Should the Government Go Paperless?
Filed Under: Opinion, US | Posted: 11/21/2012 at 8:40AM
Comments | Region: United States
There are a lot of pertinent issues about the upcoming elections being covered by journalists right now – healthcare, public welfare, taxes, and international diplomacy. Amidst the chaos of seemingly more pressing issues, topics like environmental sustainability and green jobs have suddenly gone out the window. That said, they’re likely to make a return – and when they do, the issue of whether or not the US government should go paperless will also likely resurface.
Offices around the world are converting to virtual filing cabinets, trading in massive storage rooms chocked full of hard copy information for 21st century document management software. And there are a lot of benefits. But what about our heads of state and the other big guys headquartered down in Washington? Does a paperless world make sense for them (and us) too?
We think it does, and environmental stability is only one of the reasons why.
Security: Even in a world replete with computer savvy hackers, documents are far more secure in on online environment than they are under the lock and key of a traditional filing cabinet. Documents that are handled through electronic document management software can be carefully tracked, monitored, and secured, meaning that they’re exponentially safer than a traditional paper document. If someone reads a paper that’s kept in a manila envelope, they can simply put it back and no one will ever know. Not so in a paperless world.
Efficiency: Everyone despises how slow and mundane government document processing is. Luckily, they have started to switch over some of their old processes – now we can change our license address online and file our taxes electronically. And look at how happy it’s made many of us! Just imagine how much more quickly and effectively the world would move if all of our government interactions could be facilitated from the convenience of any wi-fi enabled device.
Cost-Effective: With the simple expenditures needed to acquire software and a scanner, government agencies could convert their information storage warehouses to virtual filing cabinets that take up only a tiny fraction of the space. What’s more, the level of efficiency granted by creating, filling out, and tracking electronic documents would allow government employees to focus their efforts on other, more pressing issues, rather than tedious humdrum tasks.
With advantages that can then be further supplemented with incredible environmental savings – like reducing the existing one-third of municipal waste that is paper-based – it seems wrong for the government not to embrace more paperless processes at a rapid rate. We could all benefit from a reduced government budget and less harried, more friendly government representatives!
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