The Office of Management and Budget announced with much fanfare yesterday that the Reagan administration had eliminated 1,998 government publications, for a savings of $36 million. OMB Deputy Director Joseph R. Wright acknowledged, however, that 1,100 were created at the same time.
Wright didn't have figures on the cost of the new publications, but he said the trend toward more publications has been curbed. "Almost half of all publications we now have were started in the four years before we took office," Wright said.
Getting rid of unnecessary publications and audiovisual materials has been one of OMB's primary management goals. The agency had expected to save $103 million by now, but the effort fell slightly short of the mark. OMB figures the program saved $94 million, but Wright said that figure includes the Pentagon's estimate of personnel savings, something other agencies weren't allowed to include. Savings in publications alone accounted for $21 million in fiscal 1982 and $15 million in fiscal 1981, OMB said.
The publications, copies of which were in a wastebasket at Wright's side, included an annual trade report from the Commerce Department on "brassieres, girdles and allied garments," a Defense Department publication called "A Tour Of Trees At Ft. Leavenworth" and an Agriculture Department guide called "Buying a Christmas Tree."
"I can't believe there is anyone older than five or six who doesn't know how to buy a Christmas tree," Wright said, "and if there is, I don't think the federal government should tell them."
Wright said the publications weeded out by OMB totaled 820 million copies. However, OMB could not say how many one-time publications were included in that number. Only a small portion of the scrapped publications were periodicals. Many were handbooks, informational pamphlets and the like that are reprinted only if demand outstrips supply.