GPO's first female superintendent of documents retires

The Government Printing Office has announced the retirement of longtime agency official Judith Russell, marking the second major leadership change at GPO in the past six months.

Russell, who most recently served as superintendent of documents, was the first woman to hold that position. She has been with GPO for nearly a decade and will leave the agency early next year.

In April, Public Printer Bruce James said he will step down by the end of the year once a new public printer is appointed.

During her career at GPO, Russell helped create GPO Access, a Web portal that allows easier public access to government documents and databases.

As superintendent of documents, Russell was the agency’s liaison to the library community and was responsible for modernizing the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), which consists of 1,300 academic, historical and other special libraries. Those libraries are in charge of providing public access to nearly 2.2 million government documents, including reference maps, the U.S. Code and the National Trade Data Bank.

"These past four years have been filled with a range of positive changes for the GPO, the FDLP and public access," Russell said today. "We have expanded our content and service partnerships with federal agencies and the depository libraries to improve service to the public and assure permanent access to digital collections."

GPO officials said they have not yet chosen a replacement for Russell.

She left the agency in the mid-1990s to direct the Government Services division at New York-based IDD Enterprises. In 1998, she took the job of deputy director at the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, the federal agency that advises the president and Congress on Americans’ information needs. In 2003, she accepted the post of superintendent of documents at GPO.

“She returned to the GPO to work on specific goals,” GPO spokeswoman Veronica Meter said. “Those projects are now well on their way, and Judy feels this would be a good time to look for new challenges and opportunities.”

Meter said that as part of GPO’s new strategic vision, Russell hired two seasoned managers last spring to oversee the day-to-day operations of her business units. Ric Davis now leads FDLP and GPO Access, while Kevin O'Toole oversees publication sales, including GPO's relationships with wholesale businesses, book dealers, publishers and libraries.

"Judy has done a tremendous job in helping GPO, federal agencies and the library community give the public electronic access to some of the government's most important documents,” James said.

Russell has a master’s degree in library science from the Catholic University of America. She has worked in the public and private sectors for 20 years, with stints as a librarian at Comsat Laboratories, George Washington University’s Program of Policy Studies in Science and Technology, and Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment.

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