It’s not you, it’s the paper: efficiency and OMB 17-22

One of the key provisions of the recent OMB 17-22 Memo is process analysis and the creation of an Agency Reform Plan that drives efficiency and eliminates duplicative tasks. The challenge of greater efficiency is insurmountable in a paper-based world without automation and collaboration options.

A classic challenge for federal agencies can occur when several agencies must respond to a new initiative or a disaster of some type. During those efforts, there is an emphasis on getting resources out and in use by recipients. This often results in several overlapping processes and a blizzard of paper forms, reports and other documents. One reason for this is that federal agencies have few, if any, options for collaboration and sharing information.

The result? Recipients fill out forms with redundant information again and again, while federal staff review, file and store documents with essentially the same information – repeatedly. In this case, the duplicative action isn’t caused by staff, it’s caused by the paper-based processes and information silos that plague staff running programs and delivering services.

Reform your agency, without paper

If you accept that, then your Agency Reform Plan must consider some key technology tools to overcome the root causes of duplicative work – paper and silos. State and local governments grapple with this issue as well, although the scale isn’t always the same. They often use enterprise content management (ECM), and especially workflow automation, electronic forms and integration to data systems. These tools drive efficiency by eliminating paper and fostering collaboration that eliminates duplication.

Here’s how it could work for your agency:

  • Implement electronic forms

Whether you put these forms on a website or a portal, entering data into an electronic form means only needing to type it once, unlike with paper forms. And, when coupled with workflow, these electronic forms can immediately route to staff and begin a process to carry supporting documentation along for easy access.

  • Workflow automation

Automation, along with abandoning paper, eliminates staff task and task completion time, routes work quickly through workflows, enables interaction with Outlook, adds timed processes and provides staff with notifications of new work or approaching deadlines. Workflow automation can also alert other agencies through email and route work as needed, breaking down silos and supporting collaboration that could eliminate duplication across agencies.

  • Integrate data and documents

By going paperless, you can also connect systems to make it easy for agency staff to move between data systems and still have access to a common file of virtual documents governing a project, recipient or applicant. Instead of having paper files stored in every location, a single authoritative file, created once, is available to staff simultaneously from any location. The time saved with a quick retrieval from the data systems adds up, too.

Any agency can find ways to improve processes and be more efficient. If your agency is responding to OMB 17-22 and you haven’t considered the effect of paper on your business process management, you are missing a source of considerable potential improvement.

Using ECM gives you the tools above and is a proven platform for government. So, as you plan for agency improvement, put the emphasis where it belongs, because it is not you, it’s the paper.

Terri Jones

Terri Jones

Wondering what goes into a document management or ECM software deployment in government? Terri Jones, Hyland's government marketing portfolio manager, has your answer. In her 10 plus years in both state and local government, she's managed IT departments, implemented ECM strategies and written legislation and program policies. If that isn't enough to prove her IT expertise in government, she has also designed and implemented data systems and websites to manage compliance and funding in excess of $90 million annually. Have a question for her? Contact her at terri.jones@onbase.com.

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