Home » post » 200610221300 FDLP/DLC : Plenary Session: Public Printer : Virginia Rigby’s notes

Our mission

Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

200610221300 FDLP/DLC : Plenary Session: Public Printer : Virginia Rigby’s notes

Bruce James’ Plenary Session Oct. 22, 1 pm – 2 pm

Welcome to the 2006 Fall Federal Depository Library Council Meeting and Conference. Washington, D.C.
[There appear to be about 500 people present. Chairs are set up with council surrounding the head table with Bruce James and Judy Russell.]
Meeting called to order by Council Chair. Introduction of council members.
Introduced Mr. Bruce James, the public printer, who announced his retirement. Has done a good job with the printers moved the GPO forward. Excellent staff. Provided a lot of direction for the GPO.

Bruce James

Thanks for the introduction. He missed wisdom.
8th opportunity to speak to FDLP. First in Reno Nevada. He is going back at the beginning of next year. It has been quite an experience to see people who attended the meetings.
He introduced Carol Tullo from London who will also speak. He met at a dinner with Alan Weinstein, who hosted the dinner. What the major nations are out there doing about their documents. In Britain, our comparable agency is Her Majesty’s Stationery Department. They had been consumed by another office. Their office was being merged into the National Archives. James wondered if that might happen here.

Carol Tullo

She didn’t start out in public service but as a lawyer in private practice. She was asked by PM to help for three years in the Office of Public Sector and Information, what it’s doing and why it is merging with the National Archives.
Over the last few months she has seen what is happening in the U.S. and in Britain. We actually share the same vision. We share the same language and same challenges. She is in charge of government information. 300 years ago, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office was asked to look after all government publishing. They have to be concerned with the whole government. She is concerned with one right owner of the information, one person who has the sole mission to ensure that people can access the government information.
Part of the Stationery Office involved with printing should go into the public sector through contracting. HMSO is an independent office in the Public Sector Department with a UK focus. They don’t really differentiate what happens outside the government and within. There is a big push to recognize what is available and integrate the information. She thinks it is about 2/3 years away.
It does seem that an industry and a service with print that they meet demands. She has public access fees designed to help with that access. Things change. People don’t buy the hard copies. Majority is online access.
Real challenge is not just a replica on the screen, but how best to use the information. It is a challenging aspiration for the last 8 or 9 years.
How are users getting the information and using the materials they access? And so they have to transfer funds into online access, anything that is freely published in downloadable form. They have a responsibility to deliver to the widest audience. It is an elevated stewardship of the information.
In their beginning, they had about 2500 users a month, now about 15 million. Even divorce settlements are under her purview. This is almost mind blowing the responsibility. They need continuous access to the information. The knowledge is grown in government and the agency has to struggle to keep up with it.
Merging takes place at the end of this month. She is working to have an effective link and strategy to do so. They do have copyright issues that need waiving for online access. Their copyright code is an NC in a circle. That tells who owns the authorship.
We need to recognize the integrity of the document. We have to control every aspect of it. That is a shared vision and same focus as the GPO. She is hoping to absorb some of the same information as we seek.

Bruce James

It reflects what other governments are struggling with around the world. Carol brought up a subject the dividing of global and community information. We have a constitutional separation. National Government Publishers Association held meetings. Out of that session there was a strong interest in how we could work in concert with each other. Bring together congress and GPO and council to visit the issues. Even though we don’t have a structure to deal with that issue, we could find a way to do so. This needs to be explored.
When I addressed you 4 years ago, I didn’t know much about libraries and government. I’ve learned a lot from you and congress. About the big issues in front of us.
Could GPO be saved? It was a serious question. GPO was broke. Really a serious problem. Should GPO be saved? Executive branch said no longer needed. Listed a statement to divide up GPO. Question posed, what is the purpose of GPO? Was the word Frame preventing us from finding our focus. Had that purpose really gone away? Was it relevant in the 21st century? Could we get a consensus with all the parties involved on a 21st century mission? We needed Congress and publishing industry in the vision, the union employees in the vision. Could we have a shared vision of the 21st century? Could we redeploy those assets? Council asked, where will the money come from to pursue the new vision? That was the most important question, where would the money come from. If congress wasn’t going to help us achieve it, what assets did we have to do this?
4 years later, we are in a different position. We aren’t out of the woods, but he would say we have come a long, long, long way in a short period of time. Successful in creating a strategic vision. There was not a clear vision when we began, but he is amazed that we have gotten everyone on the same page. In the vision document that cause concern, but we all came together and council played a strategic role. They educated him about what the FDLP was all about. Our founding fathers felt it was most important for our government to be informed citizens and the government had a responsibility to inform the citizens. Everything that has come forward from that was through that.
1861 congress wanted to centralize it. No body was keeping track at that time. But the depository library system was began… not sure any country has anything similar to our depository system… you can either buy one to have for yourself or go to the depository library’s to see a copy.
The library system, he came to understand that it protected the system of government. He was giving a speech and a question from the audience. How do you feel about gun control? Every citizen should have a gun to protect them from the government. Government is nothing but people. Bureaucrats, purpose is to loose track of everything else. (i.e. National Archives) well intentioned people who don’t understand the value of their actions. No one in Virginia does…
Got a strategic vision and then got finances under control. Most of the money went into people. Reduced workforce by 30%. Worked with the unions and the people. Gave people an incentive to take early retirement. That caused them to go from red ink to black ink. Closed the bookstores. At the end of the day, we gave our managers and leaders power to predict results and manage results. We didn’t have that before. So we created the system to help them to make intelligent decisions.
We now have our home …we are creating a profit, which is used to reinvest in GPO and in our people. We have added 300 new people to the organization. These are folks with interesting backgrounds, computer scientists.
Roughly 2200 people are from the traditional role and we put 300 seasoned from the private sector to work along side the traditional. They worked well together and they worked side by side. They share their knowledge and skills. We now have the beginnings for a true 21 century workforce.
Some of the best leadership is from the union leadership. They didn’t obstruct us, they were pushing us to work harder. GPO is a 150 year old organization. There has been technological change. Unions don’t see tech as an enemy, but a friend. They have been unbelievably supportive.
James philosophy is to push decision making down to the lowest level possible. Flatten the organization. It used to be that James’ office was made about capital investments. Strategy training office. and they worked on where to send the money and the resources. Now, these are not top management but the deputies. They take the pot of money and split it up. They made a few mistakes, but they made 95% correct decisions. They had to live with their decisions. They will continue to make the decisions as to where to put the money.
Because GPO was loosing money, they stopped spending money on training. 3/5% on training. $3 million in training. They began to address other things like partnerships, travel, etc. GPO had no partnerships. He started an Office of Innovation and Technology. A person at GPO and a person from the outside. They began to look at universities and the money spent there.
Incredible work being done. We are building systems. Mike and him are working on the process.
The efficiencies in developing metrics caused them to be more efficient and those funds are helping to pay the bills for GPO.
As he moves on as public printer, he thought about those things we need to be thinking about and where GPO needs our support to see things through.
FDLP program has been a one way street to move information from the government to us. He and Judy have noticed that there is a lot of information in the depository system. They need the information we have put back into the FDLP system. They need this flow of information back into the depository system. He comes to the point that the political system is afraid that the institution is apprehensive about the retrospective program.
We need to work with Google and other private companies to digitize lost information. If GPO has all the information electronically, shouldn’t we have that information scattered around the country. Dumb question for industry and a good question for government. Printing is going away. It isn’t under the control of the federal government. Is that good enough? If we don’t have a solution yet, we need to think about it. At some point in the future, all information from the government will be electronic. Don’t know when, but we need to start planning. Can we stop progress of technology? We have to realistically come to grips. Printed documents that we should quibble over it but consider what we want. Can we keep a physical document in perpetuity? What does this mean and the implications? We have opportunities to do things differently than in the past and what it means? Where is the training coming from in the future? Real questions that we need to look at.
How can you best help GPO. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t want to help. He then thanked us for supporting GPO and himself . GPO has been the beneficiary of the support of the FDLP. Wonderful letters from library directors to congress in support for the GPO. Then support GPO for the new facility. 40 million is going down the drain. That doesn’t speak to the 100 of millions in assets. That is the money GPO is continuing to use to complete its mission.
With that, thanks Bill as chairman. This is the best group that they have had. I know, I say that every year. Thanks (applause)
This is a great experience. Thanks president for the opportunity to serve and he thanks his wife. It has been a life changing experience.


Q. C. Working with Google…how has your thinking evolved?
A. J. What we had to do to change GPO in a political environment. Very complex, he used a business model. Is printing getting in the way…should we change the name? The energy and the hearings…Design about a new logo? Did he have to go to congress to get permission to change the logo? He didn’t know, he just did it.
Congress is reluctant to go forward with our projects and we may have to throw our hats in with public sector because congress is too slow to make decisions if we want to get things done. Congress will not be interested in moving backwards if we don’t continue to move forward in the private sector. If we don’t go forward with the private sector, we may not get our goals completed. It is time to have these discussions again.
Q. C. How would private sector handle retrospective collections… If a lot of pages are missing, if we have partners with a federated approach, historical information, electronic measures…it really will help with our searching.
A. We need these discussions.
Q. C. Welcomes this discussion. The expertise that is out there. include our non-profit partners out there with the federal reserve. Universities, bringing together these partners will in rich our information.
Q. C. Who are three people I need to talk to?
A. Won’t answer. He will share the names but he doesn’t want to limit the pool of people to just a few.
Q. Penn. State Lib. Wrong that it has been one way from GPO to the FDLP.
A. You weren’t listening to him. Maybe the federal government got more out of the relationship than the libraries but there is a whole lot of information in local libraries and state and regional libraries that need to be preserved and GPO hasn’t addressed this issue.
Q. There are fugitive documents out there that need to be given to GPO but GPO has no vehicle to accept these documents.
A. So, what have you got there? James is surprised at the amount of information out there that is regional or local in nature that needs to be preserved. It is just amazing how people are using government information. There is this treasure trove of information that isn’t in the system and GPO has all these people who come looking for this information.
Q. Washington University. You met with a member of the Supreme Court… what did you talk about?
A. He met with the chief justice and it was a small meeting and he found him to be even more charming than he is in the media. Obviously smart. They discussed a range of things. James brought up a change in the way people were accessing and using the information. Justice mentioned that established a relationship with some services because they have some issues there are many private sector publishers in the courts that might be threatened. They are working with the courts for some plans. He is seeing changes with the system beginning with the chief justice.
Q. Shelley. GPO, legacy of the census. Can it be renamed? We have a hard time talking about funding from congress for it.
A. Yeah a good idea…but a nightmare. All of us have a favorite name. Not a high priority. Once again, the money, to be consistent. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need congress to support us. A. use the word “operation” if front of it because congress funds anything with the word operation in front.
Q. Tom Arlington. Can GPO be moved outside the Washington loop?
A. They have to be able to reliably and predictably able to deliver information to congress without getting into traffic jams. How many sites in the DC area? looked at 23 sites. They won’t have trouble finding a site, but they have to be within the area. The functions of congress are mysterious in many ways.
End. (applause)

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.