WASHINGTON — Like the rest of America, the Senate has developed a rapidly growing addiction to telephone facsimiles, or faxes — only worse.
Last year, the Senate faxed more than 2 million pages at taxpayer expense, according to a report this month by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Henry K. Giugni.
That works out to a mountain of 20,000 faxes per senator — most of it press releases touting senators’ accomplishments and appearances.
The habit shows no sign of abating. Last year’s fax count was a 50 percent jump over the year before.
One reason is nearly $1 million worth of state-of-the-art fax computers. Each Senate office now can send duplicate faxes simultaneously to 99 locations.
“The Senate has probably one of the most efficient and well-run telecommunications operations I’ve seen,” says M. Barry Brobst, a Pennsylvania-based account supervisor for 3M Co., which built the fax computers.
The fax explosion seems to be a new mania for the Senate — adding to the better-known habit of generating tons of unsolicited mail at taxpayer expense, rather than replacing it.
Senate telecommunications costs went up nearly 8 percent last year, almost entirely due to a $1.6 million jump in telephone charges. And the Senate telephone service would like to add two employees.