Congress

Trump nominates director of Government Publishing Office

If confirmed, Hugh Halpern would be first permanent director since 2017

Copies of President Donald Trump's budget for fiscal 2020 run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington. Trump nominated Hugh Nathanial Halpern to be director of the agency Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The agency responsible for producing U.S. passports has been plagued by leadership instability since 2017, but President Donald Trump’s move to nominate Hugh Nathanial Halpern of Virginia to be the Government Publishing Office’s director Tuesday could end that streak.

Halpern worked as the director of floor operations for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan before Halpern retired in January. He was the staff director for the House Rules Committee and worked on several other committees, including the House Financial Services Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee over the course of 30 years.

[Fifth GPO inspector general in last year concerned with leadership instability]

Halpern holds a law degree from George Mason University. 

The GPO produces, preserves and distributes federal government official publications and information products for Congress, agencies and the public.

It is currently led by John Crawford, the acting deputy director.

The nomination of a GPO director does not necessarily entail a quick route to confirmation by the Senate. In June, the White House withdrew its nomination of Robert C. Tapella to lead the agency.

Tapella was initially nominated by Trump in 2018 and was subsequently renominated before being ultimately withdrawn from consideration. The last permanent director of the GPO was Davita Vance-Cooks, who left in October of 2017.

Consistency is not an isolated problem at the GPO. The agency has also endured a great deal of turnover in its inspector general post. Further, the GPO’s workforce has dropped from 8,000 to less than 1,800 over the last 40 years, according to agency inspector general Michael P. Leary.

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