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Bruce James Details Plan for GPO, Relations with OMB, Libraries & Printers

Press release from the issuing company

May 27, 2003 -- (WhatTheyThink.com) -- In an in-depth interview with WhatTheyThink.com, Bruce R. James, Public Printer of the United States, says that his plan is on schedule to begin the process of guiding the Government Printing Office out of the 19th Century and into the 21st Century. James has restructured current staff and added new executives as part of his goal to build the new model for the preservation and distribution of government information. Working with libraries, Congress, the printing industry and GPO employees, James says that full-scale execution is on the horizon. Below are a few excerpts from the interview with Bruce James on various topics. (The interview was conducted by WTT contributing columnist Cary Sherburne.) Bringing a new perspective: “When I walked in the door, I found an organizational structure that was not in line with modern management practices. First of all, there were twenty-one people reporting directly to the Public Printer, and virtually every decision in the organization was made in the Public Printer's office, by the Public Printer personally. Now, I'm not a guy who is into running a business on a day-to-day basis. I have owned-but not run-printing plants, and to be honest with you, I have no interest in that aspect. I am much more interested in the leadership challenge of establishing a new vision and direction for the organization.” Restructuring the work force: “We started that process by offering 300 of our employees the opportunity for early retirement. We offered them $25,000 to do so, and had 500 employees apply. We will pick 300 of those, and it gives us the opportunity to streamline the organization, and to create exciting new positions for younger people to move into new roles, and at the same time, provide an extra bonus for long-term, loyal employees who want to retire early.” Current status with the OMB: “I think that Mitch Daniels has a thankless job as head of OMB. His job is to lock horns with every agency head to get them to look at their organization differently, to get rid of wasteful practices and use modern management techniques. They are true of heart in their intent. They saw the GPO as a big red brick building, and their first take was that the GPO was an inefficient monopoly. Over time, though, they came to understand that over the last fifty years, we have developed the most efficient print buying organization in the world, and they have backed off somewhat.” Indirect costs: “We are currently looking at how we can take cost out of the process of printing. There is a cost associated with putting ink on paper, but there is also a huge cost associated with the paperwork and bureaucracy of doing work for the government, the way our printers handle the procurement of paper, and many other parts of the process.” The future of libraries: “Libraries are undergoing a lot of change - don't look like anything I remember when I was a kid. Today they are more and more all electronic, and kids are using these electronic tools in ways undreamed of even five years ago. I am working with the Depository Library Council to help shape what libraries will look like in the future. Think about it: If everyone can access information from their living rooms, is there a role for libraries in the future? We think there is, and we are working with libraries to define how that relationship is going to work.” (James said that he missed the OnDemand show where he was to keynote because of a council meeting.) GPO spending trends: “Our spending is dropping like a rock for all the same reasons that it is in the private sector as well. People are electing not to print, to make information available digitally and to allow users to print what they need at their own computer printers. Nearly a decade ago, we bought three quarters of a billion dollars a year in printing. We spent about $430 million on outside printing last year. And I'm here to tell you that that decrease in spending certainly isn't due to the fact that the government is creating less information!” *Editor’s Note: This news story contains excerpts from a two part interview conducted by Cary Sherburne entitled: “High Calling: Bruce James’ Plan to Lead the GPO into the 21st Century”. Premium Access members can access this interview by visiting www.WhatTheyThink.com. Topics include: - Responsible for all information - The ultimate leadership challenge - Spending 80% of his time on the future - Outsourcing strategies - The OMB flack - Best value buying - Removing indirect costs - GPO’s outsourcing trends - Reverse auctions - Spending time with manufacturers - What is printed in-house, overseas - Libraries and their future - Accessing GPO bids online