It's High Time for Bexar County to Make a
Paradigm Shift in Information Management
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
June 6, 2002
I love to read! However, little more than a week goes by when I am inundated with a foot-high stack of reports and compilations of all sorts. Some are cover-to-cover must-reads, some are mere reference materials and others are to be seen and never read because of their limited value or relevance. All however, have veritably taken a forest to be printed and consume limited space in my office and in our Courthouse. As if this were not enough, they then all too often, find their way into the landfill in Precinct Four!
But let's take this a step further to understand the magnitude of the paper and information glut. For the first three years of my being County Commissioner, I suppose I have been the recipient of a literal ton of information. Multiply that times five to get an idea how much of a paper glut is being created just on Commissioner's Court alone and how much information we attempt to digest and manage. When you take the 24 city councils, 16 school boards, 6 or so special district boards each with its multiple members and add to it the 181 members of the Texas Legislature let alone Congress, you have a ton of underutilized information, to say nothing of a huge waste! Again, in a state and a nation of trash barges and limited landfills, this paper glut is unnecessary.
In his book entitled "Business at the Speed of Thought", Bill Gates quoted Michael Hammer and James Champy, authors of "Reengineering Your Business", "It is sobering to reflect on the extent to which the structure of our business processes has been dictated by the limitations of the file folder." So it is one thing to deal with simply managing the information and accepting the physical burden in terms of space requirements. But the really important achievement in going digital would be getting valuable or vital information through a word search and just when I need it.
Not the only solution, but a solution: Ask that the "report-generating mills" notify recipients in advance that they wish to send a report to officials participating in the "Paper Reduction Program". This would be done in the situation where the report is over twenty-five pages or so, in length. The sender would inform the official as to the topic, the number of pages in the document and await the response as to whether the official wished to receive the document. If so, the document would be e-mailed to the recipient. If not, the recipient would merely file the notification of the report being available into a "Reports Available" file.
With the best information being the soundest foundation for great decision-making, public officials can and must visualize priorities with greater clarity.