Washington Department of Printing to be ‘Studied’
What’s going on in the State of Washington? The State Auditor’s Office (SAO) has selected a “Subject Matter Expert” to conduct a “Printing Services Performance Audit” of Washington’s Department of Printing. The successful consultant is BERK and Associates (www.berkandassociates.com), “an interdisciplinary consultancy integrating strategy and policy, financial and economic analysis, facilitation, design and communications.” They don’t sound like subject matter experts in printing to me.
The Washington Department of Printing (DOP) is a big business. Its roots date back to 1854, when the legislature established the position of Public Printer. (See IPG article "Not the State Printer You Used to Know".) DOP is a self-supporting operation and receives no general fund appropriations.
According to the State Government Performance Review issued by SAO, Printing showed a profit of nearly $900,000 in FY 2008, but that fell to a loss of $1.35 million in FY 2009. Sales over the last three years range from $31 million to $36 million. To put that in perspective, Printing would rank between #150 and #165 on the Printing Impressions Top 400 printing company list. A million dollar plus loss is serious, even for a shop of this size, but we have every reason to believe that Public Printer Jean-Luc Devis and his team are making the necessary adjustments.
DOP is structured to provide a wide range of print document management solutions to most Washington state agencies. It is required by law to charge no more than the price of the same job as listed in the Porte Publishing Company's Franklin Printing Catalogue. The performance review acknowledges that Porte no longer publishes the Franklin Guide. The assumption seems to be that the current version of Franklin is used to develop national averages pricing, and that information is somehow relevant.
It fails, however, to identify which version of Franklin pricing guide is to be used: The Offset Pricing Guide or the Quick Print Pricing Guide. Nor does it consider that neither version of Franklin is intended for use by a shop of this size. Nevertheless, one version of a bill to move Printing under the Department of Information Systems maintains the provision that Printing cannot charge a price “...that exceeds the price listed in the Franklin Printing Catalogue.”
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.