Last week President Obama signed an Executive Order limiting government printing and the use of extraneous promotional items or “swag”.
The goal of deficit reduction and a balanced federal budget is a marathon – and the President took one step toward the end of that marathon. If the President, however, is going to stop for a pat-on-the-back and a photo-op after each step in this marathon, we will never make any progress.
I believe the President’s goal of limiting government printing is a good policy, but it doesn’t go far enough. The issue that now needs to be addressed is the amount of unnecessary art and graphics that are included in many federal government documents.
The federal government could save hundreds of millions of dollars each year through a program of removing unnecessary art and graphics that are not substantively relevant and purposeful to the information conveyed in a government document. This savings would be realized by not purchasing the unnecessary art, not engaging in unnecessary graphic design and not paying to print these extra materials.
In one simple move, Congress could write into every law that requires a report to the Congress to comply with a ban on unnecessary graphics and images. As an addition to the work of Congress, the President could also impose a similar ban on documents and publications produced by the administrative branch through an Executive Order.