Digital or cultural challenge?

Google Apps is making the news in Bhutan today. The online office suite was employed to save government resource. Some 4,000 civil servants are taking advantage of it.

How much have we saved so far, that is the question. And how? If our ministers and top officials can now keep track of their day’s schedule, we have not been mindful of our duties and responsibilities so far.

Google Apps or whatever apps did not need to tell us that. What we need is a culture, not an App to make us function as responsible human beings.  Printers may be silent because not many papers go through it in a day, but what happens at the other end of the line and back from there later?

What culture are we really nurturing? What our country needs today is an efficient civil service and equally competent service delivery systems.

It is difficult to ascertain how much the government has saved with Google Apps so far. There is no government data to second the claim. If we have made some savings from this new initiative, we need to know how we achieved it. Good information has power to change people’s mindset.

Google Apps does not come free. That’s another thing. We pay for it. It costs us Nu 9 million every year. We need to know how we are benefiting from it. It behooves our leaders to tell us at least that much, honestly.

Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) tells us that we have saved Nu 119 million by using Google Apps and could have saved Nu 300 million.

How, really, we don’t know. We have no way to know. A strong culture of keeping records is also vitally necessary.

Some government ICT officers say that Google Apps is the real GNH. They now have more free time and less work time. But we still have to pay for quite a lot of heads so that Google Apps actually is working.

Why do our civil servants from gewogs have to come to the dzongkhags headquarters and beyond, in many cases, to just relay an information that could be otherwise done through services like e-mail and telephone calls?

Where are we really saving? And how?

What is really scandalising is that the government has no way to show us how savings were made from the use of Google Apps.

Great things come from great and often simple ideas. It is not the novelty of the idea that people are bothered with but the shroud over it that makes it confusing.

Show us, and we will believe. Give us truth, and we will trust you.

3 replies
  1. MIGNIEN
    MIGNIEN says:

    I quote in this article that “our civil servants have to come to the dzongkkhads headquaters to just relay an information ”
    My opinion is that they do not how to use Google Apps
    Why they do not tell that to their manager ???

    I understand very well the question : where are the savings ?? Only ICT officers can answer . But does they want to answer without discovering some problems of self power ?

  2. MIGNIEN
    MIGNIEN says:

    Since 2004 I translate in french many articles of kuenselevery week , I read and wait comments of IRFAN . always very enriching . But no comments about the ten articles about “a malady called rural urban migration of Yeshey DORJI” wich contains many operational suggestions .
    Thank you IRFRAN for your futur comments !

  3. irfan
    irfan says:

    Paper making probably had its origin in the Han Dynasty and from there; use of paper had changed the way we communicated moving from East to the West through the Silk Route Trade era. Probably we are a lucky generation to notice this transformation from paper-pen to an all digital printer-scanner environment. Benefits of ITC uses are no more a debate between the IT or IT-Enabled professionals and the non-IT guys. Applications like an Office Suite are bound to have its benefits in office administration not only saving time and cost, but also enabling employees with flexible work options. Ease and effectiveness of office administration against efficient operations for service delivery remains a debatable topic though.

    But it took us good enough time to realise that use papers is actually causing a threat to the environment. Uses of ITC are a lot more environment friendly now. But information available to me at the cost a GB of data a year back is not the same today. I need to consume more data at a higher price value of money. What used to be cost once is capital investment now with new IT Infrastructure, but somewhere we should also try to be reasonable in consumption of data. Storage of data for its conservation and protection is another concern. We can still plant a tree, but it’s difficult to grow dust particles into stones and rocks.

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