More councils adopt paperless solutions for savings

February 28th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document Management | Information Management

The inefficiencies and waste caused by paper-based document management has caused more and more counties to convert to an electronic system.

The Daily News reported that the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners has finally realized a paperless reality, saving the board considerable expenditures on resources. Wireless tablets will replace the 139-page meeting packets after the board unanimously voted in favor of digitization. Chris Hyzer, the county controller-administrator, told the news source that the committee was optimistic about cost savings from electronic conversion due to a reduced need for paper, postage, copying and administrative staffing. Crystal County Commissioner Ron Retloff told The Daily News that he has long had the idea for the county to go paperless.

Commissioner Steve DeWitt of Coral was adamant that the iPads would pay for themselves within 15 months.

Other counties are committing to go paperless for similar benefits, including the Akron City Council. According to West Side Leader, the council aimed to utilize technology to ease the retrieval of information, and elected officials will now have access to legislation on tablets during meetings. Deputy Administrator Vito Sinopoli told the source that the town of Bath expects to reduce the amount of paperwork and labor involved in preparing for every Board of Trustees' meetings.

Council member Bill Roemer estimated that he received several feet worth of paper every year, which adds up between 11 council members and copies for other staff and the press. Running and maintaining copy machines has also been a burden with the paper-based system. Mark Potter, county council's chief of staff, explained that the council spends about $3,000 a year on paper and toner for printing packets.

More efficient use of time
The real savings, however, comes from a reduction in time-consuming labor. Assembling and organizing packets was a laborious task for staff, resulting in reduced productivity for the entire council. The electronic system will also make finding documentation much easier: Potter explained that members will be able to go back and review any meeting agenda or piece of legislation in a digital format, and all supplemental information will be attached and accessible.

West Side Leader reported that Akron City Council is continuing to work toward a larger paperless objective, largely due to the efforts of Rick Schmahl, the city's new chief information officer. After speaking with members about using technology to the council's advantage, Schmahl explained that the consensus was to expand use of the electronic document management system. Schmahl aims to make everything available on this system city-wide, so that legal departments can easily share files with police.

An electronic document management system can save officials considerable time preparing paper packets, which can allow councils to dedicate time and money toward more productive tasks.

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