There is a substantial cost to governments all levels to purchase, print, disseminate and store paper. In addition to the environmental costs, by choosing to eliminate paper in government operations, governments save purcahse costs of paper, ink, printers, files folders/file cabinets, postage to mail the paper documents created and personnel costs associated with handling all of the paper documents.
This chapter on paperless governments, appearing in a forthcoming book from the American Bar Association on the Greening of Government (eds. Hirokowa and Salkin), points to case studies in states and local governments across the country where governments are not only saving money (after an initial technology investment) but where paperless operations enhance transparency and access to government records by members of the public.
Most governments now allow for electronic signatures on documents and for electronic notarization, making the potential for increased use of paperless operations greater for just about any type of government document or record. The Chaper discusses a number of legislative and executive initiatives in support of this type of government reform.