Guest blog post by Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank 
Earth Day is here, and Commerce is seeing the positive results of its year-long campaign to “go green” and drive down costs in print. Just this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  (NOAA), Commerce’s largest bureau, announced it has removed over one-third of its desktop printers, bringing total savings from the Commerce print project to $4.7 million per year.
Commerce spends $25 million annually on print–which includes equipment, paper, toner, energy and services. Last year we took a look at where that money was going and found that:
- Commerce printed 250 million pages on its networked printers.
- Nearly all of those pages were printed single-sided, and a quarter were printed in color.
- We also had a high ratio of employees-to-desktop printers, which use more toner and are more expensive than shared printers.
- And we realized we had 350 contracts and 400 vendors, with very little centralized ordering.
Since March 2010, we’ve been moving forward on three strategies to improve print management and behavior across the Department.
The first effort is changing how we print. Since last March, we have been able to increase our double-sided printing from 11 percent to 53 percent, our black and white printing from 75 percent to 88 percent, and decrease the number of pages printed by 27 percent. We’ve saved 3,489 trees through this effort alone.
We’ve also moved into the second phase of our print management efforts by setting a Department-wide target to reduce the number of desktop printers by 50 percent, which will further reduce our costs by $500,000 annually. To date, seven bureaus have reached their target, and the rest are on their way, for a total reduction of 4,760 printers, or 57 percent of those desktop printers that could possibly be eliminated. Exceptions were made for a select group of employees, including those in isolated locations or those who print sensitive information.
The third and final phase of our print management intiative is to standardize printer requirements and to use the purchasing power of the entire Department to procure future print devices in a more inexpensive manner. We are utilizing the new government-wide print contract offered by the General Services Administration (GSA). Based upon a pilot conducted, the Census Bureau  is projected to save between 30-40 percent on the acquisition of multi-function print devices by leveraging the government-wide contract. Through the implementation of a common approach to print management acquisition, we have not only realized savings from lower prices, but we are eliminating costs from the duplication of effort that comes from having hundreds of print contracts and vendors.
In total, when all three phases are complete, we will have reduced our printing costs by nearly 20 percent.
Rethinking the way we print at the Commerce Department is one way that we are trying to go green. It’s one way to ensure that we are being good stewards of taxpayer dollars, while reducing our impact on the environment.