Treasury chief secretary targets paperless government ‘within a generation’
Liz Truss claims technology could help reduce waste and banish ‘gremlins’ of government
The government should set a target of a running a paperless state “within a generation”, according to chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss.
During a speech given this week at the London School of Economics, Truss talked about her desire to use technology to reduce the bureaucratic demands placed on government. A key way in which this can be achieved is via the migration of paper-based processes to digital platforms, she said.
According to Truss, the goal over the next few decades should be to eliminate paper entirely.
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“David Cameron spoke about the post-bureaucratic age and an information revolution, but we’re still wading through paper. The box that I take home every night groans and creaks with documents,” she said. "It feels less like the post-bureaucratic age, and more like the most-bureaucratic. So, it’s my ambition that we transition to a digital, no-paper state within a generation.”
Elsewhere in her address, Truss said that, in examining its spending intentions and habits, government should begin to “think more as a start-up would”. Next year’s government spending review will adopt a “zero-tolerance approach to wasteful spend”, she added, as the Treasury implores departments to focus on value.
“Those familiar with the 1984 film Gremlins will recall how the cute Gizmo, when fed after midnight, turned into a slime-soaked baddie Stripe,” Truss said. “In much the same way, there’s a tendency for governments and bureaucracy to multiply and exert further control. And, before you know it, gremlins are everywhere. There is a temptation to feed these creatures after midnight.”
She added: “But, more widely, we have to recognise that it’s not macho just to demand more money. It’s much tougher to demand better value, and challenge the blob of vested interests within your department.”
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