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Bureau of Engraving and Printing cans printer program

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 1:52 p.m. ET

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has scrapped plans to distribute $75 gift cards to employees that agreed to return their government-owned desktop printers in favor of network printers. The agency has also suspended any efforts to get the printers back, a spokeswoman said.

The agency e-mailed employees about the decision on Tuesday,

"We have suspended any activities related to the printers," spokeswoman Claudia Dickens said, adding later that, "For now, everyone gets to keep their printer."

The Federal Eye first reported on the incentive program earlier this week and the decision to end the program came the same day that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asked agency leadership why they didn't just seize the printers for free.

“The plan for taxpayers to pay for gift cards to reward employees for simply returning office property defied common sense," Issa said in a statement. "I’m thankful there are some grown-ups at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing who stepped up to cancel this outrageous expenditure after it was exposed and officials were put on notice that they would be held accountable.”

Angry employees that contacted The Eye argued that the gift cards would unfairly benefit mostly senior employees who have desktop printers to ensure the safety and privacy of sensitive documents. The cash-strapped agency has offered buyouts to 227 employees as demand for printed money has dropped significantly in the past five years.

Are you a federal employees with concerns about similar programs at your office? E-mail The Eye or leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 2, 2009; 10:34 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Workplace Issues  
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These people are ANGRY that someone else was going to get a $75 gift card, and they're writing to the Washington Post to complain? I want to get down on my knees and thank my lucky stars that I am not a federal employee. What is this, kindergarten?

And our esteemed Members of Congress have nothing better to do than to harass this agency over a program that costs how much -- maybe 10 grand in total -- as our nation crumbles into oblivion. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns...

Posted by: jerkhoff | December 2, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

This just in -- a new government agency is being formed to ensure equitable distribution of government-owned coffee cups across all departments and seniority levels. Rep Darrell Issa issued a statement today congratulating the federal government on this monumental effort to reduce waste and inequity in the system. "Once we've licked this problem, we're moving on to paper clips and pink rubber erasers," Rep. Issa said in a statement today. "Oh, and by the way, my name is Darrell Issa."

Posted by: jerkhoff | December 2, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Those employees were not angry that they weren't getting something that someone else was, they saw this as another example of fraud, waste and abuse and other channels that they explored were either not listening or didn't feel it was worth pursuing. There are some government employees who actually have integrity. Check out the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government and you'll find BEP next to the bottom of the list. Why?

Posted by: LD86 | December 2, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Just because this only involved $40K you think it was a waste of time. You think the people that reported this are cry babies. It's nice to know so many people have $40K to waste, must be nice to be a millionaire.
Personally I want the government to save every penny they can and I'd like to see more government employees would report stuff like this.
Mr. Issa you keep digging, I know you will find a bunch more.

Posted by: colts121968 | December 2, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

LD86, your depiction of these employees' motives is somewhat different than the article, which says, "Angry employees that contacted The Eye argued that the gift cards would unfairly benefit mostly senior employees...", implying that they would be perfectly happy with the program if only they had their slice of the pie. This sounds more like selective integrity to me. So maybe you can understand why this whole episode comes across as just a bit petty to those of us who live outside the beltway...

Posted by: jerkhoff | December 2, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Shut up and give me $75!

Posted by: member5 | December 2, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Dear colts121968: I confess -- you've smoked me out! it turns out that, while I am not a millionaire, I do indeed have my share of this $40K to waste (assuming that this money would have actually been wasted). As a taxpayer, I calculate my share to be approximately 1/100th of a cent. Please let me know where to mail my penny, and you can keep the change.

What I AM worried about is my personal share of the federal deficit, which comes to at least $1000 per year. As some of you may have noticed, President Obama last night announced a force expansion in Afghanistan which will cost each and every taxpayer thousands of dollars. Banks and investment houses have stolen trillions of dollars right out of our pockets. And we're sitting here whining about a bunch of losers who are too busy keeping score to do their jobs.

If there is REAL waste in the BEP, I certainly hope that this blog and Rep. Issa will work tirelessly to uncover it. But this sad little tempest in a teapot doesn't rise to the occasion...

Posted by: jerkhoff | December 2, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

jerkhoff, it sounds like you are a senior management staffer at BEP. I didn't read LD86's comment the way you did, I think they were trying to say that there are government employees that are just as upset about waste in the government as you "outsiders". It also sounded like this person had tried other avenues without success.
I have a feeling that most of the negative comments are coming from BEP management who are trying to figure out how to get out of the mess they have brought on themselves and maybe preparing for more investigations which is exactly what should happen.

Posted by: colts121968 | December 2, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

No, I am not a staffer at BEP, either junior or senior. I live well outside the beltway, where maybe we see things a bit differently than all of you insiders do...

Posted by: jerkhoff | December 3, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

jerkhoff you have no idea how wrong you are, this why the previous writer assumes you are BEP employee.

Posted by: rs1970 | December 6, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Is everyone missing the point? They wanted to pay employees to return goverment issued hardward - the printer's aren't the employees property so why pay them to return what's not theirs? SEIZE THEM!

Posted by: McDade1 | December 9, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

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