Some gov’t agencies slow to adopt Google Apps

Adoption rates are usually determined by the type of management an agency has

ICT: Five months after renewing its subscription to Google Apps, the majority of civil servants using the online office suite are doing so only for email correspondence and not utilizing its various other tools.

So far, a total of 6,895 Google accounts have been activated. The government is paying Google Apps for 9,000 accounts for three years. The total cost of the subscription has not been revealed.

For its initial one-year subscription, the government paid a discounted rate of Nu 158 or USD 2.5 per account a month. The normal cost is actually around Nu 260 or USD 4.2 per account a month.

“Almost all users are using email quite actively but the usage of the productivity tools, such as google docs, calendar, etc., is still taking time to pick up,” said Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) ICT officer, Tshewang Chojay.

Besides Gmail, there are at least seven other apps including Calendar, Contacts, Chat, Documents, Drive, Sites, and Groups.

The apps provide a range of other uses like for instance, Google Documents provides a word processor, a spreadsheet, and a presentation program allowing users to create and edit documents online, collaboratively and in real-time. An example would be creating a minutes of a meeting and then sharing with those who attended for necessary edits and action.

Google Calendar is a time-management and organization tool which can record, for instance, a minister’s schedule, which then can also be shared in real-time with other officials.

Information and communications secretary, Dasho Kinley Dorji said he is not surprised that full use of Google Apps tools is slow. The secretary said that this is because it requires dealing with mind-sets.

But he also said that Google Apps is a sophisticated system so the government cannot expect people to change overnight.

Dasho Kinley Dorji added that in those agencies that have been using Google Apps, there has been improvements in efficiency and paper usage has gone down.

“There are some agencies, that are power-users such as the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), the Department of Geology and Mines, the Cabinet Secretariat, Gross National Happiness Commission, etc., where we believe the management has played a critical role in encouraging its use to enhance productivity,” Tshewang Chojay said.

Agencies that encourage or require that the various Google tools are used collaboratively are considered power users.

“We are working with the ICT officers to promote effective use within the agencies but we may need more support from agencies like RCSC to help promote its use across the government,” Tshewang Chojay said.

DITT ICT officer, Sanjay Gurung explained that because RCSC maintains information on civil servants such as where they work, it could help DITT to identify inactive users so more training could be provided to them. “There may also be other ways that RCSC could help with usage,” he said. “The department is currently studying possibilities at the moment.”

Besides lack of training, resistance to change and type of management are factors for the slow adoption of Google Apps. “It is difficult to say exactly what contributes towards low usage,” said Sanjay Gurung. “Maybe all of these factors have an impact on it since the usage of these new tools involves changing the way civil servants are used to working, there could be some resistance to change,” he added.

“However, we feel in most cases people are not adequately trained and therefore we are going to visit dzongkhags and regional offices advocating and training users including high level officials,” Sanjay Gurung said.

The government has already spent at least Nu 0.9 million training around 300 users, including all ICT officers nationwide, who in turn trained users in their respective agencies.

“Management involvement in motivating users to use these tools and bring about behavioral change is also essential,” he added. “We have seen agencies that have the most active users generally have the management driving the change themselves.”

In another move, DITT is proceeding with the deployment of Google Apps in the education ministry, where its use is being piloted. The government’s subscription comes with 250,000 free accounts for the education sector.

“In consultation with MoE (Ministry of Education) we plan to train school IT teachers when we begin training of users in the dzongkhags,” Tshewang Chojay said. “The trainings will begin soon.”

Gyalsten K Dorji

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