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Publication study is underway

"If MIT had to reduce its annual overall publications expense by 25 percent, how would you recommend that it be accomplished?"

That is the question put by Senior Vice President William R. Dickson has put to the Publication Services Review Group (PSRG) which has been meeting since last winter.

In all, MIT is spending upwards of $17 million a year on printing costs for publications that range from Reports to the President to departmental newsletters to copies of lecture notes. Publishing across the Institute is so widespread that no one knows what all the publications are.

The PSRG was chartered last November to:

  • Document the current needs and how well they are being met.
  • Determine if there are ways in which we are now doing business that should change, be augmented or reduced.
  • Look at vendoring vs. in-house design and production.
  • Consider what additional services might be available on campus to support cost-effective planning and purchasing of design, typesetting and printing services.
  • Evaluate whether potential exists for locating functionally related services adjacent to each other.
  • Identify potential long-range planning issues.

Members of the group are: Katherine R. Cochrane of the Alumni Association; Barrie B. Gleason, Celia W. Metcalf, Joanne Miller and Kathryn A. Willmore of Public Relations Services; Carla P. Lane of Resource Development; Gary R. Panaro of Information Systems; Albert K. Paone and Janet Snover of Graphic Arts; Barbara J. Passero of the Research Laboratory of Electronics; Susan Shansky-Roberts of the Industrial Liaison Program, and Thomas L. Wilding of the Libraries. Stephen D. Immerman, director of special services in the Office of the Senior Vice President, is heading up the project with the assistance of John R. Squillante. Marilyn A. McMillan of Information Systems joined the group as a facilitator during a TQM exercise.

Problems identified using TQM techniques included the following:

  • A lack of central information about publishing services and procedures leads to redundancy, mistakes and waste.
  • There is no systematic process for evaluating publications at MIT for need, effectiveness or customer feedback.
  • Computing technology has not been uniformly applied to publication production and distribution.
  • A lack of coordination in purchasing publications services and supplies raises the overall costs to MIT.
  • MIT customers perceive outside vendors as providing higher quality, lower cost and a wider range of services than internal providers.

Early this fall, PSRG plans to hold a focus-group session to explain its work to a wider audience of print users at MIT and to hear suggestions they may have for helping to reduce the Institute's printing costs.

A version of this article appeared in the August 4, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 2).

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