As EPA Region 9 summer interns who’ve grown up in a Web 2.0 World, we feel we have a fresh perspective on how procedures are carried out with new technologies. We were surprised by the sheer amount of paper involved in the hiring process –SF-52, I-9, a physical welcome folder all of which were available online. For a total of 2 million federal employees, this translates into an incredible amount of paperwork and redundancy. We suggest simplifying the federal hiring process to become paperless and efficient, and have this paperless process resonate onto other forms and documents that are usually processed in hard copies.
For example, at EPA Region 9, we have a transit-subsidy form which has to be retained for 3 years in case of an audit. Printing, filling out, signing and submitting them for approval is time consuming and not cost effective considering they can be streamlined on an online format. This could be applied to many federal processes, and has been applied already in some cases such as by the Department of Education which allows students to utilize electronic PIN numbers to authorize their applications.
Adapting to electronic processes will save money explicitly and implicitly without a huge overhead cost. Explicitly going paperless could save cost in paper, mailing, ink, maintenance, and storage costs. More importantly, implicitly an electronic process can save federal employee’s precious time. Rather than submitting, processing, storing and locating hard copies of forms and documents, we would all have more time to serve our country! If the Federal government can get the ball rolling on this electronic form of digital record keeping, it can set a standard of efficiency for other public and private organizations.