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Union Officials Criticize GPO’s Restructuring

Union officials testifying before the House Administration Committee on Wednesday raised concerns that recent organizational changes at the Government Printing Office have left the agency “top heavy” with management positions.

Public Printer Bruce James defended his agency’s recent transformation — which included hiring the GPO’s first-ever chief operating officer — asserting the positions are necessary to implement new business strategies and to provide employees with training in new technologies.

Joint Council of Unions Chairman George Lord criticized GPO for the recent addition of high-level management as well as travel by GPO officials, calling the initiatives “wasteful spending.”

“We’re headed on a collision course,” Lord said after the hearing, asserting that revenue losses could negatively impact rank-and-file employees.

William Boarman, vice president of Communications Workers of America, made similar remarks to House lawmakers, stating: “This could and may result in cuts for the workforce or benefits.”

In response to similar inquires from Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) during a subsequent Appropriations subcommittee hearing, James noted that the agency generally lacks mid-level managers.

In the past 15 years, James said, GPO’s workforce has been reduced from 8,000 employees to about 2,500. “In that period GPO stopped making an investment in young people,” he added.

James said his agency has recently hired “seasoned managers,” in addition to business experts who will work as contract employees.

“I think we’re a much stronger organization,” said James, who has won praise from House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) for his work to reorganize GPO’s business plan.

A GPO spokeswoman noted the agency now has 27 senior-level employees, compared to 23 senior-level employees employed in 2002, before James’ tenure began.

GPO officials also presented their $151 million fiscal 2005 budget request during Wednesday’s hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch.

House lawmakers also discussed GPO’s proposal to seek a new headquarters site.

“Most of the work we do is for Congress … and so we are going to need to keep a significant facility within driving distance of the Capitol,” James noted.

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