Putting govt documents online
TO make available government publications has always been an expensive and difficult operation. Many copies of the first printing may also become a dead stock. If the first printing is sold out, most copies of the second printing may remain unsold. That causes a loss.
Many publications are of great historical interest but became out of print a long ago. There are also government publications that were issued during the colonial rule and scholars cannot find them anywhere.
The new technologies provide a simple, as well as effective, solution. Now all publications, new as well as old, can be made available to everybody, everywhere and all the time. The best part is that it will not cost anything. The new publications — books, reports, manuals, laws, rules — are now composed on computers. These may be converted into portable documents format (PDF). The old ones can be scanned and also converted to PDF.
Both can be placed on the government website. Anybody may download any publication, whenever he wants it and wherever he may happen to be.
With no cost of paper, printing, binding, storage, etc., publications can be made available free of charge.
Downloading from a website is no problem for anybody. At present, about 25 million people use the Internet. That includes all, who need any publication, especially paper and electronic media.
It will not matter how many people download publications because the government will not have to bear any expenses. The federal and every provincial government may set up a cell, consisting of a supervisor and a few computer operators. The cell may borrow a copy of every publication already printed, scan it and then return it.
Simultaneously, it may get computer files of new publications and convert to PDF with just a few clicks on keyboard.
If government employees are not efficient and careful, the government may outsource the job on per page rate, inclusive of all expenses.
Since government employees do a poor job of hosting websites and maintaining them, the government may also hire a private firm for maintaining and updating the website for publications.
The annual expenditure will come down as the volume of work decreases. After scanning of out-of-print publications is completed, conversion and uploading of new ones will be a simple matter for the government.
M. ABD AL-HAMEED