In response to the IT revolution and the trend towards globalization, Taiwan’s government has been actively implementing official document online approval initiatives, as part of the reform of government administration; this important policy measure is intended to solve the problems that Taiwan’s citizens have for many years had to contend with in terms of government administrative inefficiency, with documents being allowed to pile up unprocessed, documents going missing, etc.
The present study seeks to evaluate the results achieved in the Official Document Online Approval System Program that was launched in 2011. In-depth interviews were conducted with personnel using the new system at Ministry of Finance headquarters. The main objectives of this Program were to reduce paper usage and energy consumption and improve administrative efficiency; the effectiveness indicators used in the evaluation included reduction in the time needed to deliver documents, reduction in operational costs, saving of storage space, achievement of more effective control over document approval procedures, and flexible utilization of personnel. The study also considered the internal and external environment factors that might affect Program outcomes.
The results obtained from the analysis conducted in the present study were as follows:
1. Following the implementation by the Ministry of Finance of the Official Document Online Approval System Program, all personnel using the new system reported a high level of satisfaction with it.
2. The implementation of the Official Document Online Approval System Program by the Ministry of Finance achieved the Program objectives of reducing paper usage and energy consumption, and of improving administrative efficiency; clear benefits were seen in terms of reduction in paper usage and enhanced administrative efficiency. It was found that involvement in the Program could lead to changes in personnel’s document approval behavior and their attitude towards document approval, leading to significant positive effects, such as a transformation in the efficiency of document processing and in related habits; personnel changed from a passive, reactive attitude towards document approval, to adopting a more proactive stance towards the approval of official documents. Benefits were also seen in terms of closer horizontal integration between departments. However, no clear benefits were seen in terms of the flexible utilization of personnel, such as in personnel acting on behalf of absent colleagues.
3. As regards the impact of internal environmental factors, it was found that the level of satisfaction expressed in relation to the new system did not affect personnel’s willingness or unwillingness to use the new system for document approval. The fact that the implementation of online document approval did not extend to senior officials had some degree of impact on the results achieved in terms of reduced paper usage and efficient personnel utilization.
4. With regard to constraints imposed by the external environment, in terms of IT limitations and regulatory requirements, as no specific benchmark was set in terms of online approvals as a percentage of all document approvals, the Program goals were not affected.
On the basis of the results obtained in the study, it is suggested that the effectiveness of the Program with respect to improving the handling of official documents could be enhanced through the implementation of training and presentations, document review, integration of different types of application system, improvements in information technology, revision of relevant laws and regulations, etc.