Wednesday April 18, 2012
Paperwork just doesn’t work today
THE STAR SAYS . . . .
PAPERWORK is synonymous with bureaucracy. But we must understand that bureaucracy is not only restricted to the government service. In the private sector, the need to churn out paper can also be as exasperating as different departments within the same organisation create their own paper trails.
At this time of the year, when students apply to go to universities or colleges, or for scholarships, they normally have to include certified copies of the attached documents. The list will include, among others, identity card, examination results and testimonials.
Considering that the students do not just apply to one university or one scholarship provider, many certified copies have to be made.
Now, with one stroke of the pen, the Government has declared that such certified copies – usually done by authorised individuals like senior government officers, commissioners for oaths, MPs, assemblymen or village headmen – are not necessary.
And the good news is that the rule applies throughout the whole government machinery, meaning that it also applies to all forms of transactions with the Government where supporting documents are required.
Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said on Saturday that these requirements needed to be done away with as they did not portray correctly the modern image of the civil service.
Technology has linked up the various agencies to allow cross-checking to be done in an efficient manner. For example, the officer at the Public Services Department scholarship division can easily assess the results of the candidates through the Malaysian Examinations Council database.
A certified copy of the results becomes only an extra piece of paper to be filed away and disappear into the deep recesses of Putrajaya.
And why must there be a certified copy of an identity card when the whole National Registry Department database is available to check on the person’s identity?
Sidek pointed out that such requirements were purely administrative in nature and had no legal standing. It was just one big burden for the civil servants.
In line with the Government’s mission to improve its delivery system, Sidek said all ministries and state government departments and agencies needed to immediately review their work processes and simplify procedures for the people.
And this is where the real problem may be. Although good decisions are made at the top, they sometimes get lost in translation at the implementation stage.
It is important that the ground reflects what the Chief Secretary has decided, otherwise we will still be asked to submit certified copies when dealing with government agencies.
Meanwhile, the private sector should also emulate the example of the Government. For example, if you lose your wallet with your IC and credit cards, you no longer require a certified copy of a police report to apply for a replacement IC. However, your credit card companies still require that piece of paper.
And job seekers also go through the hassle, and spend quite a bit, when submitting their documents together with the application letter. They must wonder what the HR departments do with all that paper from the hundreds of applicants who are not successful.
In this well-connected world, let us not be handicapped by old systems where we have personnel dealing with paperwork that can be handled electronically.