Committee shifts from paper to PDFs to cut costs

May 6, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. May 6, 2011

Paper is scarce as a King County Council committee takes steps to streamline government in order to ease the burden on the environment and taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

The council Accountability and Oversight Committee conducted a nearly paperless meeting Tuesday.

“This new way of doing public business will save scarce tax dollars on paper and printing while making information about committee work more accessible to the public,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, the committee chairwoman and Issaquah representative, said in a release. “This is a big step toward improving the efficiency of county operations by moving toward electronic solutions. In 2010, the county spent $1,169,988 on buying paper, which indicates great potential for savings.”

In the past, committee meetings utilized paper packets containing proposed legislation, staff reports and accompanying materials inserted in file folders. Each semimonthly meeting involved producing 20-25 paper packets containing 2,500 to more than 3,000 pages.

The meeting Tuesday launched a 90-day pilot project. Now, the material can be found online in PDF format. The material is available to the public and staff members several days earlier than the prior system allowed.

Staffers no long receive paper copies of meeting materials, although council members continue to receive one paper copy each. The county also makes some paper copies available to the public at meetings.

The process also aims to cut down on file folders and colored paper.

Lambert referenced the electronic committee documents via computer during the meeting.

“I would like to thank the staff who worked diligently to use our existing technology in a new way that should improve efficiency as well as reducing our costs,” she said. “This process should help us reduce paper usage. I look forward to the day that electronic documents will become the standard for conducting public business, and paper copies will be just for special occasions.”

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