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Agency Publication Guide

A resource for producing Washington state publications

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It is the state's goal to insure that all publications are produced and distributed in a way that both meets the needs of the state and controls publication costs. This guide is designed as a resource for agencies to help them comply with legal requirements and to provide information on the most cost effective alternatives in producing state publications.

The Office of Financial Management has been directed to report on implementation of chapter 40.07 RCW, regarding management and control of state publications and to "make recommendations concerning the use of alternative methods of distribution, including electronic publication, of agency reports and other publications and notices." Although some agencies are exempt from publication guidelines issued by OFM under chapter 40.07 RCW, they may be subject to other statutes, directives, and administrative policies referenced in this guide.

What is a state publication?

RCW 40.06.010 defines state publications as the following:

"State publication" includes annual, biennial, and special reports, state periodicals and magazines, books, pamphlets, leaflets, and all other materials, other than news releases sent exclusively to the news media, typewritten correspondence and interoffice memoranda, issued in print by the state, the legislature, constitutional officers, or any other state department, committee, or other state agency supported wholly or in part by state funds.

Keep in mind that, according to this same RCW, the term "print" includes all forms of reproducing multiple copies, with the exception of typewritten correspondence and interoffice memoranda. Therefore, these guidelines do cover electronic publications. With advances in technology, however, these guidelines may not always be applicable. Agency staff are encouraged to use common sense, keeping in mind the intent of the legislation and the principles of publication guidelines.

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Deciding to produce a publication

State law sets out the guiding principles for managing state publications in chapter 40.07 RCW, which states:

No agency head shall recommend a state publication for printing and distribution, other than those required by law, unless the benefits from the publication and distribution thereof to the citizens and taxpayers of this state clearly exceed the costs of preparation, printing, and distribution. - RCW 40.07.030

While this is a subjective standard, legislative intent is clear. The Legislature has historically taken a dim view of unnecessary publications. The statute states that agency heads must determine whether the benefits from a publication exceed the costs of production and distribution before any publication is authorized.

OFM recognizes that agencies need to produce high-quality, well-designed publications to reach their audience but recommends that they do so "in the most economic manner consistent with effectiveness and achievement of program objectives" [RCW 40.07.030(5)].

While decisions about individual publications are generally left to the discretion of individual agencies, RCW 40.07.030(2) gives OFM the authority to "selectively review state publications in order to determine if specific state publications are economically and effectively contributing to the accomplishment of state agency program objectives." The Governor or the Governor's designee in OFM also has the authority to "eliminate, consolidate, or simplify state agency publications" under RCW 40.07.040(1).

Annual evaluation of every publication is required

State agencies must conduct an annual evaluation of all publications in accordance with OFM guidelines to determine whether they will be produced, revised, or distributed through other means (RCW 40.70.030). Internet publication, for example, may be a better choice for some formerly printed publications as it is often more cost-effective and readily accessible. Agencies should keep in mind that not all citizens have access to electronic publications and should determine the audience when deciding how best to distribute the document.

If the requirements of a federally-mandated state publication conflict with any of the state guidelines for publication or distribution, agencies are required to send a copy of the publication to the OFM Director with a letter of transmittal citing the federal statute, rule, or regulation requiring the publication (RCW 40.07.050). This requirement does not apply to publications that already meet the state publications guidelines defined by statute, Governor's Administrative Policy, OFM Directive, and this guide.

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Electronic publications

Current direction: enhance citizen's access to state information through electronic publication

RCW 43.105.250 provides that, "It is the intent of the legislature to encourage state and local governments to develop, store, and manage their public records and information in electronic formats to meet their missions and objectives. Further, it is the intent of the legislature for state and local governments to set priorities for making public records widely available electronically to the public." RCW 43.105.270 requires that, "within existing resources, state agencies shall plan for and implement processes for making information available electronically."

Electronic publications can be an effective alternative

In many cases, electronic communications - whether through the Internet, CD-ROM, or some other medium - provide a cost-effective alternative to printed publications.

The Department of Information Services (DIS) provides advice and direct services to agencies in designing and maintaining communications networks. Information on the Web Presentation Guide can be found at here.

For further assistance, agencies may consult with DIS by e-mailing

While the number of households and business connected to the Internet is growing rapidly, agencies should recognize that not all citizens have access to electronic communications and they are not a substitute for printed materials in all cases. In addition to issues of public access to information, the Attorney General's Office has determined that electronic communications are not a substitute for printed reports required of state agencies under various statutes.

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Style, formatting, and production

The Governor's Office has directed all executive branch agencies, boards, and commissions to "balance the effectiveness of printed materials with cost considerations when selecting formats, colors, and logos."

Use recycled paper and ink where possible

The State Department of Printing is continually working toward a cleaner environment and encourages the use of recycled products. The State Printer uses non-petroleum (vegetable) based ink, and over ninety-five percent of all paper used for state printing has recycled content.

The state clearly intends that recycle standards be followed for state publications. It is recommended that agencies follow this intent by consulting with the State Printer or the Copy Centers about printing stock available, and affixing a recycle symbol to your publication. For current information regarding the Washington State Department of Printing, consult their website at

Standards for state letterhead and business cards

Common sense should dictate printing decisions but some specific standards should be adhered to for stationery (letterhead and envelopes) and business cards printed by the State Department of Printing, the Department of Corrections printing facilities, agency in-house printing facilities, and private printing firms utilizing state funds.

While these requirements apply specifically to letterhead and business cards, OFM recommends that agencies apply the same standards of simplicity to publications.

Guidelines for agency publications

Agencies are encouraged to develop internal policies and procedures to govern their publications, whether generated in paper or electronic formats. These policies and procedures should:

Disability access and ADA language

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all state services, including publications, be accessible to people with disabilities.

In communicating with employees, applicants, clients of services, or the general public, all state agencies, boards and commissions shall ensure that Teletypewriters (TTYs), sign language interpreters, assistive devices, and information in alternate formats shall be provided upon request.

The Governor's Committee on Disability Issues and Employment, which can be reached at 360-438-3168, offers a guide on producing materials in large print, cassette recording and ASCII formats. This publication, Producing Materials in Alternative Formats: A Guide for Agencies, also lists resources for securing professionally produced Braille and other formats. The Braille Access Center, at the Washington State School for the Blind, 360-696-6321 Ext. 158, and the Taping Program, at Central Washington University's Disability Support Service Office 509-963-2171 will contract with agencies to produce materials in Braille or tape, respectively.

The Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium,, has developed guidelines for improving access for people with disabilities to materials provided through the Internet.

Sample ADA language

ADA language must appear on all agency and institution documents available to the public. This language lets individuals requesting alternative formats and/or accommodations for meetings know how to notify agencies of their specific needs.

Sample ADA language is provided as a reference.

If you would like copies of this document in an alternative format—large print, Braille, cassette tape, or on computer disk - please contact (provide name of agency, address, phone number, and TTY/TDD number).

To obtain this publication in alternative format, please contact the (indicate agency) ADA Coordinator at (address, phone, fax).

This document is available in alternative formats to accommodate persons with disabilities. Copies of this document can be obtained in alternative formats by calling (contact phone number, TTY/TDD telephone number).

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Review and approval by OFM prior to legislative submittal

Any report prepared by an executive agency for the Legislature must be reviewed and approved by OFM's Executive Policy and Budget Divisions prior to transmittal to the Legislature. OFM reviews these reports for policy, fiscal, and program content. At a minimum, a two-week period is necessary for OFM review. OFM staff will notify agencies upon completion of the review.

To expedite review and approval, agencies are advised to contact their assigned OFM budget or policy analyst early in the planning process and keep the analyst informed about the status of the publication until complete. In general, it is desirable to send the analyst a draft of the final publication. In no case should publications be printed in quantity before OFM review. For additional information, please refer to OFM Directive 96-11 or contact the OFM Executive Policy Division at 360-902-0641.

Distribution to the Legislature via the State Library

Direct distribution of agency publications to the Legislature has been prohibited since 1989, when the Governor directed OFM to work with the State Library and agencies to reduce the volume of publications received by elected officials. Instead, agencies must transmit three copies of publications to the State Library, which will then publish the information through the Legislative Alert List.

The Legislative Alert List is published monthly and is sent to legislators, legislative analysts, agency directors, and designated agency employees. The List contains the publication title, date, agency name, length, and the name and telephone number of the agency contact. Agencies may post publications in the List by sending three copies along with the information listed above to:

Washington State Library
State Distribution Center
PO Box 42460
Olympia, WA 98504-2460

Individuals may request publications directly from the issuing agency if the publication is of interest. For more information, or for a sample copy of Legislative Alert, contact the Washington State Library at 360-704-5265.

Reports prepared for distribution to a limited audience or specific committee or with a rush timeline can be sent directly.

The State Library requires additional copies for statewide distribution

To help assure that the public has access to information and that historic records of state activities are maintained, OFM Directive 00D-01 requires that agencies use the State Distribution Center at the State Library to make information available through libraries statewide.

The State Library uses depository libraries to insure that publications are available for the general public. Ideally the State library requests that state agencies provide them with 50 paper copies of all publications written for a general audience, the Legislature, or the public. These copies will be made available at depository libraries throughout the state.

If a publication is produced for limited distribution, the State Library requests 15 paper copies for the Full Depository libraries only. These guidelines apply to state publications defined by chapters 40.06 and 40.07 RCW.

To determine the number of copies needed, agencies should call the State Distribution Center or 360-704-5265 or 360-704-5226.

The State Library may also request that agencies furnish the Distribution Center with a complete list of current state publications and a copy of its mailing and/or exchange lists RCW 40.06.060. Mailing and/or exchange lists provided to the State Library fall within the guidelines of RCW 42.17.260 and 42.52.050, relating to confidentiality. Call the State Library at 360-704-5226 for more information.

State Library collection program

Before recycling old state publications that have outlived their usefulness to state agencies, please contact the State Library. The State Library may be able to distribute such publications as RCWs, session laws, and agency publications to libraries in Washington State. Contact the State Library at 360-704-5265.

Mailing publications at the lowest available rate

RCW 40.06.040 requires that state publications distributed to the public and the Legislature be mailed at the lowest available postal rate. Assistance with bulk mailing is available from the State Printer (see the Department of Printing website: Consultation on developing and formatting agency mailing lists is also available.

Cleaning up publication mailing lists

State law requires that state agencies notify recipients of agency publications at least once per biennium to provide the opportunity to be removed from the distribution list. Exempt from this requirement are mailings required by a state or federal statute, rule, or regulation; those maintained by an institution of higher education for official fund raising or curriculum offerings; bulk mailings addressed to "occupant" or a similar designation; and paid subscriptions (RCW 40.07.040).

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Fees and advertising

Charging fees for state publications

State law provides some agencies with specific statutory authority to collect fees for the publications they produce. For example, under RCW 77.12.185, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is authorized to "collect moneys to recover the reasonable costs of publication of informational materials by the department and shall deposit them in the state treasury to be credited to the state wildlife fund."

The state Public Disclosure Law also allows agencies to impose "a reasonable charge" to recover the cost of providing copies of public records pursuant to public records requests (RCW 42.17.300). The law stipulates a maximum charge of 15 cents per page for copying. However, the Office of the Attorney General has advised OFM that the Public Disclosure Law should not be interpreted as providing blanket authority to agencies to charge for publications not relating to a public disclosure request. Absent specific statutory authority, state agencies are advised to consult with their assistant attorney general before charging for a publication produced for general distribution.

Advertising in state publications

Agencies that accept advertising for their publications, should be aware of chapter 82.32 RCW which states:

Advertising in state publications is limited to instances where the advertiser has a certificate of registration from the Department of Revenue, and when - if not obligated to collect and remit state retail sales or use tax - the advertiser agrees to voluntarily collect and remit these taxes, or agrees to provide the Department of Revenue with the names and addresses of Washington customers to whom sales were made as a result of the advertisement.

This restriction applies only to advertising that offers items for sale or solicits orders for sales (RCW 40.07.070). It is the responsibility of the agency to verify registration and provide this information to the Department of Revenue. For more information, contact the Department of Revenue's Taxpayer Services Division at 1-800-647-7706.

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Resources available

State Department of Printing

The State Printer can accommodate all public printing needs through the combined resources of its main printing plant, copy centers, and private vendors. When the job has special specifications or the turn-around time is too short for plant production, the Department of Printing will bid an order to a private vendor to ensure that agencies receive high-quality publications at the lowest cost possible.

Main plant

The Department of Printing Main Plant is located at 7580 New Market St SW, in the New Market Industrial Park in Tumwater. Services provided by the plant include graphic design, traditional and electronic prepress, single and multi-color offset printing, variable information printing, binding, mailing, copy reproduction, and order fulfillment. Customer service staff members are available to assist agencies in producing cost-effective publications that also meet postal requirements for receiving the lowest possible postage rates.

Agencies may request estimates and order stationery online, download printing request templates, and receive more information about available services by visiting the Department of Printing website,

State copy centers

The Copy Centers were established in 1965 to assist state agencies with 81/2"x11" and 11"x17" printing orders, requiring black ink and short turn-around time. Today's Copy Centers offer state-of-the-art copying and finishing facilities designed to meet the diverse technological requirements of their customers. High-quality digital color copies, transparencies, and tabs are just a few of the advanced services available at Department of Printing Copy Centers. Copy Center locations are listed in the state SCAN directory or on the Department of Printing's website at

Agencies are encouraged to use the Copy Centers to take advantage of savings. Copy Center prices are available at any copy center, or online at

Agencies may also call the State Printer at 360-570-5555 in advance for a job estimate when in doubt about publication costs, or request estimates online at

Agencies requiring assistance locating the appropriate Copy Center can call Copy Center 1 (General Administration Building) at 360-753-6818.

For more information, call the Department of Printing at 360-570-5555, fax 360-586-8831, or write: or

Department of Printing
PO Box 798
Olympia, WA 98507-0798
Mail Stop: 47100

Consolidated mail services

To assure agencies meet the statutory requirement to mail publications at the lowest available postal rates, agencies are encouraged to use services provided by Consolidated Mail Services, a program within the Department of General Administration. Consolidated Mail Services makes over 990 daily "campus" deliveries at more than 625 locations on the west side of the state. The service area extends north to Marysville, south to Vancouver, west to the Aberdeen and Raymond areas, and east along I-405 to Monroe.

Agency mail stops are listed in the SCAN directory or updated mailstop/PO Box lists are available from CMS Customer Service. Agencies are cautioned not to use the U.S. Post Office to send mail to state agencies that are serviced by Consolidated Mail. All mail with a 98504 ZIP code is delivered through Consolidated Mail Services.

High-speed mailing equipment is available to automate the distribution of publications provided by state agencies. This equipment identifies and affixes appropriate postal bar codes to outgoing letter-size mail and ensures the lowest possible postage rate allowed by the post office. Use of these services or similar services offered by the State Printer will assure compliance with RCW 40.06.040, described above under Mailing.

Consolidated Mail Services also provides presorting, inserting, folding, bursting, labeling, and package manifesting services. A state-of-the-art self-mailer is available to help agencies reduce their mailing material and storage costs.

For questions or assistance call the Consolidated Mail Services Customer Representative at 360-664-9506.

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