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Composition and Workflow Tools

Solicitation Number: GPORFI0003
Agency: Government Printing Office
Office: Acquisition Services
Location: Acquisition Services
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Sources Sought
Added: Sep 13, 2010 2:02 pm


This Request for Information (RFI) is issued for market research, budgetary and planning purposes only.

 The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) is interested in obtaining information from vendors and industry concerning technology products and systems that could be useful to GPO in meeting GPO's document composition and workflow tool capabilities.

GPO is seeking information about commercial composition engines that may meet GPO's requirements. The composition engine will be the tool that is used to compose all publications that are currently composed using MicroComp (e.g., the Congressional Record, Federal Register, Congressional Bills). This tool is not an authoring tool, but will accept already coded XML as input and output PostScript that can be distilled to PDF. Output will match the typographical and formatting style of the original publications. The engine will support the composition of all types of formatted content, including tables, footnotes, headings, columns of text, side notes, graphics, equations, continuation indicators, indexes, and table of contents.


GPO is also seeking information about commercial workflow tools that may meet GPO's requirements. The workflow tool allows for automated and human-based tasks and actions to be defined, scheduled and executed. Workflows will be created by administrators and will have the capability to be customized to meet the GPO's needs for production processes, including pre-processing, composition processing, and post-processing. Workflows will be versioned and there can be as many variations on a workflow as GPO chooses to design. The workflow tool also has the capability to create audit trails and real time reports for system processes, and support workflow history management and reporting of individual user activity.


The United States Government Printing Office's (GPO) current composition system is based on a 30-year old batch composition engine, developed and maintained by GPO, called Microcomp. Microcomp is currently used to compose the majority of Congressional documents and select Federal agency publications that are printed and published electronically by GPO.

Microcomp was originally designed to compose data files with typesetting-specific codes called locators. Locator codes are tied to external format files that specify style attributes to be applied to segments of content. Over the years, approximately 700 related applications and utilities (e.g., translation tools, delivery tools) have been developed to enhance and sustain the Microcomp composition process in response to the evolving needs of GPO's Congressional customers and changing in-house print and electronic access requirements. In response to Congress' adoption of XML as a data standard, GPO attempted to retrofit Microcomp to compose Standardized General Markup Language (SGML) / Extensible Markup Language (XML). Subsequently, Congress sought to improve workflow processes for content creators as well as search and retrieval of data by end users. As a near-term solution, the retrofitting of Microcomp was suspended and GPO decided instead to translate XML files into locator codes for printed publications.

 As a long-term strategic decision, GPO has decided to replace the system altogether, a project referred to herein as Composition System Replacement (CSR). The envisioned system will work within GPO's enterprise architecture (EA) as well as operating as a stand-alone application deployed remotely at customer sites. The system will be rules-based to facilitate the migration of content into future data tagging schemes/technologies while utilizing industry best practices. Output from CSR must match the typographic style and page layout of current printed publications. It must also be capable of generating output in data formats to support enhanced search and repurposing of data. It will interface with GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys) for content submission and dissemination.


GPO is seeking to better understand the available technology solutions and capabilities that industry can offer related to composition and workflow tools.  The capabilities GPO is interested in specifically are described and documented in two separate vendor surveys, located at: The document posted here explains in more detail the information that is requested.

 Requested Information

 •1.      Please send your questions about this survey via e-mail to and Arza Gardner at

•2.      If you require additional information prior to submission of your survey response, please contact: and Arza Gardner at

•3.      All questions must be submitted in writing no later than 9/20/2010. Responses to each question will be provided to all vendors.

•4.      Completed vendor survey responses are required via e-mail by 3:00pm EST on 9/27/2010. Please submit survey responses to and Arza Gardner at

•5.      Following your response, additional information and clarification questions may arise and be asked by GPO.

•6.      GPO may ask interested parties to participate in follow-up, in-person demonstrations of their capabilities at GPO. These will be scheduled after the receipt of vendor survey responses, with the aim of conducting these demonstrations in the coming weeks.

 NOTICE:  This announcement is a request for information only and does not obligate the GPO in any way.  This is not a request for proposal and the GPO will not pay for any information submitted or for any expenses associated with providing information.  Any information submitted by respondents to this RFI is strictly voluntary.  Material submitted will be deemed proprietary to the extent permitted by applicable laws and regulations if so marked by the respondent.

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Trade Study -Question and Answers

Other (Draft RFPs/RFIs, Responses to Questions, etc..)
Trade Study -Question and Answers
Posted Date:
September 21, 2010
Description: Q&A for RFIGPO0003

Response to additional questions.

Other (Draft RFPs/RFIs, Responses to Questions, etc..)
Response to additional questions.
Posted Date:
September 23, 2010
Description: Questions & Answers -09232010
732 North Capitol Street, NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20401
Arza E. Gardner,
Director, Complex Acquisitions
Phone: 202-512-1488