By Roberta H. Mather
Carrying the “Imagine. Create. Deliver” mantra as the Department of State’s central printing authority for more than 70 years, Global Publishing Solutions (GPS), located in the Bureau of Administration’s Global Information Services, takes the Department’s best ideas and important messages and packages them with a strong, compelling design. Propelled by three key office units—design, print and copier management—GPS supports offices domestically and every mission abroad from three locations—Washington, D.C.; Vienna, Austria; and Manila, Philippines.
Not only does GPS offer a trusted source of stock items like world maps, official portraits, business cards and ambassadorial stationery kits, it also responds to the secretary’s needs and other diplomatic requirements with rapid turnaround.
In September 2018, the Department’s Iran Action Group needed to release its report, “Outlaw Regime: A Chronicle of Iran’s Destructive Activities,” during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. With a critical timeline of only a few hours, GPS successfully turned the digital content into a printed pamphlet complete with color photographs for distribution during the assembly.
“This report played an important part in articulating our Iran policy at UNGA,” said Len Khodorkovsky, the public affairs office deputy assistant secretary of digital strategy. Showing that print and digital products are complementary, he added “The Outlaw Regime report has since then been downloaded over 12,000 times from state.gov.”
Furthering diplomacy, GPS supports programs like the Office of Art in Embassies (AIE), which has been dedicated to cultural exchange through the arts and supporting the mission of diplomacy for more than 50 years. GPS designs and produces the AIE catalogs of exhibitions and permanent collections curated for U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad. These catalogs are vital to posts’ and AIE’s cultural and educational outreach activities with the host communities.
“Given the security restrictions of U.S. diplomatic facilities, and the sometimes limited communication infrastructure in certain countries, these catalogs, produced by GPS, are frequently one of the few resources an ambassador or embassy staff has to promote American art and culture,” said Camille Benton, the AIE acting director.
GPS supports the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Antiterrorism Assistance (DS/T/ATA) by printing training products that are a vital aspect of the office’s mission to train foreign law enforcement agencies engaged in fighting terrorism. With numerous ATA program training activities occurring simultaneously across the globe on a weekly basis, GPS prints voluminous training materials in multiple languages and consistently delivers them to meet DS/T/ATA’s rigid training schedules.
“GPS’ production of the instructor and student materials for distribution in the classroom not only contributes to the successful imparting of counterterrorism knowledge and skills to the students but also promotes the ultimate program goal of sustainability of the capability within the partner nations,” said DS/T/ATA’s Course Materials Manager Wayne Capino. “Thus, GPS is a mission-critical link in the delivery of the ATA program’s training that is a national security priority.” Beyond print, GPS supports digital campaigns providing solutions from start to finish, ranging from simple logos or Facebook banners to supplemental print products.
Dean Cheves, director of GPS Manila, said that GPS complements the Department’s commitment to being digital-first by bringing “a tangible permanency, since print lasts. Printing supplements all temporal digital programming with lasting tactile, trustworthy information.” For example, when the Department hosts an EducationUSA Fair around the world, Cheves said GPS makes sure that “participants have hard, persistent, reliable and trustworthy printed guidance material in their hands as they head home to start their education planning. The books we produce do not require electricity, a data plan nor a battery.
They are in the end user’s local language. In fact, among many developing nations, our materials are shared broadly among several individuals. … I try to let public affairs officers, cultural affairs officers and regional English language officers know that we can assist in supplementing their public facing digital campaigns with quality, branded, cohesive and, most importantly, trusted material that cannot be hijacked or reinterpreted during delivery.”
Cheves continued, “Overseas, GPS has become the easy-to-use supplement to General Services Administration for hundreds of posts, especially smaller posts with limited local resources. GPS produces thousands of items like letterheads, stationery, consular forms, training materials, certificates and envelopes. We print millions of diplomatic pouch tags annually. These are chain-of-custody controlled and thus meet Diplomatic Security standards.”
Looking ahead, GPS continues to support the Department through the expansion of its document scanning services, offering a controlled, secure environment for scanning and paper digitalization, records retention and destruction of bulky paper records. Instead of rummaging through boxes and cabinets of files to find a particular credit card receipt or travel document, office teams using this technology will be able to quickly find documents after a simple text search.
“GPS is excited to add document scanning to our portfolio of services. Digitizing documents will help our customers save space, provide searchable and secure archives, plus meet National Archives and Records Administration’s 2022 requirement for electronic records,” said acting GPS Deputy Director Pamela Holton. “It is all about downsizing in a smart, intuitive way.”
GPS staff are multitalented across many skills sets and are counselors of design and communication consistency. Not only does GPS offer services and products, but it also holds the authority on all matters related to the Department and embassy seal (5-FAM 1300). Consistency of the Department’s larger brand is of utmost priority, for the face of diplomacy abroad is often the face of the United States. Therefore, when in doubt, the GPS design team encourages offices to reach out for guidance. In a sea of information and competing messaging across the globe, the official message of diplomacy needs to stand out.
Visit GPS’ website on OpenNet for more information on the services and products.
Roberta H. Mather is the marketing director at Global Publishing Solutions.