The June 16, 2005 minutes of the Legislative Council are available. Probably only of interest to . . . well, me. One part I found of particular interest had to do with the move to have the Legislative Services Agency print the bills in-house. Prior to that move, the printing had been outsourced and was done for a fairly steep price. The high price (something like $0.092 per page) was compounded by the huge volume of printing done in the legislative process. There was some pressure to keep the printing in the hands of the particular vendor. Ostensibly the concern was that LSA couldn’t keep the error rate as low as the outside vendor. However, there were rumors that the vendor was very well connected politically. And, the low error rate the vendor was able to provide was almost entirely due to the quality of the product sent from LSA over to the vendor. (At this point, I must disclose a screamingly pro-LSA bias on the part of your author.)
Anyway, I played a small part in moving the printing in-house. But, the credit belongs to those long-time employees of the Office of Code Revision in the Legislative Services Agency. According to the minutes:
VII. Five year report on LSA’s in-house printing program.
Mr. Sachtleben explained the three goals of the program:
(1) To maintain or improve on the quality of the products;
(2) to maintain or improve on the quality of the products without asking the House and Senate to change their proceedings; and
(3) To have significant savings.
Mr. Sachtleben then proceeded to explain how the goals had been met. First, the error rate of the products had been reduced to one-sixth of what it had been when going through an outside source, and the appearance of the product was as good as it had been in the past. Second, the error rate was reduced and the appearance was maintained without asking the House or Senate to change any of their procedures. Third, the in-house printing program has permitted a two-thirds reduction in printing appropriations.
Once again, of interest only to me perhaps, is the history of the in-house printing project. Fortunately, LSA keeps archives of the Legislative Council minutes. At the June 8, 1998 meeting, we find the following discussion:
IN-HOUSE COMPOSITION OF LEGISLATIVE BILLS: DISCUSSION ITEM
The Chairman asked Mr. Sachtleben to summarize the present printing contract and procedures used for legislative bills. Mr. Sachtleben noted that for many years the Legislative Council had contracted with a private printer to compose and photocopy the bills. The cost of that contract is about $.095 per page. Mr. Sachtleben reported that the LSA has for several years used private and public photocopying firms to mass duplicate legislative bills at a cost of $0.02 per page. Accordingly, the “composition” aspect of the private printing contract costs about $0.07 per page. Mr. Sachtleben said that he was bringing this matter to the attention of the Council in order to permit an evaluation of whether the composition of legislative bills could and/or should be done in-house. Mr. Sachtleben discussed the cost estimates and projected savings that such a move might entail, and noted the training, space, and logistical problems that would need to be addressed if any changes were made.
. . .
Senator Harrison asked whether the merging of amendments and committee reports would be part of the in-house duties. In reply to this question, and another from Senator Miller, Mr. Sachtleben discussed a computer program that was developed for the LSA this year that automatically merges about 80% of the commands used in amendments and committee reports. Senator Harrison asked about the timing of the proofreading of bills. Mr. Sachtleben explained that under the current system the bills are proofread after they have been distributed onto members’ desks.
Senator Harrison then asked whether a private photocopying company could be found that could perform under the late evening and tight deadline schedule dictated by the House and Senate processes. Carolyn Tinkle, Principal Secretary of the Senate, answered that the state print shop and private companies should be able to perform under a contract up to the specifications of the General Assembly.
In response to Senator Harrison’s question, Mr. Sachtleben noted that additional space would be needed if the bills were to be composed in-house.
At the August 4, 1998 meeting we again see Sen. Harrison leading the skeptics:
DISCUSSION OF PRINTING OF LEGISLATIVE BILLS
The Chairman announced that the agenda item concerning the printing of legislative bills would be postponed until the September meeting of the Council. A discussion followed concerning various aspects of Senator Harrisonâ€™s question as to whether to renew the Graphics contract pursuant to an offer letter that had been received from the vendor in May. This offer (to extend the original three year contract by one year) must be acted upon by October 31, 1998. A discussion was held concerning the legal relationship between the vendor and the Council, including the impact of the vendorâ€™s taking of certain action in anticipation of the Councilâ€™s extension of the printing contract.
Senator Garton said that he did not see any legal obligation, but felt that at this time the Senate staff has some concerns that should be discussed. He also stated that while he anticipates the eventual transition to in-house composition, it would be his preference to make the change during a short session of the General Assembly.
At the September 21, 1998 meeting, Representative Kruzan (now the honorable mayor of Bloomington) reported a compromise that weaned the private vendor off of the printing contract:
REPORT OF THE DATA PROCESSING SUBCOMMITTEE CONCERNING INHOUSE COMPOSITION OF BILLS
The Chairman called upon Representative Kruzan to report on the two meetings and the recomendation of the Subcommittee (Proposed LCR 98-11A). Representative Kruzan stated that the Subcommittee had agreed that a transition from the private printer to the LSA was necessary. Under LCR 98-11A, Graphics, Ltd. would continue to print all legislative bills except for the “reprints” (which would be composed by the LSA and mass duplicated under a private contract). In addition, Graphics would agree to stand ready to print the reprinted bills if the LSA was unable to do so.
The issue was put to rest (as far as the Legislative Council’s involvement) until 1999. At the July 22, 1999 Council meeting, we see Sen. Harrison continuing to be the skeptic:
The Chairman called on Senator Harrison to report on the activities of the Legislative Council’s Data Processing Subcommittee which had met prior to the full Council meeting. Senator Harrison reviewed the Council’s decision last year to establish a pilot program under which the LSA would print all “reprinted” bills (i.e. the printing on yellow paper that occurs whenever a bill is amended on the floor of the House or Senate). Senator Harrison discussed the problems that were encountered during the pilot program and noted that the question before the subcommittee was whether the pilot program should be continued, expanded (to other printings), or terminated. He reported that by a 3-1 vote the Subcommittee had recommended to the full Council that the LSA be given responsibility to print all bills beginning with the 2000 session.
Representative Linder, a member of the Subcommittee, stated that he thought the pilot program had gone well even though it encountered some problems. He felt that the short session would be a good time to switch to complete in-house printing and made a motion to that effect. The motion was seconded by Representative Kruzan. The motion was adopted by consent.
No indication from the minutes who the “nay” vote was on the Data Processing Subcommittee, but I have my suspicion.
The May 25, 2000 minutes indicate:
Mr. Sachtleben discussed the contents of a memo that had been distributed to the members of the Council concerning the $169,539 cost savings that had resulted from inhouse printing this past session and estimates for savings to be expected during the next three legislative sessions. In response to Senator Harrisonâ€™s question, Mr. Sachtleben noted that the â€œsalaryâ€ cost figure included the cost of the LSA in-house printers during the session, and the cost of all of the contractors (including overtime paid to LSA employees) for the photocopying of the bills.
Representatives Linder and Kruzan noted that the House was very pleased with the printing this past session and that the error rate was extremely low.
The June 27, 2001 minutes indicate a $300,000 savings from inhouse printing for the previous year. In 2002, LSA apparently got tired of bragging on itself because I don’t see any indication of savings for that year.
But, assuming the 2000 and 2001 numbers were representative, it seems safe to say that LSA’s “insourcing” of legislative printing operations has easily saved the State of Indiana over $1 million. Good thing the naysayers were unsuccessful in maintaining the status quo.
[…] But the zeal of the Daniels administration for privatization is an article of faith, not to be shaken by evidence that the private sector is, at times, less efficient than government. So, I expect this privatization to proceed, no matter how many layers of window dressing committee review Governor Daniels puts between here and the inevitable and regardless of whether the private company will be less effective at accurately determining who is entitled to benefits and who is not. This entry is filed under Indiana Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Leave a Reply […]
[…] Daniel Warrick of the AFSCME says that Governor Daniels refused to provide a cost-benefit analysis when the state “privatized the Division of Family Resources.” If no such analysis was done, that’s troubling because it cannot at all be taken as an article of faith that the private sector will perform a function more cheaply than the public sector. The General Assembly need not look further than the printing of its own bills for proof of this. It cost substantially more money to have a private entity print the bills than it cost the General Assembly to have the Legislative Services Agency do it. […]
[…] Privatizing not always more cost effective By Doug I was glad to see a small entry in the Indy Star that shows a recognition that private entities do not always perform a function more cost effectively than the government. The example cited is the General Assembly’s decision to perform printing functions in-house rather than continuing to outsource the function. I’ve been citing that one for quite some time now. That cite has a run down of what I was able to find in the minutes of the Legislative Council. From those minutes, it looked like the move in-house was saving about $300,000 per year. The Star report indicates a savings of about $1.1 to $1.5 million for a three year period. […]
[…] Daniels to privatize printing By Doug Gov. Daniels is moving in the opposite direction from the Indiana General Assembly with respect to government printing operations. About 8 years ago, the General Assembly decided to move from private printing to in-house printing and experienced a significant savings of taxpayer dollars. As a result, they were able to cut printing appropriations by about 2/3 and save the taxpayers something like $400,000 per year. […]
[…] the past, I’ve shared my own experience with bringing printing of bills for the General Assembly in-house — it resulted in some […]
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