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Statement on Signing the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1995

July 22, 1994

Today I have signed into law H.R. 4454, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1995.

H.R. 4454 provides fiscal year 1995 appropriations to fund the Congress, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Technology Assessment, the Architect of the Capitol, the General Accounting Office, the Government Printing Office, and the Library of Congress.

In signing the bill into law, I note that this Act, the purpose of which is to provide appropriations for the legislative branch, also contains provisions affecting the operations of the executive branch. As a matter of comity, legislative branch appropriations acts historically have not contained provisions affecting the executive branch, and the executive branch has not commented on provisions of these acts. Since this Act contains provisions that depart from that standard, it is appropriate to express my views on these provisions. These provisions concern the involvement of the Public Printer and the Government Printing Office in executive branch printing related to the production of Government publications. Specifically, the Act includes amendments to existing law that expand the involvement of the Public Printer and the Government Printing Office in executive branch functions.

The Act raises serious constitutional concerns by requiring that executive branch agencies receive a certification from the Public Printer before procuring the production of certain Government documents outside of the Government Printing Office. In addition, the Act expands the types of material that are to be produced by the Government Printing Office beyond that commonly recognized as "printing." In light of these concerns, I will interpret the amendments to the public printing provisions in a manner that minimizes the potential constitutional deficiencies in the Act.

In this regard, the exclusive authority of the Government Printing Office over "the procurement of any printing related to the production of Government publications" will be restricted to procurement of documents intended primarily for distribution to and use by the general public. Additionally, in light of the substantial expansion of the role of the Government Printing Office that would be occasioned by a broad reading of the term, "duplicating," that term will be read to encompass only the reproduction inherent in traditional printing processes, such as composition and presswork, and not reproduced by other means, such as laser printers or photocopying machines.

The concerns raised by this Act reinforce my eagerness and resolve to accomplish a comprehensive reform of Federal printing in accordance with constitutional principles, an effort that began last year with the Vice President's National Performance Review. Reform legislation can improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of Government printing by maximizing the use of private sector printing capability through open competitive procedures and by limiting Government-owned printing resources to only those necessary to maintain a minimum core capacity. Reform of Federal printing practices can also serve to enhance public access to public information, through a diversity of sources and in a variety of forms and formats, by improving the printing and information dissemination practices of the Federal Government. I look forward to pursuing this effort in the next Congress.


The White House,

July 22, 1994.

NOTE: H.R. 4454, approved July 22, was assigned Public Law No. 103-283.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1995 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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