Tasked with examining the potential to outsource the city's print shop, Procurement Director Geri Sams returned with a different proposal: Keep the services in-house, and upgrade software and salaries to bring other, currently outsourced, work back in.
Sams was one of five department heads to present outsourcing proposals at an Augusta Commission workshop Friday.
"Unfortunately for the print shop, we are a service department," Sams said. "But even in that, we are going to do everything humanly possible to ensure excellent services while looking at ways to save monies in our budget."
Printing some 1.5 million bills, notices and other documents annually, the shop has been under Procurement since 2008, and got off to a cost-saving start by automating the system by which departments ordered print jobs, Sams said. The shop also saved the city $800,000 when it revamped the city's copier service contract and began bidding out orders for toner cartridges, she said.
Sams suggested eliminating an outsourced "lockbox" service, used to hold overnight utilities payments, that her department pays $54,000 annually, and adding back as much outsourced print work that the office can presently do in the space it shares with Augusta's Information Technology department.
But commissioners questioned the numbers Sams, also in charge of bidding out million-dollar city contracts, presented comparing the cost to print a color copy. The city can print a color copy for 3 cents, while other providers Sams listed on a chart charged 29, 55 and 69 cents.
"I don't think that's the actual cost" to the city, Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said after the meeting. "Labor, as well as overhead – that would get you the true cost per print."
Questioned during the workshop, Sams said the cost would be lower even with labor added in.
"I could make that adjustment to you, but I will assure you, it's much cheaper than you can buy," she said, also recommending included $10,072 in salary increases and $7,000 in technology upgrades.
Sams also provided commissioners with the results of an e-mail survey about government print shops. Respondents from Muscogee, Gwinnett, Dougherty, Effingham and Glynn County schools, the City of Waycross and Georgia Public Safety Training Center said their print work was nearly all done in-house.
Effingham and the training center even made revenue by doing print jobs for private companies, while Bibb County Schools outsourced its printing.
While five commissioners who attended the workshop got an education about various outsourcing initiatives under way, or not, in city departments, the city will return to the issue of outsourcing procurement entirely. Administrator Fred Russell said a separate workshop would be held on that proposal.
The department has been sued repeatedly over the fairness of its award of construction bids. A report issued Friday by the city law department put the annual cost of delays from a court order enjoining its award of a construction manager at-risk bid to remodel Augusta Municipal Building at $1.68 million.
The amount includes $104,000 in additional rent payments and $1.57 million in increased construction costs and fees.