Paper Money

BEP Washington facility resumes printing of the $100 Federal Reserve note

Production of Series 2017A $100 Federal Reserve notes, already underway at the BEP facility in Texas, began in November at its Washington facility. A Fort Worth note is illustrated here.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s Production Reports for November and December 2020 revealed something that has not been seen in more than seven years — $100 Federal Reserve notes produced at the agency’s Washington, D.C., facility.

That was last done in September 2013 when Series 2009A $100 notes were printed for the Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco Federal Reserve banks. Since then, all production of the denomination has been at the Fort Worth, Texas, facility.

The new production report says the Series 2017A notes made in Washington were, at least thus far, only for the Atlanta bank, with 16 million regular notes and 320,000 star notes listed as the November output, followed by 16 million regular issues and 3.2 million stars in December.

A Treasury Department’s Office of the Inspector General report in December 2019 covered in detail the problems that originally halted production of the Series 2009 NexGen $100 Federal Reserve note. After the problem was thought solved and printing was resumed as the Series 2009A, another problem arose in September 2013 that caused another halt in work on the denomination, but only in Washington.

It was so bad, the OIG report stated, that notes that were already shipped from Washington to the board for issue were returned to the BEP. The board stopped accepting $100 note deliveries from the Washington facility until it “demonstrated improvements in its manufacturing and quality operations and controls and a successful production validation was completed. A third-party assessment was also to be conducted to evaluate and verify the improvements.”

The new problem was called “mashing.” BEP defines that as over-inking that normally happens at printing startups. It can be significantly reduced through the use of ink solvents and software configuration upgrades to printing equipment. The stumbling block in Washington was that local environmental emission standards prohibited BEP from using the same ink that was being successfully used in Fort Worth.

A new ink solvent was identified in December 2013, and approval to use it was given by local environmental regulators in November 2015.

Further validations were still required, however, and the BEP goal was for each printing facility to produce every denomination in the 2020 fiscal year, an objective it missed by just a month, since the 2021 fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

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