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OP-ED: Guyana’s fetish with ‘hardcopy’ paperwork

Guyana seems to have a fetish for ‘hardcopy’ paperwork in this day and age of technology and the fixation is becoming increasingly annoying and unnecessary.

Without naming agencies, I would simply ask, why does one have to repeatedly summit among other things, proof of address and a National Identification Card and in some instances a copy of those very documents which apparently is ‘never’ kept on file when making routine visits to some offices?

I think it’s a waste of time and money. I will go further to say that I believe some people just love to request a pile of paperwork to look, feel and seem busy and important, period!

Another thing I have noticed recently is the breach of the principles of Office Procedures now referred to as Office Administration which dictates that documents ought to be placed ‘facedown’ and away from the eyes and hands of persons unconcerned with the same.

I recall walking into a police station recently where two police logbooks were left unattended on a station counter in the inquires room. If I can recall, they were the occurrence book and the property book respectively. I wanted to pick them up and take them to the commander’s office several villages away but on second thought, I wondered if they would have been so embarrassed and then turn around and charge me for simple larceny so I left them there.

There was another instance in another police division where several logbooks appear to be old ones and filled; stockpiled in the passageway of a police station, easily accessible to anyone. I think that ought not to be and I will give suggestions for these matters to be remedied.

SUGGESTIONS:

  • When members of the public submit documents to offices to process transactions, those documents should be scanned and kept in a computerized system with off-site backup capabilities so that all this paperwork can be eliminated.
  • Unless you are a rolling stone, I see no need for persons to be asked to walk with a proof of address on every visit to an office to do a transaction. On the issue of Identification Cards, we can make the argument that the photographs are not always a true reflection of the individual presenting the same given the poor quality. The suggestion for that is this; the state should outsource the taking of photographs of persons to professional photographers so that the quality of photographs submitted for printing onto the ID cards would be of superior quality.
  • Refresher training should be conducted with office staff so they are reminded of how to treat with documents. Turn them face down if they have to be because of the public’s eyes. Or file them away and when there is a need for those documents to be used, go and retrieve the same.
  • In instances where diaries (in the case of the police) are filled and not likely to be needed anytime soon, those should be stored away from the station to prevent them from being tampered with or going missing, the latter which is not strange when it comes to police records.
  • Finally, concentrated efforts should be made to have all public records imputed into a National Data Base System with restricted access and mechanisms to safeguard against their willful or unintended damage and or deletion or even deliberate destruction or by un-natural occurrences such as natural disasters, systems failure or hacking, etc.