From print to digital, the federal budget release has evolved

Posted at 5:37 PM, Feb 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-04 17:37:29-05

When President Barack Obama released his budget recommendations Monday for the 2016 fiscal year, they were made available immediately online, but only 15,000 copies were printed.

Since the release of the first online budget for 1996, the Government Publishing Office has made the budget more easily available through its website and mobile app. Before 1996, those who wanted to see the president’s budget recommendations lined up outside the GPO bookstore to wait to buy a copy. Now they can go online as soon as the embargo is lifted and see the budget in full for free.

Some still prefer to buy a physical copy of the budget through the office, Gary G. Somerset, GPO media and public relations manager, said.

Those who have been with the GPO for many years have seen an evolution in the way the budget is printed and distributed. One of those is John Crawford, who will reach the 50-year mark at the GPO in May.

Crawford said that in the past, the GPO produced about 100,000 copies to meet the then-high demand for hard copies of the budget.

“They used to fill this bookstore,” Crawford said. “Well, now they’re going online and getting it. They don’t come into the bookstore as much.”

Ric Davis, GPO chief technology officer, has been a leader in the transition from print to digital. Davis said the GPO strives to provide documents in the most easily accessible formats for the average person, whether through the mobile app, an HTML document or a PDF file.

The GPO serves all publishing needs of the government, a job Crawford said he has loved for 50 years.

“We’re producing historical documents every day for the American people, which is including the Congress and the White House and all the branches of government,” Crawford said.

Reach reporter Allison Kite at or 202-408-1491. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.