GPO boss out after Senate fails to confirm him

The head of the Government Printing Office is out of a job after senators failed to confirm him to the position before leaving for the holidays.

President Obama granted William Boarman a recess appointment earlier this year after nominating him in April 2010 to lead 2,200 workers at the agency responsible for printing government documents, training manuals, passports and maps.

More on this Story

View all Items in this Story

By law, recess appointees not confirmed by the end of the next Senate term must step down. In November, two GOP senators dropped a hold on Boarman’s nomination and seemingly assured his eventual confirmation, but Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said late Saturday that fresh concerns with the nomination meant it wouldn’t happen.

Boarman said he expects to be out of a job by year’s end.

“I don’t know of anybody that’s opposed to me. It’s really a strange situation,” he said in an interview late Sunday. “I’m very disappointed, but I’m honored that the president chose me and we were able to make some changes at the agency.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who pushed for Boarman’s confirmation, blasted Senate Republicans for blocking a vote.

“It is appalling when you get a public servant who cares about this government, in a nonpolitical place, the Government Printing Office, who has done an excellent job by all accounts — cutting costs, what we on both sides of the aisle want — and he gets held up,” Schumer said Saturday. “Instead of getting held up he should get an award for the job he has done.”

A former senior vice president with the Communications Workers of America, Boarman admitted shortly after his nomination that he had received about $3,000 in payments from GPO despite being on official leave from the agency since the late 1970s to serve in the union’s leadership. He said that he promptly repaid the money after the agency acknowledged “administrative errors” and that all concerns had been resolved.

White House officials and aides to Reid and Schumer didn’t return requests for comment on the basis of the new objections to Boarman. Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said Republicans were ready to vote on a series of nominees Saturday, but the White House didn’t assure them that Obama wouldn’t issue new recess appointments over the holidays.

Boarman isn’t the only recess appointee who must leave by year’s end. Senators also failed to hold votes on Matthew Bryza, appointed to serve as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, and Mari Carmen Aponte, tapped to serve as top U.S. envoy to El Salvador.

Boarman said he feared the fate he suffered could deter others from stepping forward to serve. Even before a formal nomination, “you have to open your whole life up,” he said. “I had the FBI look at everything I’ve done since I had my First Communion — and I’m 65.”

Boarman said he is most proud of helping GPO turn a profit for the first time in years. Under his watch, the agency began recouping about $30 million in unpaid fees from other federal agencies, initiated employee buyouts that targeted 330 jobs, and surveyed congressional offices for the first time to determine their true printing needs.

“I think Congress is going to move towards a paperless workload, but I think it’s five, six years down the road and we were helping them get there,” Boarman said. “We were being proactive.”

He said he’s leaving public service with no bitterness.

“Politics is tough,” Boarman said. “I’ll get over this. It’s just one facet that was extremely disappointing.”

 
Read what others are saying