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Newsletter of the Federal Depository Library Program
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Bruce R. James
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We’re very happy to be here today to present the GPO’s budget request for FY 2004. I also want to compliment you and the Members of the Subcommittee on the excellent staff you have in Liz Dawson and Chuck Turner; we really look forward to working with them.
With me at the table are Bill Turri, Deputy Public Printer; Judy Russell, Superintendent of Documents; and Frank Partlow, Chief of Staff.
My prepared statement has been submitted for the record. I would like to make just a few brief remarks summarizing what we are doing at the GPO and how our appropriations request relates to our objectives.
Mr. Chairman, the GPO has a proud history, one built on a singular dedication to meeting the printing needs of the Federal Government and the information needs of the American people.
But GPO’s middle name tends to obscure our true mission, which is keeping America informed by distributing the official information products of the Government. This is a mission that traces its origins to our Founding Fathers.
Just as the GPO’s middle name gets in the way of understanding our true mission, the nature of what we do-printing-has been eclipsed by revolutionary changes in electronic information technologies, especially the Internet.
While printing will not disappear in our lifetime, its role in our lives-and in the lives of GPO’s customers-has been forever changed.
We need to sort out what continues to belong in print and what best belongs in information retrieval systems. We need to allow the public to define their own information needs, then search against databases of information that we construct to retrieve only what they need, only when they need it.
Therein lies the challenge for GPO. Like every other manufacturing business in America, GPO must reinvent itself if it is to remain relevant and viable for the future. As Public Printer, I am leading this effort.
Our first step is to determine the facts regarding GPO’s strengths and weaknesses and the problems and opportunities facing us. We are already doing this by participating in a GAO study of Federal printing and information policy ordered by Congress. When this study is concluded later this year we will have a factual basis on which to build a strategic plan.
Once the plan is developed, our next task will be to gain support from Congress, the Administration, our customers, the library and information communities, the printing industry and the labor unions, and from all those who have a stake in the future of Federal information policy.
Then we must carry out the plan to transform the GPO into an information service equipped and staffed to meet the information demands of the 21st century.
Since I took office in early December, we’ve begun several initiatives to transform our operations:
Mr. Chairman, the transformation of the GPO is well underway. In order to make it happen, however, the GPO needs funding not only to continue product and service provision, but to begin making the investments we know are needed now to position us for the future.
Our appropriations request for FY 2004 is targeted at these two objectives: maintenance of product and service quality, and investment in necessary technology improvements and critical workforce restructuring:
To begin essential investment in GPO’s future, we are requesting additional funds above the levels required for continuation of services. These funds, amounting to slightly less than 2% of GPO’s total annual budget, represent a new point of departure for GPO.
Along with our appropriations request we are seeking two technical legislative changes to Title 44, U.S.C:
We’re also requesting an increase for GPO’s representation fund to help us promote the concept of changing the GPO. These changes will help us in transforming the GPO.
Mr. Chairman, GPO’s appropriations request for FY 2004 represents a new departure for this agency in preparing for the future. GPO desperately needs to move forward aggressively to seize the opportunities that can be provided by marrying new technology with best practices found throughout the private sector. Our budget request will help us take those forward steps.
I thank you for your support and encouragement of change at the GPO, and I look forward to working with you and the Members of this Subcommittee in your consideration of our request.
This concludes my remarks, and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.