At UN publishing open house, participants hail greater efficiency in printing

At UN publishing open house, participants hail greater efficiency in printing

New four-colour printing press
Scores of diplomats, United Nations officials, staff members and other guests today viewed the world body’s printing facilities up close at an open house which showcased new technology being used to boost output while cutting costs.

“The new four-color press is the latest example of how our Department is taking the lead in optimizing efficiency through excellence in human resources and technological innovation,” said Yohannes Mengesha, Assistant Secretary-General in the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM).

He made his comments as guests toured the basement facility where thousands of UN documents, books and other materials are printed each year, often with a very tight deadline and in the six official languages.

The four-color offset press, which has been running since late last year, has already produced numerous periodicals, such as the UN Police Magazine, in less than half the time it would have taken using the two-colour offset press it replaced.

Yuval Elbaz, an expert in pre-press, explained that with the older model, it took more time because the paper had to be repositioned to run through the press. The new system is much more cost-effective – “and fast,” he said, adding that there was also far less waste of paper.

“The four-color press gives us the capability to work efficiently and to produce high-quality, commercial-grade offset printing,” said Officer-in-Charge William Hamill.

The innovative approach being employed by the Publishing Section comes as part of a broader effort to improve management being led by a special unit of the UN’s Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) set up for this purpose.

“It has been a collaborative effort, and they are doing a great job,” said Paulette Woolf, OIOS Deputy Director of the Internal Management Consulting Services, of her counterparts in DGACM. “The more the message gets out, the more clients will use the in-house printing services” because of their efficiency, she added.

John Donnolly, a management consultant with OIOS who led the project, said the publishing team was “really motivated” to streamline their work.

Officials from the UN’s Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) – a powerful budget watchdog panel – hailed the event as an opportunity to witness resources in action.

“We always see how much it costs [for the UN to print its products] but we never see what is going on here,” said ACABQ Member Collen V. Kelapile, who is more accustomed to reviewing budgets on paper than visiting the services they finance. “With this view,” he added as he walked through the large-scale basement printing operation, “we see that there is a great deal of work being accomplished.”

His colleague on the ACABQ, Susan McLurg, Minister Counsellor of the United States Mission to the UN, echoed this view. “It is interesting to see what the UN is capable of producing in-house,” she said. “It is very impressive.”

Located three levels down at the UN Headquarters in New York, the world body’s printing and distribution specialists work 24 hours each day to ensure that documents, publications and other materials reach all UN clients as quickly as possible. Officials predict that the four-color press will pay for itself within a year.