VA performing judo cuts on printing costs

Eliminating personal printers is one goal, also working on comprehensive printing strategy

The Veterans Affairs Department is looking for savings on printing costs in 2012 as part of its “Ruthless Reductions” agenda, according to Roger Baker, the agency's CIO. The agency issued a Request for Information on Nov. 24 asking for input and advice on how to do that.

According to the text of the RFI, the eventual strategy "will assist in enforcing policy and managing users printing habits in-line with the overall strategy to ensure optimal performance and cost efficiencies. The solution will specifically have the ability to manage the print infrastructure, monitor usage, resolve issues, account for devices, and enhance productivity while reducing our 'global footprint.'"

Just before Thanksgiving, Baker told reporters on a conference call that a key target is eliminating desktop printers in favor of larger centralized printers. He said he believed the majority of desktop printers can be replaced with the centralized printers within five years.

The move away from desktop machines and toward centralized printing has been tested in several pilot projects, and while it is not yet official policy, the department is moving in that direction, Baker said.

The cost savings could be significant, he said.

“We found that, over multiple years, eliminating the majority of desktop printers saves about $1 million per large facility,” Baker said. “That is a significant piece of money saved by moving to large-scale multi-function printers.” The VA operates 54 hospitals and 171 medical centers nationwide.

At the same time, however, Baker cautioned that reducing the number of desktop printers is a “balancing act” and “we do not want to be pennywise and pound foolish.” If a manager can make a strong business case for a desktop printer, the printer will stay, he added.

Baker made the remarks in a conference call on Nov. 23. An audio version of the call was published online by Fierce Government IT.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Fri, Dec 2, 2011 Sam VA

I am appalled that a widely read business publication with supposedly educated reporters would revert to inaccurate teenage slang to grab readers. The ancient art of Judo has nothing to do with any type of cutting and should not be jokingly associated with budgetary cutting. Some writing crosses the in-bad-taste line in and its art should remain on editor’s cutting floor. SLE

Fri, Dec 2, 2011

DAPS can not offer the immidiate needs that VA requires and is not cost effective when compared to GPO/GPOExpress. DAPs and GPO should merge-and save themselves instead of fighting over what is left of a dwindling market. Even so, there is no reason for desktop printers at any agency. All federal agencies should have a shared printing services plan, Im just glad to see a CIO taking it on.

Fri, Dec 2, 2011 Dave K

Well said, Olde Sarge! As for the anonymous comment... DLA Dcoument Services should be eliminated; the days of the government printing office should be over.

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 Olde Sarge DC

Can you say, "Paperless?" Printers should be eleminated altogether. There is no excuse for the wasted costs associated with printing. Every agency should use a content management system for all documents that will enable electronic tagging and global searches. Few things really need printing such as large, complex diagrams (large format plotters). Everything else can be viewed on a screen. Perhaps this will push adoption of tablets and other handheld devices with touch screens and software that actually facilitate hardcopy like reviews (interactive highlighing, editing, etc.).

Thu, Dec 1, 2011

If the VA wants to save on printing and copying costs they should do a D&A and look at what DLA Document Services can do for them.

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