By Patrick Rucker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Private printing presses are among the businesses that will be hit hard if Washington goes ahead with $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts, a government official said on Wednesday.
The U.S. Government Printing Office, the printing press for official documents, uses about 16,000 private vendors to carry out most of its work, which is due to shrivel if the "sequestration" cuts kick in on Friday.
"Some vendors may have as much as 80 or 90 percent (government business)," Davita Vance-Cooks, the acting GPO director, told lawmakers on Wednesday. "It is entirely possible they will see a reduction in their revenue. They may even close."
The automatic spending cuts will take a modest bite out of the GPO budget, but about 84 percent of the agency's business comes from other agencies - such as printing passports - so its bottom line is expected to take a hit as the federal government pulls back.
About $48 million in GPO spending went to Maryland last year, Vance-Cooks said, while Virginia sees $11 million and Florida some $12 million.
The Department of Defense is the largest client for the GPO, but Vance-Cooks said she thought the Pentagon - which may have to put most of its 800,000 civilian employees on unpaid leave for 22 days - would have other priorities.
"I think that they're involved in looking at other things beyond printing," she told a congressional panel. "I think printing will be probably the last thing they start to look at."
(Editing by Fred Barbash and Peter Cooney)