From the Editor: NGPA ReflectionsFebruary 2014 By Bob Neubauer
I was still a youngster back in 1995 when I walked into my first National State Printing Association meeting in Kansas City. Sitting at long tables all around me were state printers from all over the United States, many of them appointed by governors. A well-spoken representative from the U.S. Government Printing Office pontificated on printing policy issues beyond my comprehension. They all glanced at me with vague curiosity, recoiling a bit from my camera. I was intimidated.
My comfort level didn’t exactly rise when the outspoken leader of the group, Don Bailey, State Printer of Nevada, told me I’d have to leave the room during a meeting when members would discuss their in-plants’ projects and challenges—the very things I had flown there to learn about. (I did enjoy a nice walking tour of Kansas City as a result, but I didn’t exactly get what I wanted.)
I came back, though. Again and again. Fourteen times in all. After a couple years, even Bailey warmed to me, and we became friends. In fact, I made a lot of friends in the group, which eventually changed its name to the National Government Publishing Association. The GPO rep from that first meeting, Andy Sherman, is now Chief of Staff, and we’ve been friends for years.
NGPA conferences took me to places I never would have gone: Bismarck, N.D., Mobile, Ala., Carson City, Nev. I visited a prison in-plant once, overseen by an NGPA member. I soon found NGPA to be a close-knit group, fond of its history. Photo albums documenting past conferences always made the rounds during social hours as members reminisced about absent friends. Over time, though, retirements added names to the list of absent friends, and attendance dwindled.
“I think it is bittersweet, but should be very helpful for present and future members of the NGPA to remain knowledgeable,” remarks Debby Messina, who oversees the State of Delaware Legislative Council’s in-plant, and is a 25-year NGPA member. “It will bring new experiences and knowledge from new friends that can only be helpful.”
IPMA President Rob Lingard, director of Central Services at Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators, agrees that the merger will bring excellent networking and educational opportunities to government printers.
“They are joining a strong organization that provides an effective networking opportunity,” he said. “It opens up broader opportunities for exposure to changes in the industry.”
NGPA’s final president, Mike Lincoln, who oversees the State of Colorado’s Integrated Document Solutions operation, orchestrated the merger as a way for members to continue meeting. In merger discussions, he made sure that NGPA could continue to exist within IPMA. The government group will meet during IPMA’s annual conference (June 8-12 in Milwaukee), where a separate track for government printers will be available. IPMA’s website will feature a section devoted to government in-plants.
“Being able to retain the NGPA identity was something that was extremely important to me,” he told me.
“Speaking for the GPO, I’m glad to see the NGPA will stay intact in its new association with the IPMA, where we hope it will continue to provide positive contributions to the field of government printing and information dissemination in the years to come,” said Andy Sherman, who noted that NGPA discussions have influenced federal printing policies and legislation over the years.
“Even more importantly,” he continued, “the NGPA over the years has been populated by an extraordinary group of people from around the country who have been great to work with, not only professionally but personally as well.”
Though some NGPA members, like Debby Messina, will have difficulty attending IPMA conferences due to June legislative sessions, others are excited to attend and make new friends.
“My hope is that merging with IPMA will give us the best of both worlds,” said Tammy Golden, director of the State of Tennessee’s Printing and Media Services division. “We’ll have the benefits that come with being part of a larger group, but still retain our identity as government printers.”
So NGPA will survive, have access to IPMA’s numerous educational sessions and be able to make lots of new in-plant friends. Even if it’s no longer standing on its own, NGPA has still been a big success.
“When we started in 1977 I gave it 10 years, tops,” NGPA Founder Don Bailey told me recently. “I am proud of our long run.”