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.