Parliamentarians on both sides have agreed to cut paper waste in exchange for a tablet computer.
The move will thrust the 63-member Parliament into the modern tech era while offering savings, said Phillip Paulwell, minister of sscience, technology, energy and mining at the LIME Government Solutions Forum at The Wyndham Kingston hotel on Tuesday.
"In Parliament, for instance, the sheer volume of paperwork and documents that each parliamentarian has to handle on a weekly basis is a cost we really do not need to maintain. If, for instance, all those documents were transmitted electronically, the savings would be significant," he said.
"In that particular regard, we do have a plan. This plan, I am heartened to know, has support from both sides of the House, and that is to provide each member with a tablet computer. This will not only allow us to move large volumes of information more quickly and effectively, it allows us to save lots of paper."
The budget for the House of Parliament does not disaggregate stationery expenses as outlined in the Estimates of Expenditure ending March 2013. Stationery, however, is ostensibly held within either goods and services budgeted at J$29.5 million or other equipment at J$211,000.
Paulwell said that the technology allows document storage, transfer and retrieval. The global brand HP launched a tablet-like computer in the early millennium but the tablet only became popular over the last two years following the release of the Apple iPad which spawned a series of rivals.
Cutting paper waste
"We can save money - and the environment - by cutting paper waste. It is amazing to see how much paper we use in Government on a daily basis. By incorporating ICTs we can reduce, even eliminate the need for paper altogether," he said.
He added that saving can also be found in Government using free and open source software. He also said that Government is still proposing to create a private network called GovNet to allow all ministries and agencies to seamlessly transfer data and files, aimed to cut costs and improve efficiency.
"We have started work on creating a common Government Wide Area Network (GovNet) which aims to harmonise and integrate all ministries, departments and agencies in one overall public-sector communications network, presided over by a chief information officer," Paulwell said.
"The working group held a retreat just over a week ago, and I am expecting a report very soon that will help the Government chart the way forward. Of course, I will give timely updates on our progress.
"Currently, the implementation of ICT investments throughout the ministries, departments and agencies of the Government of Jamaica is fragmented, uncoordinated and costly," he said.
"There are instances of overcapacity in some areas, and, in too many instances, woeful incapacity. In most cases, the business value of the investment has not been realised," he added.