Inaction in Congress is doing more than angering constituents across the nation. The lawmaking body’s lack of action has caused the dismissal of dedicated government employees who are unable to work around the partisanship on Capitol Hill.
Such is the case with the Government Printing Office, or GPO for short. Their top leader, Bill Boarman, stepped down recently right before the New Year, but not because he personally chose to move on. He was not confirmed by the U.S. Senate in enough time to save his job and continue in his role as Public Printer.
Boarman was originally nominated for the role in April 2010 and President Obama gave him a recess appointment earlier in 2011. Still, he loses his spot since he was not confirmed by the U.S. Senate at the end of 2011. The Senate went on holiday break shortly before Christmas.
As an alternate move, Boarman appointed Davita Vance-Cooks to the role of Deputy Public Printer on December 20th. This ensures that the agency has some sort of capable leadership in place upon Boarman’s departure.
Despite his disappointment with the confirmation process, Boarman was quick to offer praise for his successor.
“Over the past year, Davita Vance-Cooks has been a leading member of GPO’s senior management team in developing and carrying out our program of reducing the size and cost of GPO, streamlining our operations, and utilizing new technology, a program that has yielded positive results for the Government and the taxpayers,” Boarman said in an official statement announcing the appointment of Vance-Cooks.
“Her superlative leadership skills and extensive management experience over multiple mission-critical GPO operations uniquely qualify her for the position of Deputy Public Printer,” he added.
“I am honored that she has accepted this appointment, and have full confidence in her abilities to continue carrying out GPO’s historic mission of Keeping America Informed,” said Boarman.
The twist: Vance-Cooks will become the first female to ever lead the agency. Boarman’s departure apparently had a silver lining despite the impasse in Washington. She is also breaking another barrier as an African American holding the position. She has experience in both the private sector and the federal government.
The Government Printing Office and its 2,200 employees are responsible for printing and disseminating all official hardcopy and digital information about the U.S. government — including Congressional documents and U.S. passports. The department also oversees the Federal Digital System, an online portal that houses U.S. Court opinions, Congressional records, presidential documents, the U.S. Constitution, among dozens of other federal documents. In addition to printing, they also catalogue and index government materials for future use.
In dealing with waste, the agency has focused heavily in recent years on reducing the actual paper that the government uses. The GPO has attempted to move the federal government toward a more paperless environment that helps to reduce costs to the taxpayer. How it does that while still maintaining its mission as government “printer” remains to be seen.
During her time with the GPO, Vance-Cooks has taken lead on some key initiatives that continue to move the agency toward more digital-oriented services. As the most recent head of the publications and information sales unit, she led the GPO’s partnership with Google to publish federal documents in an e-book format. She also helped to develop an award-winning government book blog.
In addition to those duties, Vance-Cooks also improved the GPO’s call center and led the agency’s retail bookstore.
Vance-Cooks takes over the Government Printing Office this month.