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Bloated Gov't? Lawmakers Question Why Wash. State Has its Own 'Department of Printing

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"You know that the private sector can take care of printing..."

Might Washington state's "Department of Printing" be an example of bloated government?

Some state official thinks so, and they're questioning the need for a special agency and 100 state employees who cater to the state's private printing needs -- especially as the state faces an emergency budget session to reduce a $1.1 billion deficit.

KING-TV reports:

Little known to most residents, the state of Washington has its own printer with a large facility in Tumwater. And some lawmakers aren't sure why.

"Do we need a department of printing, or a division of printing in the state of Washington? I don't think we do," said Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia.

The idea of a centralized print shop dates back to 1933 and today, the state printer has about 100 employees. When the governor prints her budget, or when agencies print everything from pamphlets to applications, they pay the state printer to do the work.

But on KING 5 News Up Front, state auditor Brian Sonntag said, it's time to reconsider. "Certainly that's one of those kinds of functions that I think the state could privatize easily, the state printer already contracts out for substantial part of that printing work," Sonntag saiod.

With all state agencies having their own copiers and laser printers, and more of them publishing online, does the state still need a print shop? [...]

"If anybody has ever heard of Fed Ex or Kinkos you know that the private sector can take care of printing," said Amber Gunn, with the Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

While the department's Google excerpt says it is an "entirely self-supporting agency," a recent auditor's report uncovered by KING-TVfound the printer is losing about $120,000 a month. Still, no studies have been done to show how much money could be saved by utilizing private printers.

The department's website says the agency was mandated by law in 1854. It currently provides "all printing and binding for the legislature, the state, and its various agencies, boards and commissions," but can also "enter into agreements to perform printing and related services for other government."

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