Bill to Close the Washington Printer Introduced
The legislature has convened for the current term in the State of Washington, and it looks like business as usual, at least for that state’s Department of Printing (PRT). A group of Republican and Democratic Senators, including Senator Rodney Tom, who sponsored a similar bill last year, has introduced Senate Bill 5523, which would eliminate the state printer.
The bill reads in part:
“NEW SECTION. Sec. 1 The legislature finds that technological changes have decreased the need for a central state printer. Information to citizens is increasingly being provided in electronic formats, which is both cost-effective and saves natural resources. Additionally, as printing technologies have changed, they have become within the reach of most agencies to conduct their own printing. The legislature also finds that printing is not a core state service and would be better handled within the private sector. Therefore, the legislature is eliminating the state printer.”
Let’s look at a couple of the provisions in this paragraph.
“...technological changes have decreased the need for a central state printer.” If anything, many of the technological changes have increased the need for a central state printer. Technology is expensive, both to acquire and operate, and maximizing efficiencies requires high levels of use. Does the state really want every agency to invest in high-end production equipment, even if they lack the volume to justify it or people with the necessary skills to run it?
“Information to citizens is increasingly being provided in electronic formats, which is both cost-effective and saves natural resources.” That sounds good, but aren’t we generalizing? Is everything printed by and for state agencies “information for citizens?” Or could it be that there are other uses for printed material, like gathering information, distributing policy information, or promoting state products (think apples)?
Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.
Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.