While this initially seems like a cost-incurring idea, tablet computers could significantly reduce costs in a variety of ways.
They could replace desktop computers, laptop computers and Blackberries. Video chat capabilities could replace cell phones (or agencies could opt for a stripped-down cell plan without data or texting) and expensive-but-rarely-used video conferencing equipment. Fewer projectors would be needed, since the tablet could be used for presentations to small audiences.
Employees would be able to carry a virtual reference library with them, reducing printing costs for policy documents, procedures manuals, and the plethora of other materials the government currently pays to print.
This portability would enhance the ability to telework, enabling “hoteling” of employees when they need to be in the office. This would result in reduced space requirements, and thus reduced real estate costs. Fewer desk phones, printers and other peripheral devices would be needed. Transit subsidies would be reduced or eliminated for teleworking employees.
Finally, travel costs could also be reduced. While there is still a need for people to meet occasionally in person or to attend conferences, working groups could convene via videoconferencing and use collaboration tools to share documents, presentations, and other materials, and could use these same tools to brief others.