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Senate Rules Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing for Bruce James

Press release from the issuing company

as Public Printer of the United States October 8, 2002 -- (Thanks to Frederic G. Antoun, Jr, for providing this update.) On October 3, 2002, the Senate Rules Committee held a hearing to consider the confirmation of Bruce James as the Public Printer of the United States. By statute, the Public Printer is the head of the GPO, and is in charge of producing printed materials for the federal government, as well as making government publications readily accessible to the public. Based on James’ bio and the testimony in support of his nomination, it appears that the Senate will have no trouble confirming him as the next Public Printer. James has an extensive background in both the printing industry and in electronic publications involving the creation, storage, and dissemination of information electronically and on the web. He has worked for, owned and managed printing companies (he started his first printing business in his basement at the age of 12!) and electronic information businesses, including his tenure as CEO of Barclays Law Publishers. In his testimony before the Committee, James made it clear that while the need for image on paper will continue long after our lifetimes, there was also a pressing need at GPO and in the federal government to "sort out what continues to belong in print and what best belongs in information retrieval systems that allow users to define their own information needs, then search against a huge database of information to retrieve only what is needed." James believes that this merger of print and electronic information is a challenge faced by the GPO. He indicated that one of his major tasks was to assist GPO’s staff, customers and suppliers re-engineer GPO in order for it to remain relevant and viable into the future. Based on GPO’s long history of service and its role as the government’s primary link to government information, James believes that GPO’s existing staff and management, supplemented by exposure to private sector management, technical, and financial expertise, is up to the challenge. While not directly addressing the OMB challenge to GPO which would make GPO an optional source for printing, James did indicate that he was aware of the issue, and would work to determine what issues or changes OMB and agency customers wish to see at GPO, and move forward to implement those changes, in order to resolve the current confusion faced by agencies, private sector government print vendors and the GPO as to the future methodology or system for government print procurement. Finally, James gave a strong commitment to enhance the role of the Superintendent of Documents, which gathers government publications, stores them electronically, and disseminates hard copy or electronic versions to the 1300 depository libraries throughout the country. "There is only one government operation dedicated to the task of documenting, cataloging and distributing government information products, and that is the Superintendent of Documents operation within the GPO." James indicated that he would take whatever steps were feasible to assure that the system of gathering government publications and information and making it accessible to the public would be made as efficient and reliable as possible during his term as Public Printer. Witnesses at the Hearing (including Printing Industries of America Vice President, Ben Cooper) universally supported the James nomination. Both Republican and Democratic Senators indicated in their questions and statements that they felt Mr. James was the right man for the job, and, not surprisingly, wholeheartedly supported his prompt confirmation, so that he could begin the task of accomplishing the goals he outlined at the hearing. Although Congress has a lot on its plate, we hope that James’ nomination as Public Printer can be confirmed by the Senate before Congress adjourns this fall. James’ leadership and abilities are sorely needed during this critical time for Congress, GPO, its agency customers, and the private sector printers that produce 75% of government printing.

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