Keeping quiet is not an option for Public Printer William Boarman as pressure on the GPO has grown.
But Boarman said the agency’s “outdated” name may soon be swapped for a title that more accurately reflects the GPO’s mandate and role in the digital age, a change he hopes will lessen pressure from fiscal conservatives.
“Clearly the GPO is no longer a government printing office,” he told Roll Call. “It’s more of an information office or a publishing house or something like that.”
While that’s in the works, Boarman’s chatting with Members on the House and Senate Appropriations committees and the GPO oversight panels to discuss the agency’s mission.
His appeal takes on a debunking tone. He tells Members that the GPO has slowed paper printing drastically, including copies of the Congressional Record, which has declined from 20,000 copies a day in 1994 to 3,700 copies today.
He tells them that the GPO has also shrunk its workforce from 8,000 to 2,200 employees over the past 25 years. He shares the cost difference between pages printed by staffers in-office and those mass-produced by the agency — 7 cents compared with less than a penny per page.
Mostly Boarman focuses on the GPO’s electronic mandate. All online PDFs of the federal budget, committee hearing discussions and testimonies, proposed bills, presidential speeches and orders, and more come from the GPO, making it invaluable, he said.
“Congress can’t operate or open its doors without us giving Members the materials and resources they need to legislate,” he said.
As for printing, Boarman said the GPO will stop printing when Members and committees do. If people read reports from their computers, the GPO wouldn’t have to print anything, he said. But he doesn’t think that’s realistic, and when committees print their own copies, they end up wasting more money.
Boarman said that most Members receive him positively and that he’s certain “once our story is told,” animosity toward the agency will decrease.
“Things are getting better,” he said. “There will always be people who say, ‘Let’s get rid of GPO,’ but we have a lot of friends in the Congress. We certainly expect that we’ll be funded at a fair level, and we’ll be around for a long time.”
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.