GSA: Changing printing habits could save government millions

Monday - 10/17/2011, 10:19am EDT

Steve Kempf, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service, GSA

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By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

The federal government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to find savings, and it's looking in some interesting places.

For example, changing how federal employees print — the paper, the toner, even the font — could save the government hundreds of millions of dollars.

The General Services Administration calls it "PrintWise," a three-pronged initiative, which is part of the governmentwide penny-pinching effort, the Campaign to Cut Waste.

GSA recently awarded a blanket purchase agreement with 11 companies, including Lexmark, Xerox and Sharp, to help implement better federal printing habits.

But Steve Kempf, the commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA told the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris that much of savings can be realized through changing agency culture.

"There's a lot of behavioral changes that agencies and all the people who work at them can make to drive some savings, even before you buy anything," Kempf said.

In fact, just through simple measures, such as black-and-white and double-sided printing, as well as printing in "more efficient" fonts, the government could save as $330 million if adopted governmentwide, GSA says.

GSA is also conducting a "fleet assessment" of printing devices, Kempf said, to determine how many copiers, printers and other devices agencies actually need.

In its assessment, GSA found some agencies had bloated fleets, with one printer for nearly every employee. He said the more cost-efficient agencies had one printer for as many as eight to 15 employees.

The last step is "pulling the agencies into a real print management environment," he said, through better better acquisition of printing devices. The smarter — or wiser — buying requires agencies to look at the lifecycle costs of buying and managing a device, not just the initial price tag.

But even with more efficient devices, Kempf emphasized the importance of changing behaviors.

"You can buy better solutions all the time, but will the people use them?" he said."And will they use them effectively?"