Providing Americans with access
- By Margaret A.T. Reed
- Aug 04, 2003
"Richard G. Davis selected as director"
When Richard "Ric" Davis was in fifth grade, he wrote a letter to his local congressman serving Virginia's Northern Neck, near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay for a history class assignment. The personal response he received from the congressman taught him the importance of serving his community through government — a lesson he has never forgotten.
Throughout his career, Davis has sought to serve his community by making it easier for the public to access information. He is currently the director of the Government Printing Office's Office of Electronic Information Dissemination Services. Davis oversees the agency's award-winning Web site, GPO Access, which provides extensive collections of government information.
Davis is well-respected by his colleagues for his leadership and outstanding commitment to the site.
Davis "has been a great mentor with whom I have thoroughly enjoyed working over the years. He has a drive and dedication that [are] infectious," said Karen Sieger, GPO's product services supervisor. "He's always gone above and beyond the call of duty, whether it be at work or at home."
Fresh out of the College of William and Mary's graduate school in 1991, Davis started his career at RJR Nabisco Inc. in Richmond, Va. Still hoping to fulfill his childhood dream of working for the government, Davis interviewed with several agencies before being tapped for GPO's Outstanding Scholar Program in 1992. Through the program, Davis rotated through several GPO areas, including marketing, sales, electronic information and library programs.
After learning about GPO's missions, Davis chose to pursue a career as a management analyst for the library programs service. He led the electronic transition staff and then joined electronic information dissemination services as product services manager. In 2001 he was named assistant director of the Electronic Services Division.
Since becoming director of the Office of Electronic Information Dissemination Services in April 2003, Davis has overseen the content of the GPO Access Web site and sought to continue GPO's transformation to a primarily electronic service.
Davis manages the U.S. Government Online Bookstore, the federal depository library locator system, a children's resource known as Ben's Guide to the Federal Government, and the GPO Access User Support Team of eight people who monitor and respond to feedback about the Web site.
Davis' involvement in GPO Access began in 1994 when GPO officials realized the potential of the Internet a tool for disseminating information.
"I was involved in GPO Access from the very beginning," he said. "It was a very interesting time. It was the beginning of the transformation from print to more electronic dissemination as the primary method of making information available to the public."
Davis is familiar with leaping into the unknown because he was a daredevil in his youth. He bungee jumped with a group of friends when he was 17, an experience that he says was exciting, but also one he is unlikely to soon repeat.
While standing on the ledge preparing to jump, Davis remembers thinking, "It's too late to back out at this point, so you just go for it."
Bungee jumping with friends as a teenager was "a lot like the work I'm engaged in right now. We're charting new territories for which there are no precedents. That to me is challenging on a daily basis," he said.
One item on Davis' agenda is giving GPO Access an updated look. Its redesign should be completed by late fall.
"I've been hearing a lot of requests from customers that we make our Web site more like Amazon.com and other online bookstores," Davis said. "I am leading the effort to bring a consultant to GPO to bring about enhanced capabilities."
Colleagues at GPO value Davis' forward-thinking and believe in his vision for the program.
"He really is one of our bright young people leading the charge into areas GPO needs to go," said T.C. Evans, deputy superintendent of documents for GPO's Office of Electronic Information Dissemination Services.
Davis brings to his job a dedication to service through government, expertise in all areas of GPO and a desire to keep GPO Access at the forefront of modernization. He has no intentions of stopping his commitment to maximizing the site's potential.
"I consider the Web site like a work of art," he said. "It's never perfect, it's always a work in progress...although I'm certain now that we've done a good job with it."
The Richard Davis file
Title: Director of the Office of Electronic Information Dissemination Services at the Government Printing Office.
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science from James Madison University and a master's degree in government from The College of William and Mary. He also completed additional graduate work at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Family: He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and son, Trevor, 8, in Gaithersburg, Md.
Favorites: Just finished reading John Grisham's "The Street Lawyer." "And, of course, needless to say, I am a Harry Potter fan," he said. Enjoys all the "Star Wars" movies, but his favorite is the first one. Although never interested when it ran in prime time on NBC, he has developed a great appreciation for "Seinfeld" since its syndication.