Washington Department of Printing to be ‘Studied’
Printing performance audits can be a good thing, if done properly. The problem here is the process. The State Auditor’s Office Work Request was issued July 12, 2010. Only firms that were “prequalified” were allowed to bid on the work. Let me repeat what I said above: the title of the work request is "Subject Matter Expertise for Printing Services Performance Audit." Only one of the 60 or so prequalified firms even mentioned printing, print shops, document management, or any of the terms we would associate with "Subject Matter Expertise" in the documents provided by the Sate Auditor.
To SAO’s credit, the firm that mentioned printing was the successful firm, but one must question the openness of a process that prequalifies vendors without looking into their, well, qualifications. And one of the shops listed by the winning firm as a successful project consisted of six or so employees—hardly a benchmark for a $30 million plus plant with 130 or so employees.
The work request also imposes an incredibly rigid time line. Vendors were given 11 days to submit proposals. My information is that the successful vendor was notified on August 16 and has until August 24 to complete the first deliverable—developing a set of standard definitions. By October 8 the consultant is expected to analyze the current business model and calculate the total costs of operations for Printing, AND calculate total costs, volume and performance of a couple of dozen sate agencies as well.
What’s the big rush?
At the end of the day this seems to be a process driven by politics, rather than an attempt to create governmental efficiencies. A bill to move Printing under the umbrella of the Department of Information Services passed the House of Representatives earlier this year but hit a snag in the Senate. In a move that shows no semblance of understanding the nature of the document production process, one State Senator is leading an initiative to eliminate DOP altogether. According to the February 20 edition of The Olympian, the senator said he "wants to abolish the 100-worker shop because agencies can use desktop printers for small materials and private companies if they need brochures or reports printed.” He added that state government is “stuck in a steno pool age.” Whether his opinion is widely shared remains to be seen.
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.