The cost spent on availing services from, Google, is made up by the amount saved from going paperless, according to the information and communications minister DN Dhungyel.

During the question hour of the National Assembly on December 1, Bumdeling Jamkhar MP Dupthop asked the minister on how Google was selected with regard to cost implication, sustainability and security of government information.

He said there are capable service providers in the country, which could provide the same services and providing an opportunity to them could have helped generate employment and curb outflow of money.  “If the government can store the data and information inside the country, it could be much safer.”

The government spends Nu 13 million (M) annually to avail online services from Google. It has been about three years since government agencies started using Google services as a common platform for online services.

Lyonpo DN Dhungyel told the house that Google is a reputed international service provider used by many countries and the security of information provided is high.  “There are 8,590 people using Google services in 82 agencies.”

He said that the ministry carried out a study in 20 dzongkhags and one department under the ministry in 2015.

By going paperless, the minister said that the government saved Nu 5.2M a year on travel expenses of gewog leaders, and Nu 7,840 on reduced use of paper, printer cartridge and photocopy toner at the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) alone.

He said that on an average Nu 1,600 a user is saved in a year which when multiplied by 8,590 users, amounts to more than Nu 13M.

Lyonpo said that using Google is not a loss to the government and availing the service helps in maintaining data security. “The feedback has also been good.”

He said services are availed from Google, as there was no expertise in the country and Google provided security at a reasonable cost. “If there is a person or an agency in the country that can provide the security with reasonable cost, the government is ready to avail the services from them.”

He also said that the ministry has been doing a study on data security every year and that it has been good. “If someone wants to encroach on information, they have to produce a court order as per the agreement with Google.”

Karma Cheki