ICT: With the guideline for institutionalising paperless operations in place, employees from various government agencies will be undergoing training on how to implement the guideline in their agencies starting from December 26.

During a high-level workshop conducted in Thimphu yesterday, representatives from various government agencies discussed issues and the advantages of government offices going paperless.

Issues such as a requirement for reliable Internet connectivity, the need to backup sensitive online documents, protecting online documents from being hacked and how proper infrastructure is required to go fully paperless in offices were discussed, among others.

Secretary of the National Environment Commission Secretariat (NECS), Chencho Norbu, said that the adoption of a paperless system in government offices is timely from the environmental, economical and sustainable points of view.

“It is the first step towards implementing the guideline. We have a lot to learn and take it forward from today’s discussion,” Chencho Norbu said.

The guideline, launched on September 17 during the World Ozone Day by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, provides general and specific tips and recommendations for deploying the paperless initiative across government offices.

According to the guideline, a paperless office is a work environment in which the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced. While a 100 percent paperless office is unattainable, a few decisive steps applied over a period of time can dramatically reduce, if not eliminate, paper use in the offices.

Some of the benefits of an office going paperless, as per the guidelines, are easy access and search for documents that saves time, simplify office practices thereby enhancing public service delivery, timely communication and information sharing, cost savings, saving storage spaces and environmentally friendly.

The guideline highlights the annual direct savings of approximately Nu 11,600 on an average per person per annum, which could be achieved through paperless initiatives mainly as a result of improved efficiency in office operations and reduction in printing hard copies.

The guideline provides paperless office tools that can be used in offices such as use of applications, use of online collaborative tools such as emails for communicating and sharing, storing documents and information electronically, implementing high-speed scanners and network printers that connects computers over a network and accepts printing from multiple computers.

The guideline further provides strategies to go paperless in critical areas in government offices such as procurement services, administration and finance services, human resource management and development services, policy programme and planning services, and project management and implementation services.

Government initiatives such as implementing the use of Google Apps for official correspondence and documents sharing are in place and e-government initiatives such as Government to Citizen (G2C), Government-to-Government (G2G) and Government to Business (G2B) are already in the agenda for the 11th Plan.

According to the guideline, technological difficulties (such as system stability, network stability and reliability), human capacity (not having technological skills), data security and the based policy and laws are seen as some of the challenges for going completely paperless.

Thinley Zangmo