When FDR was elected president, Augustus E. Giegengack, a working printer and regular leather apron man was inspired to public service, aspiring to be be appointed Public Printer of the United States, head of the Government Printing Office.
Giegengack didn't know FDR, he didn't run in those circles. In WWI, he was the printer for Stars and Stripes, later on he ran operations for other print shops. So, to make his case, he went on the Rotary Club circuit in up-state New York and gave talks about his vision for the GPO. At the end of each talk, Augustus asked people to send him their letters of endorsement. Pretty soon he had a pile of 200 letters.
Gus Giegengack took those letters, bound them up real pretty, and sent them to the White House. He got the job, and went on to become the greatest public printer since Ben Franklin, printer to the pre-United States.
Gus had the gumption to go for the gold, and I am inspired by his example to tell you my vision for the GPO, an agency which opened its doors the day Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, an agency which has worked to "Keep America Informed" for 148 years.
If I were given the honor to be nominated by the president and the further honor to be confirmed by the Senate, my platform for revitalizing the GPO and rebooting .gov is spelled out in a detailed series of policy papers submitted to the Presidential Transition Team.
Please allow me to highlight a few of the items that I think we all need to pay attention to, and I invite you to contact me so we can continue to talk about these issues. Publication is a two-way street, and I hope this is the beginning of a long-term dialogue about the public domain and how the United States of America presents itself to the world:
1. America's Operating System. The Government Printing Office serves all 3 branches of government and prints the Official Journals of Government. GPO should lead the effort to make all primary legal materials produced by the U.S. readily available. [ more ]
2. Librarians. Librarians are the bedrock of the public domain and the defenders of our fundamental right to access knowledge. GPO should work even more closely with our libraries and reform the Federal Depository Library Program to support them better. [ more ]
3. Jobs. As commodity printing goes the way of the PDF file and the copy machine, GPO must retrain and refocus its workforce, working with the unions and the employees so we may face the challenges of the future. If nominated and confirmed, I would work to establish a United States Publishing Academy, reviving the grand tradition of GPO being in the lead for workforce development, vocational training for students, and educating the rest of the U.S. government on how to print and publish effectively. [ more ]
4. Security. GPO produces passports and other secure documents. The current design for passports uses an RFID chip, which means that an American can be picked out of a crowd merely by having a passport in their pocket. If nominated and confirmed, I would ask security expert Bruce Schneier to form a Blue-Ribbon Commission to reexamine the design of passports and other secure documents so we can better protect the privacy and security of all Americans.
5. Jobs. The GPO workforce includes some of the best master printers, bookbinders, and other professionals of the publishing profession. With our cultural institutions, writers and other artists, and using the historical archives of the United States, the GPO should create more materials for the public domain, both as fully produced books as well as freely available master files for others to use and remix. [ more ]
6. Rebooting. Gov. There is no reason why the U.S. Government should not be one of the top 10 destinations on the Internet! GPO should work with the rest of the U.S. Government to radically change how we present information on the Internet. Some of the initiatives would include installing a cloud for .gov to use, enshrining principles of bulk data distribution into legislation, and a massive upgrade in the government's video capabilities. [ more ]
7. Full Transparency. GPO serves all 3 branches of government. As the nation's service bureau, GPO must be fully transparent in its own financial affairs and should be a forceful and effective advocate for the public domain. Most importantly, the GPO must be fully transparent to its clients--the Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Judiciary. If nominated and confirmed, I would pledge to serve on the front lines of customer service, working to understand the needs of our clients and the public.
For over 20 years, I have been publishing government information on the Internet. In 2008, Public.Resource.Org published over 32.4 million pages of primary legal materials, as well as thousands of hours of video and thousands of photographs. In the 1990s, I fought to place the databases of the United States on the Internet. In the 1980s, I fought to make the standards that govern our global Internet open standards available to all. Should I be honored to be nominated and confirmed, I would continue to work to preserve and extend our public domain, and would place special attention to our relationship with our customers, especially the United States Congress.
Access to information is a human right and the United States of America is the world's leading producer of information. As the publisher of the United States, GPO plays a vital role in promoting useful knowledge, promoting the progress of science and useful arts, and promoting and preserving the public domain.
Thank you again for your support. To learn more, visit YesWeScan.org.