Monday, May 24, 2010

So THIS is Going Paperless? Really?

I just had a giggle-fit reading the small print in a federal grant Request for Proposals (RFP) when I got to the part about the Paperwork Reduction Act and the government's estimate of how many hours it should take to complete this grant application.  Clearly, whoever wrote this little ditty of a paragraph that has been pasted into thousands of federal RFPs over the years has never written a federal grant.

This one says that it should only take 40 hours to put this application together. I spend more than 40 hours just chasing down the information and doing the research I need to do to start writing.  I wonder if the developers of the recent Investing in Innovation (i3) grants considered the hours it would take to thoroughly read through the over 450 pages of RFP, FAQs and other guidance in their time estimate. I wonder how many trees gave their lives for that innovative program?

Then I look around my office at the piles of paper, and as I wonder how a person could actually figure out how many trees died in this "paper saving endeavor," I think "Paperwork Reduction Act?"  Seriously?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm all for preserving the environment and conserving paper, but I really think we use more paper since the world has started going paperless.

Think about it.  The information age and the ease of sending information over the internet means that more and more resources are available.  And even though most of those come in electronic form, what do most of us do with all of the PDFs?  Print them.

Why? So we can take them with us to read later.

Isn't that what all these mobile devices (iPhone, Netbook, Laptop, iPad, Kindle) are for? Yes, but the screen is too small or it's too hard to browse through the document electronically, or looking at a screen all day and all night hurts my eyes...or...or....or....

Sure, we get fewer bank statements in the mail, but I actually get more junk mail.  In fact, I get five times as more junk mail because now I get more paper junk mail that comes in the mail as well as all the email spam. The email spam isn't paper, but it's just as annoying.

There are more paper inserts in newspapers, too, even though fewer people are subscribing to them.  Maybe local advertisers can afford more inserts since overall circulation is down.

I am amused when I read that the inserts are made out of recycled paper because I know I'm just going to put them directly into the recycle bin without looking through them so they can get recycled and an advertiser can make more inserts that I won't read, and so on, and so on, and so on..  It seems to me that we could save a bunch of effort by just not printing them at all.  Why don't we make those advertisements paperless?

If the government is really so concerned about going paperless, why won't the IRS do it?  The IRS is actually generating more paperwork than before, and everything I get from the IRS comes with pages of useless gobbledygook.  We are supposed to file electronically so they have less paper to deal with, but why won't they return the favor?

At this moment, I really want to go back to the pre-paperless era.  I would have less paperwork to deal with than I do now.


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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.