Paper jams at Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Angry employees at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing say the cash-strapped agency is giving taxpayer money to government employees to return government printers.
At least 534 mostly senior bureau employees have individual printers to ensure that sensitive documents -- related mostly to personnel issues -- don't end up in the wrong hands. But now the agency wants them back and plans to give employees a $75 gift card to turn them over. Employees that surrender their printers will instead use network printers -- all in an effort to cut paper, ink and electricity costs.
"Personal printers in BEP cost significantly more to use, operate and maintain than network printers," said to a flyer distributed at the bureau's offices in Washington and Fort Worth, Texas. The flyer, designed like an old-school Western "Wanted" poster, includes the image of a cowboy with a lasso riding a horse chasing after a printer (see the flyer after the jump).
"For a limited time, to incentivize you to voluntarily give up your active personal printer, BEP will share the savings with you," the flyer said. "You will receive a gift card in the amount of $75 if you turn in an active personal printer."
The gift cards will "reward employees who voluntarily agree to use a network printer that would admittedly take additional personal effort, as it would be less convenient and more time consuming to print a document at a network printer than using a printer at their desk," bureau spokeswoman Claudia Dickens said in an e-mail. (What?! They can't just walk down the hall to retrieve their documents? Hmm...)
"Rather than take printers from employees, or questioning each employee on whether they could justify keeping their printer, an employee suggested that we provide an incentive," Dickens said. The bureau cannot just seize all of the personal printers because it does not have network printers that are convenient to all employees. Gift cards will be distributed after the program ends on Dec. 31.
"If you want to save the money, you don't give someone the money to get something back that belongs to the government anyway," said one employee who contacted The Eye about the incentive program. The gift cards unfairly benefit senior officials, the employee said, since most rank-and-file workers don't have the luxury of a personal desktop printer.
Several career employees are also concerned about the bureau's new multi-million dollar computer inventory system and about plans to offer buyouts to 227 workers.
The staff cuts are necessary as yearly orders for printed money have dropped by 2 billion notes in recent years, Dickens said. Demand will continue to slide as Americans opt for credit cards and online bill payment over cold hard cash.
Employees that contacted The Eye suggested there's much more at stake and promise to share more details in the future. Stay tuned.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
The flyer distributed to Bureau of Engraving and Printing employees in Washington and Forth Worth:
| November 30, 2009; 11:43 AM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments, Workplace Issues
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