Congressional Publishing Arm Plans for New Software to ‘Take Over’ Print Documentation

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Director Hugh Halpern said the agency wants to bring more efficient documentation software to Capitol Hill and other public agencies.

The Government Publishing Office is focusing on customer experience for both the American public and lawmakers to spearhead modernization efforts, according to agency Director Hugh Halpern. 

In a keynote talk at a Data Coalition summit between private and public sector leaders, Halpern discussed the dated software used on Capitol Hill and in the GPO, and explained the continued rollout of the agency’s XPub software to streamline basic functions for digital documents. 

Halpern said that the software “is really robust and is a huge leap forward. And eventually this will sort of become the hub of our operations at GPO. It will take over that print function for our congressional customers. And it will really facilitate the development of a whole slew of new applications for all of our federal customers.”

Developed in conjunction with private firm SDL, Halpern anticipates that XPub will alleviate the bureaucratic backlog brought on by antiquated printing and document software behind government websites, including 

He specified that the GPO’s new software will feature more responsive and flexible HTML for improved government web browsing services. 

Halpern also said that the XPub deployment on Capitol Hill, particularly in the House of Representatives, will streamline basic operations like drafting and sharing committee reports. The updated HTML applications can easily transition documents into efficient PDFs rather than the current back-and-forth process consisting of software, hardware and hard copies to successfully author a committee report.  

While this is one anecdotal example, Halpern describes the streamlining of these processes as a big leap.

“Frankly, as I'm looking at the future as the head of an organization where we're looking for growth opportunities, building solutions based around the tools that folks are using now, so around [Microsoft] Word and enabling you to get good copy out is actually a huge step forward,” he said. “I think over time [it] will kind of revolutionize the way the Congress produces its documents.”

Leadership at the GPO is looking to implement changes with XPub across various federal agencies to make government services more efficient. 

“We hope to be deploying XPub for bills resolutions and amendments, hopefully by the end of this calendar year,” Halpern said. “I believe that we will be ready. It will be dependent on our customer when they want to deploy that, but we are hopeful that…within this next two year timespan you will see the fruits of that result.”