To Save Money, the State Is Eliminating Personal Printers

ALBANY—Printers must be shared.

That’s the message from state cost-czars seeking to trim $500 million from the spending of state agencies without laying off workers, a chop ordered by David Paterson a month ago.

A reader who works in a state agency told me that the Office of Taxpayer Accountability, created by Paterson in June, issued a directive asking agencies to come up with ways to reduce printing costs. The response as been to remove printers from personal work stations in favor of network printers.

Matt Anderson, a spokesman for the Budget Division, said that “except under compelling circumstances,” agencies are to implement double-sided printing, “eliminate personal printers, except in those cases where an accommodation must be made for a person with a disability,” “replace multiple individual printers in adjacent offices with standardized, centralized networked copiers with lower power consumption and per page costs” and just generally print less–including forms, newsletters and presentations.

“We’re sharing printers,” Anderson told me about his own office. “Additionally, we’ve switched to mandated double-sided printed on documents. You use half as much paper and half as much toner.”

Groused the reader who sent this tip: “So when I print my evaluations, I’m supposed to do it at the communal printer? I don’t know if surplusing printers is really going to save the state money.”

No firm cost savings estimate was available, but Anderson said “at a time when we’re facing record deficits and making tough decisions about cutting funds to school districts, health care providers, and local governments, we also want to demonstrate that we are cleaning our own cupboard when it comes to the day-to-day operations of state government.”

Another memo on the Taxpayer Accountability web site–issued without fanfare on Nov. 2 by Valerie Grey, the director of state operations– calls on workers to place computers and printers in an auto-hibernate mode to save energy. The memo projects as much as $25 to $30 per work station, per year.

It also contains this directive: “Remove third-party screensaver applications (such as Webshots), which have the ability to prevent computers from entering energy-saving modes.”