Recipes, resume's, football pools, jokes, chain letters and other unofficial items run through federal copying machines will bear the tattletale markings "Reproduced at Government Expense," if a new program at the Government Printing Office catches on in other agencies.

The GPO has added those four potentially embarrassing words to the printing device on photocopying machines. GPO strongly suspects that some of the 19 million photocopies made each year by its 5,600 employes are not official business.

GPO figures that the cost of modifying photocopying equipment to put the government's stamp on each copy produced will be more than offset by savings realized when people stop engaging in unofficial copying.

Many federal photocopying machines are "keyed" so that the identity of the user and the number of copies produced are also recorded.

But most government machines--and there are tens of thousands of them--can be operated by anybody who can figure out how they work --if they can find one that works!

Other agencies are looking at the GPO experiment, and may adopt it themselves. (One can only hope that this sort of thing, which is fine and good in government, does not spread to certain newspaper offices.)

Costs per copy vary by machine and agency, but many commercial establishments charge anywhere from 10 cents to 50 cents for a single copy of a letter-sized document. Some government agencies have color-photo copiers that cost Uncle Sam about 60 cents per print.

Some GPO employes are insulted by the new system; others think it is a good idea.

There are only two offices at the GPO where you can still get a photo-copy without having "Reproduced at Government Expense" splashed all over the page. Go to the office of the public printer (he runs the place) or the general counsel. They sure don't want that stuff stamped on their copies!