Public Sector In-Plants Get the Job Done
Two events are driving this rant. One involved a conversation with a commercial printer, who stated, and I think really believed, that public organizations, like state and local government, should not have in-plant printing operations. He said that he had tried to hire a couple of former state print shop employees and “they didn’t work out.” He seemed to think that all state employees were defined by his experience with these two. The other was a response I received to my observation about the absence of academic research supporting the argument that outsourcing the print shop reduced the cost of printing to the organization. In both cases, public employers were characterized as being lazy and non-productive. One even used the term “state worker mentality.” I couldn’t agree less!
I worked in the public sector for most of my career, including over 20 years in state government, and the phrase “state worker mentality” is offensive to me. The men and women I know are hard working and dedicated folk who do a great, if thankless, job for their organizations.
When the legislature of my state mandated that my agency print and distribute 1.5 million, two-color, 16-page booklets in about a month, state workers got the job done because no commercial shop would take on the project. Oh yeah, we got the rest of the printing our agency needed out as well.
It was state workers who took the lead in fighting high printing costs at my agency by routinely offering suggestions to our customers on ways to reduce printing costs. This effort was so successful that the commissioner of the agency implemented a policy requiring anyone who chose not to follow one of our cost-saving suggestions to get written approval from his/her deputy commissioner. That’s sort of like getting your vice president to sign off on a print job.
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.