Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Government should make better use of email

I recently wrote, by email, to the SPVA, a department of the Ministry of Defence that deals with veterans. Two replies have so far come by post, one first-class and one second, both clearly acknowledging my email.

There is a £37bn hole in the defence budget, courtesy of the last government. Yet civil servants reply to emails by letter through the post, as does my Labour MP, who seems to think money grows on trees. Perhaps the two letters to me cost a total of £1 for stationery and postage.

Multiply that by the thousands of letters sent every day from Whitehall, and its agencies, and it is clear that money could be saved.

The most logical way of dealing with communication is to reply using the same method as did the originator. But, where possible, email should be used. It is quicker, cheaper and altogether more efficient, allowing copies to be forwarded and saving time and effort. Everyone benefits and, in the end, there is less to recycle.

Why does the Civil Service not understand that cost-saving requires leading from the front and setting an example? Why does it not cut out waste at every stage of its business? Why do ministers not insist on a more sensible management of government correspondence? Such insistence might help set the tone for still more efficiencies; we surely need them.

Lester May, Lieutenant-Commander RN, London NW1

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