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Eye Opener: GOP probes Bureau's printer program

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Tuesday! A top Republican lawmaker wants to know why the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is giving $75 gift cards to employees that turn over their government-owned individual office printers.

As The Eye first reported on Monday, the bureau wants employees with individual printers to switch to office-wide network printers in order to save on paper, ink and electricity costs. The incentive program is open to the 534 mostly senior bureau employees that have printers at their desk.

Angry employees that contacted The Eye about the incentive program say it unfairly benefits some workers while the cash-strapped offers buyouts to 227 other employees.

"If true, your initiative may go down in history as one of the all time senseless uses of taxpayer dollars," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote in a letter sent Monday to bureau director Larry Felix.

"I am going to need your assistance in helping me understand why your agency needs to spend in excess of $40,000 to recover its own property," Issa wrote, calculating the total cost if all 534 employees opt in to the incentive program.

Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (and the wealthiest member of Congress), wants answers by Dec. 15. The bureau plans to reward the gift cards once the program ends on Dec. 31.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Notice anything different?: Per the suggestion of some readers, the news articles listed after the jump are sorted by government agency, in an effort to better direct you to headlines of interest. Like what you see? Think it should be done differently? Let The Eye know what you think.

More Obama Nominees Announced: The president on Monday tapped Ian C. Kelly to serve as ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Allan J. Katz to serve as ambassador to Portugal; Bisa Williams to serve as ambassador to Niger; Raul H. Yzaguirre Sr. to serve as ambassador to the Dominican Republic; and Patrick K. Nakamura to serve as a member of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. Track all of Obama's nominees with The Post's Head Count.

Cabinet and Staff News: Did an aide to Defense Secretary Robert Gates trade e-mails with the state dinner gate-crashing couple? Secretaries Hillary Rodham Clinton and Kathleen Sebelius review the administration's AIDS policy. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Arturo Valenzuela says the Honduran election was fair and transparent.


Early retirements available At USDA: The department has received OPM approval to offer buyouts to a maximum of 100 employees affected by a recent management restructuring.


Old buildings, dwindling rents: GSA faces financial crisis: The agency does not collect enough rent from agencies to cover costly repairs for an ever-aging inventory of more than 1,500 federally owned buildings.


Is a lawsuit finally forcing transparency at the Department of Labor?: After stonewalling several attempts at transparency, a lawsuit and a some much-deserved public shaming may be spurring the department to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests.


NTSB plans probe of latest D.C. Metro crash: The agency will launch a formal investigation of Sunday's crash, in which a six-car train smashed into a parked six-car train at a Northern Virginia rail yard.


NRC inks new contract, includes improved worker benefits: An agency widely considered "one of the best places to work in the federal government" has negotiated a new contract with its biggest labor union including significant new scheduling flexibilities for almost all its workers.


Live chat on White House security breach: Ronald Kessler, author of "In the President's Secret Service," hosts a live chat today at 11 a.m. ET about last week's White House security breach.

White House breach raises questions about pay and oversight: Gatecrash-gate prompts questions about whether the agency needs more staff.

Could mobile technology have stopped state dinner security breach?: Some government technology specialists say improved networking of mobile devices could help prevent such security gaffes.


Administration to shame lenders that don't offer to modify mortgages: The government would provide cash incentives to mortgage servicers that reduced monthly payments for distressed homeowners, and that way those who were facing higher payments or lower incomes could stay in their homes.


VA makes progress in sharing health records: The department and Kaiser Permanente launch a pilot program to exchange electronic health record information using the Nationwide Health Information Network, which was created by the Department of Health and Human Services.


Job seekers continue to value face-to-face interaction: The Office of Personnel Management and Partnership for Public Service have teamed up on a program that brings federal career days to college campuses.

Overseas voting act could serve as model for future election reforms: The law's enactment is an object lesson in how framing an issue along non-ideological lines can transcend partisan splits so lawmakers actually get something done.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | December 1, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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This is what the Republicans should be doing. Tracking printing scandals, who does or does not pay their lunch tabs at the Capitol dining room, counting the number of paper clips used, etc. What they should never be permitted to do is lead the government. They don't understand government, don't trust it, and therefore hate it and when they are in power screw it up.

Posted by: explorers100 | December 1, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

This is what the Republicans should be doing. Tracking printing scandals, who does or does not pay their lunch tabs at the Capitol dining room, counting the number of paper clips used, etc. What they should never be permitted to do is lead the government. They don't understand government, don't trust it, and therefore hate it and when they are in power screw it up.

Posted by: explorers100 | December 1, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Darrell Issa should be doing something useful. Like trying to oppose health care. Or opposing the war he voted for. Or voting for term limits for people with three sets of double letters.

Posted by: bs2004 | December 1, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

for $75, they can buy 3 injets and put them all on their desks...

I dont even bother buying replacement ink anymore... They are so cheap, printers are a disposable resource now...

Posted by: ProveMeWrong | December 1, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Issa saved the taxpayers $40,000. The roundup was cancelled. Guess they don't need to respond to Issa now? What other senseless uses of taxpayer money might they be hiding?

Posted by: LD86 | December 1, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

First I want to say just how disappointed I am most of the people that commented previously. I can't believe how little they care about anything but themselves. They complain about the national debit but when someone tries to do something about wasted money they think it isn't worth it because we are only talking about $40k. I wish I had as much money as they obviously have.
As for what Mr. Issa was able to do I applaud him for caring enough to do something about this "small" amount. Even though the printer program has been canceled I still feel the BEP director should have to explain BEP's actions; who thought of this stupid project and who approved it. I agree with the previous comment and believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. If BEP was willing to pay employees for government equipment what other money are they wasting. I re-read Mr. O'Keefe's article from yesterday and all the comments. If you noticed there were several references to a multi-million dollar NEW system, large credit card bills, reduced production and 227 people they are trying to force out.
It sounds to me that there is a lot more money being wasted then $40K.
So Mr. Issa I think you need to continue digging, something smells very bad.

Posted by: colts121968 | December 1, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

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