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On A Quest To Consolidate

January 2002
Kansas Division of Printing

Topeka

The Division of Printing for the State of Kansas is already a large operation—$7.3 million in sales, 83 full-time employees, three satellite locations—but Director Richard Gonzales would love to see it expand.

"We've consolidated [work from in-plants in] the Departments of Health, Revenue and Human Resources, and have assumed a large portion of the work from the Department of Transportation," says Gonzales. "We visited the print shops, researched their jobs and showed them in black and white what it was actually costing them."

Those hard figures helped convince the departments to pool their workloads. For example, the division's newest satellite copy center essentially replaced the internal copy center the Department of Health was operating, says Assistant Director Skip Anderson.

"Now, our copy center covers all of the other agencies located in that building as well, which was the point of that consolidation," he adds.

Despite the efforts of Gonzales and Anderson, in-plants remain active in other state agencies thanks to the twin forces of convenience and tradition.

"A lot of people can't face the fact that they're operating a shop that isn't truly justifiable," says Gonzales. "There's a duplication of equipment and administration. All these people are operating their plants only eight hours a day, while we run 24 hours a day, and our facility is large enough that we can take on work without adding more bodies. The more work we bring in, the better it is for the taxpayer."

Gonzales believes future consolidation is assured. "The State of Kansas...is looking for ways to save money," he says. "It would save the state to somehow combine all these plants." Consolidation would bring other benefits as well.

"There's no uniform cost accounting system in place across the state, so it's very difficult to do any meaningful kind of cost comparison from one in-plant to another," says Anderson.

Kansas statute requires state departments to take bids from the Division of Printing, but they're free to get bids from other vendors, as well. If the outside bid is lower, it's hard for the division to keep the work in-house, even though the true cost may be much higher than promised.

The Division of Printing handles a variety of work, often with amazing turnaround times.

"We provide overnight service on bills introduced into either chamber of the legislature," says Anderson. "When they introduce a bill at four in the afternoon, by eight the next morning they have a printed and bound copy on each legislative desk."
 

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