By Representative Himes
President Obama has directed federal agencies to improve all digital record keeping systems in order to reduce the amount of paper we archive each year. This effort will help government become more efficient and help citizens access information more easily. This is a welcome change, and I commend the administration for implementing this in the coming months.
In a typical year, the National Archives receives 475 million pages of paper records. The President's memorandum will start to reduce that number as we replace reams of paper with megabytes of data. It just makes sense. Agencies have four months to come up with workable, cost-effective plans for moving record-keeping functions away from paper and into the digital realm.
Once agencies have made the transition, there's another benefit -- people across the country will be able to find information more readily. Searching through a database is far easier than searching through an endless array of filing cabinets. In order to make sure digital information is as accessible as possible, the President has required the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the National Archivist to consult with organizations who work toward more open government when designing new record management systems.
Efficiency is often a key that helps us solve complex problems. While moving records from paper to digital is a small step, it is still an important one. The President's action is commendable and welcome as we try to cut costs and red tape across the federal government.