Commentary & Analysis
Boarman Out as Public Printer
By Cary Sherburne
Published: December 19, 2011
In April of 2010, President Obama announced his intent to nominate William J. Boarman as the 26th Public Printer of the United States. As the confirmation process proceeded, numerous issues arose that brought significant questions about the nominee’s suitability for the position. WhatTheyThink covered this story in-depth throughout 2010, and you can read about some of the issues here and here or search for Boarman in the WhatTheyThink archives, in case you missed them the first time around. It is our understanding that these WhatTheyThink articles were widely circulated in the Halls of Congress.
Having failed to gain Boarman’s confirmation, the President ultimately asked the 25th Public Printer, Robert C. Tapella, who has remained in office during the confirmation process, to resign, and appointed Boarman as Public Printer while Congress was in recess. A recess appointment does not a confirmed nominee make, or so this story bears out. The nominee still has to be confirmed by the Senate.
One action Boarman took during his short tenure was to replace the Inspector General who had been investigating him after previously appointing an interim Inspector General in May of 2011. This may or may not have had impact on any ongoing investigation, since the Inspector General is supposed to be independent and objective.
Boarman, then, served as Acting Public Printer during 2011. With no Senate confirmation forthcoming, his nomination would have expired at the end of the year. Before adjourning for the holidays, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid returned the nomination to the President, saying on the Senate floor that new problems had arisen regarding Boarman’s nomination, effectively killing any chance Boarman had of maintaining his position. This, according to a story published in CQ Roll Call on December 17th, which did not specify what those issues were. Thus ends the sad saga of the 26th Public Printer. According to the CQ Roll Call article, Boarman will have to step down from the post sometime before year’s end.
During 2010 and 2011, WhatTheyThink tried unsuccessfully to gain an interview with Boarman and with key Senate committee members. Boarman kept a fairly low profile until recently, when he started surfacing on the speaking circuit. He appeared on NBC 4’s Viewpoint program in September of 2011. In addition, he addressed the National Depository Library Conference in October of 2011 and keynoted the sixth annual InterQuest conference targeting government and higher education in-plant printers in November of 2011.
Perhaps we should mount a Bring Back Bob campaign. Tapella, and his predecessor, Bruce James, did an outstanding job of bringing the antiquated Government Printing Office from the 19th Century into the 21st Century. Sure, Tapella is a Republican, but surely the President could reach across the aisle to bring back a proven candidate to run this important agency, responsible for some $1 billion in printing purchases.
WhatTheyThink will continue to follow this story as the President makes his next move.