Credit: Charles Harris
Capt. William B. Finley, the Army Reserve Command’s Deputy Chief Information Management Officer, says the command conducted an in-depth analysis to determine its printing needs.
Fragmented and distributed printing environments, rising printer and toner costs, the need for better document security and a move toward energy efficiency have led the federal government to encourage better printer management for all agencies.
“Effective print management gives an organization control and visibility over what is being printed, along with where and by whom,” says Louella Fernandes, a principal analyst with Quocirca, a technology consultancy. “Intelligent and centralized print management is a vital tool in providing transparency on costs, which helps reduce paper waste, minimize or eliminate unnecessary printing, enhance document security and support sustainability initiatives.”
The Army Reserve Command has seen the benefits of print management firsthand. The Information Management division, based in Fort Bragg, N.C., is responsible for ensuring that dozens of major commands across the country and overseas, plus their many subordinate commands, have the printers and supplies they need to carry out their missions. About two years ago, it became clear that many units simply didn’t have what they needed, while others were stockpiling supplies that could become obsolete.
The command’s first step to address this problem was to take stock of its printing needs and assets. Agencies throughout government that have implemented print management programs — including the Commerce Department, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) — have viewed this as a necessary element.
The Big Picture
“We knew we had to get a better handle on what was going on, so we conducted a gap analysis to understand what was needed,” explains Capt. William B. Finley, the Command’s deputy chief information management officer.
Eventually, the Reserve Command contracted to work with CDW•G, which is now responsible for fulfilling orders for multifunction printers, copiers and supplies such as toner. CDW•G created a “web mall” specifically for the Reserve Command, which allows Reserve units to order supplies quickly.
The Office of Personnel Management surveyed its printing landscape using LANDesk software for network-attached devices and a manual audit for desktop printers.
The Commerce Department did an even deeper dive in 2011, conducting a series of baseline assessments at all of its bureaus to determine how many pages each was printing, how many printers each bureau had and how much of the printing was being done in color or one-sided.
“We found that we were printing about 250 million pieces of paper, the vast majority being single-sided and a lot in color,” says Seth Rogier, the department’s director of strategic sourcing.
Addressing Problem Areas
Armed with that information, the Commerce Department issued a department-wide policy in June 2011 to drastically reduce one-sided printing and the use of color. As a result, double-sided printing has increased to 60 percent from about 10 percent, and black-and-white printing has increased to 90 percent.
Such behavioral changes are key to effective print management, says Joe Jordan, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and leader of the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative.
“All of these things — double-sided printing, reducing the use of color and printing in draft instead of high quality — really add up,” Jordan says. By making the changes permanent through mandates and training, “we can get more people feeling like this is just standard operating procedure,” and save money in the process.
OPM learned from its assessment that many employees had desktop printers — an expensive proposition. When OPM implemented its printer management initiative, it put stringent guidelines on who can have a desktop printer.
Acting CIO Charles Simpson expects to reduce the number of printers in the department by roughly 1,600 and to reap savings of $500,000 to $750,000. Simpson anticipates that standardizing and centralizing on network-attached copiers and printers will allow for bulk rate savings on both.
Find the Right Tools
Intelligent print management tools also can help streamline maintenance and supply ordering, Fernandes says.
Some print management systems include intelligent features, such as rules-based printing, which allows organizations to apply print rules based on criteria such as color, number of pages or double-sided printing. These systems can also direct print jobs to the most cost-efficient print device on the network. Applying these rules saves money and increases efficiency.
Agencies are paying closer attention to security issues surrounding printing. Security personnel have long sought to ensure that only qualified personnel have access to secure documents. They are seeking the same type of security to apply to printing. In military agencies, a key to this security is the Common Access Card (CAC), which is used by all Defense Department employees for identity and security verification.
When reworking its printing plan, the Army Reserve Command was required to ensure that all equipment, including multifunction printers, copiers and scanners, could accommodate the CAC. During the command’s gap analysis, it became clear which hardware could accommodate the CAC and which would need to be replaced with technology that could.
OPM is also considering implementing a process to activate printing with Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards. Not only will this reduce abandoned print jobs, but it will improve efficiency and security, Simpson says.