One of my monthly tasks is printing a mainframe report (that's right, mainframe...) that consists of 2500 or so sheets of paper. I merely give the order to print and baby sit the printer; I neither create the report nor do I use it. However, I have done some tracking and I know for a fact that only half of that gets used (looked at) and the other half goes straight into the trash.

The remaining half is sectioned off and distributed to the people who are interested in the information. Perhaps it is an itemized list, the only token of relevance, a total at the bottom. I'd say less than a tenth of the original report is actually filed and the rest ends up in the trash. What a wonderful paperless society we've created for ourselves.

This is only an example of one report in one office. I did some conservative calculations and found my 6000 co-workers and I use around five million sheets of paper every month. Even if half of these sheets were actually needed, we are still wasting 30 million sheets of paper every year or in bean counting terms $130,000. (I went to the supply office and asked about our paper consumption and how much a box, 5000 sheets of 20 lb. paper, costs. Of course, I lied about why I wanted the information).

Back to this mainframe report; it is something I was assigned when I first started here and have not been unable to shuck the reasonability on to anyone else. The mainframe is kept up even after is utter obsolescence because of laziness for all I can gather. Reports like this one and several other mission critical reports are all done on the mainframe because that's how it was set up 20 years ago. No one has bothered to move these tasks to more reliable and modern systems. However, no one knows how to program them anymore. There are a few people who are clever enough to make new reports from old report (copy/paste code) but I've been told that there is no way to break this 2500 page report into manageable sections before it goes to the printer.

My actual job, when I'm not printing out mainframe reports, is web development. So I know how easy (relatively) it would be to reinvent these mainframe systems and put them on a web page. "Oh, but that's so expensive, do you know what web developers make now-a-days?" It's nothing compared to the millions we hand Microsoft every year. Or the brand new web server we just got. The sad thing is, there is actually a RIF about to happen. I'm not going to be affected by it, but lots of people will lose there jobs, because there isn't the money to pay them...