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County Council Committee pilots project to save paper and promote transparency


Using existing technology in a new way


Taking advantage of technology solutions, the Metropolitan King County Council’s Accountability and Oversight Committee today conducted the Council’s first committee meeting that reduces paper use, saves money and resources, and improves public accessibility.

“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,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Chair of the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. “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.”

Previous committee meetings utilized paper packets containing proposed legislation, staff reports and accompanying materials inserted in file folders. Each twice-monthly meeting involved the production of 20-25 paper packets containing a total of 2,500 to more than 3,000 pages of paper.

Today’s GAO Committee meeting begins a 90-day pilot project in which committee meeting materials are posted online in pdf format and are available to the public as well as staff members several days earlier than the prior system allowed. Staff members no long receive paper copies of meeting materials, although Councilmembers will continue to receive one paper copy each, and a few paper copies will be available to the public attending the meetings. Paper packets no longer will be contained in file folders, and they will avoid using colored paper, which is more expensive and difficult to recycle.

“I invite the public to log on and follow along with our meeting agenda online,” said Lambert, who referenced the electronic committee documents via computer during the meeting.

The new electronic meeting packet includes a bookmarked agenda for easy navigation to specific agenda items online, in addition to including a title index.

“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,” said Lambert. “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.”

GAO Committee meeting materials are available on-line.

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