The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) designs, prints, and finishes all of the Nation’s paper currency and many other security documents including White House Invitations and military identification cards. They also advise and assist other agencies to produce government documents. This agency is part of the Department of the Treasury. The BEP is also responsible for the printing of security documents in the United States.
This agency has approximately 1,808 employees at two primary locations; Washing, DC and Fort Worth Texas. According to the BEP website, “employment opportunities include, but are not limited to, administrative support, police officers, security specialists, acquisition specialists, chemists, engineers, attorneys – just to name a few.” Other occupations include IT specialists, scientists, machinists, printers, and engravers. The printer and engraver occupations are in the Wage Grade system.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
The United States began printing paper money in 1862 to finance the Civil War. The law of July 11, 1862, authorized notes to be engraved and printed at the Treasury. In 1864 the BEP printed forms for the Treasury, engraved passport plates for the State Department, and numbered money orders for the Post Office.
The Act of March 3, 1877 officially made the BEP the exclusive printer of all U.S. currency and securities. In 1894 the agency also started printing postage stamps and continued doing so until June of 2005.
The BEP designs, engraves, and prints all U.S. paper currency. In 1996, the agency began creating new designs for our money. This was the most comprehensive overhaul of our currency since the 1860’s. Other government printing services are also provided by the BEP including the printing of Presidential appointment certificates, military identification cards, naturalization documents, Small Business Administration financial documents, Coast Guard water use licenses, Presidential portraits, and vignettes of various Washington, D.C. historical buildings. The agency also is responsible for treasury securities, military commissions, award certificates, invitations and admission cards, and many other types of identification cards, forms and other special security documents for a variety of government agencies. The BEP is the largest producer of security documents for the United States. Incidentally, they do not make coins which are produced by the United States Mint.
Programs and Services
U.S. Currency Reader Program
The BEP has developed an iBill® Talking Banknote Identifier at no cost to eligible blind or visually impaired persons who request one. The iBill® is a currency reader device that provides a convenient means for blind or visually impaired individuals to identify Federal Reserve notes (U.S. currency). Its compact “key- fob” design allows it to be carried in a pocket or purse, clipped to a belt, or attached to a keychain or lanyard. The iBill® is a fast and accurate means to identify all U.S. currency in circulation: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.
The BEP provides currency readers, free of charge to all eligible blind and visually impaired individuals. This program has only been in existence since January 2015. To take advantage of this program applications must be submitted along with a competent authority who can verify their eligibility.
Through this program the BEP has developed EyeNote® a free mobile device application for use on the Apple iOS platform. It scans U.S. currency and announces its value back to the user. They also assisted in the development of another currency denominating app called the IDEAL® Currency Identifier. It operates on the Android platform. For information about this program visit this helpful link http://www.loc.gov/nls/.
Redeem Mutilated Currency
Every year the Treasury Department handles approximately 30,000 claims and redeems mutilated currency valued at over $30 million.
Mutilated currency is currency which has been damaged to the extent that: Its condition is such that its value is questionable and the currency must be forwarded to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for examination by trained experts before any redemption is made. One example of mutilated currency may be bills missing relevant security features.
Currency can become mutilated in any number of ways. The most common causes are: fire, water, chemicals, and explosives; animal, insect, or rodent damage; and petrification or deterioration by burying.
You can purchase five pounds of shredded currency through the BEP. These are small amounts, that are pre-packaged souvenirs are available at either their Washington D.C. and the Fort Worth visitor centers.
U.S. Currency Facts
- Crane and Co., a Massachusetts-based company, has been providing the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing with paper for U.S. currency since 1879.
- Federal Reserve notes are a blend of 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton. Currency paper has tiny red and blue synthetic fibers of various lengths evenly distributed throughout the paper.
- It would take 4,000 double folds, forwards and backwards, to tear a banknote.
- No matter the denomination, a banknote weighs approximately 1 gram. Because there are 454 grams in one pound, this means there are 454 notes in one pound of currency.
- Want to measure your notes in a different way? A stack of currency one-mile high would contain more than 14.5 million banknotes.
- It is estimated that between one-half to two-thirds of the value of all U.S. currency in circulation is outside of the U.S.
- In 1934, the $100,000 Gold Certificate became the highest denomination ever issued. It was never intended for public use. Instead, it was meant solely for official transactions between Federal Reserve Banks.
Read about federal job listings for more information on credentials needed and how BEP workers impact U.S. currency.
In our next article we will focus on two job occupations engraver (WG-4413) and platemaker (WG-4416).
- Lydia Washington, Public Affairs Officer, Bureau of Engraving and Printing – DC Facility (Washington, DC)
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