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Monday, September 02, 2013

Paperless government?

If there is one thing we can all agree on it is that government bureaucracy uses too much paper and can be more efficient. However, surely we have to treat with some scepticism this report in the Independent that civil servants could cut the cost of government by £70bn in seven years just by making more use of computer technology.

That is because the other constant in the universe is that government computer projects always overrun, cost more than originally envisaged and fail to achieve most of the objectives set for them. This could be because those responsible for commissioning these projects often do not understand the systems they are commissioning and are dazzled by the claims and promises of computer company salesmen and women. I know, I have seen it happen.

The other obstacle is persuading people to change working practices. It is possibly for these reasons that Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude is more cautious in his estimation of savings. However, even then he will need a cast iron plan to make people change, to give up savings back to central budgets and to measure what are often ephemeral targets in a meaningful way. I am not holding my breath.
they should get a little smack with the ruler if they don't use the back of the paper to write upon
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