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[Editor’s note 8/6/19: Andy Sherman, who was accused in this story, but who served admirably for 38 years at GPO in several administrative positions, sent me this Letter to Chairman Blunt that he sent in January, 2019. Andy explains that there was no misconduct, and gratefully allowed me to post the letter to FGI in order for our readers to have a fuller understanding of this news story. With this context, as well as the knowledge that the June 2018 report was sent to Congress but that neither the House Administration Committee nor the Senate Rules and Administration Committee took any action, should clarify this tempest in a teapot story. Thanks Andy!]
This scandal has been slowly boiling at GPO for quite some time — well before Davita Vance Cooks resigned as GPO Director in November, 2017 and may be part of the reason that Robert Tapella’s nomination as GPO Director was recently withdrawn. You can read more in the June 21, 2018 Interim Report Of Investigation Into Alleged Misconduct By Two Senior GPO Managers. Tune in to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing “Oversight of the Government Publishing Office Office of the Inspector General” on Wednesday July 24 at 10:30am EST. Whatever the outcome, this is sure to have a negative impact on the management of the FDLP.
Allegations of cronyism, wasteful spending and other misconduct are roiling a little-known federal agency in charge of producing and distributing the government’s official documents, including paper questionnaires for the upcoming 2020 census.
According to an internal watchdog report obtained by NPR, two officials at the U.S. Government Publishing Office — previously known as the Government Printing Office — allegedly violated federal laws and regulations by filling agency jobs with unqualified candidates, including an official’s son. The GPO’s Office of Inspector General has not finalized its findings, but in June, it sent an interim report to the joint congressional committee that oversees the agency.
There is something bracing about a Congress, or a congressional committee, that embraces its oversight and investigatory powers with a kind of constitutional “old testament” righteousness. Our constitutional founders created a divided government for very good reasons — and even though this model of shared governance amongst three co-equal branches is messy, inefficient, and at times politically distasteful — when the pendulum of “checks and balances” gains a particular civic rhythm, the insights and research unleashed are extremely satisfying.
Exhibit A in this democratic discourse is the House Judiciary Committee report: REINING IN THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY: Lessons and Recommendations Relating to
the Presidency of George W. Bush. This 487 page report details many of the long-standing objections about how President Bush chose to exercise his authority — often at the expense of the people and other branches of government. That is not to say, obviously, that the other branches were innocent bystanders in this constitutional encroachment. When the Congress was under the thumb of either republicans or democrats, our legislative leaders showed little constitutional backbone to push back against the presidents power grab. Only the supreme court demonstrated some sense of the limitations on Bush’s treatment of the war prisoners.
Of particular interest to this community is the report’s Section 5: Government in the Shadows: Executive Privilege, Secrecy, and the Manipulation of Intelligence and Section 4 – Misuse of Executive Branch Authority. As we enter a new political season that attempts to walk back the cat on many of these policies and programs, I can think of no better primer that enables any engaged citizen/librarian on what went wrong and how to get back to a more reasonable constitutional ecosystem.
See you on Day 8.