product scales, which are firm prices, for passports, postal cards, letterheads, and patents. Also, firm estimates can be given on other jobs whenever the circumstances warrant the extra work involved. For example, jobs that are subject to wide variation in cost would have to be calculated by a printing specialist. This would result in a very labor intensive process prior to the start of a job. Thus, the added workload would only be justified in cases where there is a danger of exceeding appropriation authority or some other extenuating circumstance because the current procedure for this type of work is a more practical and simplified system. Currently, charges are compiled by the computer system as the job progresses through production, charges are collected by job and a preliminary bill is computer generated for subsequent review or adjustment. The adoption of the recommendation would bypass the present computer system on complicated jobs and lead to a more labor intensive process.
Question. The recommendation at page xiv states: “Adopt a policy of 'break even' as the revolving fund profit objective. Operating policy would conform with the policy expressed in the annual business-type budget enacted by Congress through the adjustment of rates, prices and surcharges to approximately match revenues with costs of operations on an annual basis.” Please discuss.
Response. This recommendation not clear. On the one hand, it seems to imply that we do not have a "break-even” policy as the revolving fund objective while, at the same time, it appears to acknowledge that our annual business-type budgets have consistently been prepared on a break-even basis.
Perhaps the recommendation is directed toward the fact that we have not been 100 percent effective in achieving that objective on a year-to-year basis. If so, it is an unrealistic recommendation. There are too many variables which must be estimated in advance to permit such precision.
Nevertheless, over the existence of the revolving fund, we have managed to keep very close to meeting our “break-even” objective. In fact, the $58.5 million mentioned by the contractor in the lead-in to this recommendation represents a 25-year accumulation which is only 1.2 percent over the “break-even" objective. We intend to continue with a "break-even” objective, but it is doubtful that we will be able to improve on the 1.2 percent in view of the multitude of variables which must be estimated in advance.
On the other hand, the contractor may be recommending that the GPO plan for losses each year until such time as the retained earnings have been reduced to zero. If so, it would also be an unrealistic recommendation. The operations of the GPO have grown steadily over the years and, as a result, increased funds have been required to keep our operations and financing in balance. In fact, our need for additional working capital has required us to request (and receive) appropriations in excess of our retained earnings. It would seem to be somewhat foolish to simultaneously plan for operating losses and request working capital appropriations.
Congress has been informed of the use of Retained Earnings to finance our continuing operations. We have always put the Congress on notice of our capital needs and acquisitions. These are set forth in the business-type budget submitted annually and the Joint Committee on Printing approves each capital acquisition on an item-by-item basis.
Question. The recommendation at page xvii states: "GPO should expand its use of microfilm in the library and statutory distribution program and that GPO offer a microfilm sales program through the Superintendent of Documents." Please discuss.
Response. We already have and are expanding the use of microforms in the library and statutory distribution program but we have no authority from the Joint Committee on Printing to expand into the sales of microproducts through the Superintendent of Documents.
CONGRESSIONAL PRINTING AND BINDING
Mr. BENJAMIN. I am going to turn to the specific accounts. The first is the Congressional Printing and Binding. The request is $76,212,000. We will insert the budget schedule and justifications material-pages II-1 through II-5—in the record at this point.
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