Lay off the copying machines, copying machines, copying machines.

Folks at DHUD (governmentese for Department of Housing and Urban Development) are chuckling over a memo from on high. It admonishes them to stop wasting taxpayers' money by photocopying so much stuff.

"The department's photocopying costs have been escalating at an alarming rate," the official note noted. "This can be attributed in part to the fact that some of DHUD's photocopying equipment is being used improperly," it continued.

To save time, money and photocopying costs, the memo advised officials in the future to consider contracting out big jobs to private printers.

To make sure people got the word, DHUD types photocopied, and photocopied, and photocopied quantities of the memo advising people not to do so much photocopying!

Speaking of photocopying machines, they are humming at the General Services Administration where folks are very, very unhappy about upcoming layoffs and furloughs. Somebody--or bodies--has reproduced hundreds of copies of an unsigned letter which says that GSA, the government's housekeeping agency, could avoid RIFs and furloughs if it saved money in other ways.

GSA, like many other federal agencies, was hit with a 16 percent budget cut by Congress last December. Most agencies have appealed those cuts and some of them expect relief that will minimize the number of people they must fire or furlough. But GSA and the Office of Personnel Management did not appeal their cuts--and this has infuriated workers who face what they consider are unnecessary layoffs or pay cuts.

Several dozen copies of the underground GSA letter have been sent to this column, many more to other newspapers and radio and TV stations. Now they are turning up in the offices of politicians, federal officials and press types in New York and Philadelphia. Maybe DHUD should photocopy a copy of its no-photocopy memo and zip it over to GSA.