May 12, 2010 By Karen Wilkinson
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Taxpayers likely didn't realize or even care, but when California's tax filing system moved from paper-heavy to electronic-friendly, it became a catalyst in the Franchise Tax Board's (FTB) goal of going green.
About 75 percent of California taxpayers file electronically, according to Tax Board CIO Cathy Cleek on Tuesday, May 12, at the Government Technology Conference West, in highlighting one of several recent changes at the board that has enhanced its green image.
As with many government agencies, green initiatives have added up to dollars saved -- a relationship that many citizens don't realize. "Citizens don't care if the taxman saves money," Cleek said.
But the agencies themselves certainly care. Cleek offered tips and shared examples of technology her agency has used to cut costs, reduce waste and improve sustainability. "That one small thing [e-filing] has really made a difference," she explained.
The FTB is striving to keep building on its green successes while encouraging others to do the same. While her agency is always looking for ways to save money -- it's "who we are," Cleek said -- cutting costs while reducing waste and energy consumption serve a dual purpose.
Speaking about specific ways the FTB has reduced its carbon footprint, Cleek used "green" as an acronym -- Generate less pollution, Recycle/reduce, Eliminate wastewater, Energy conservation and Now! -- to display ideas her agency used that can be mimicked by others. Below are some of those advances:
What may seem like a small potatoes, like moving to a plastic foam-free cafeteria, makes a difference and is visible, Cleek said. Also, create incentives for employees to use less energy, like a competition that tracks which department's employees use the least nonrenewable energy in getting to work.
"It's been fun and really made us more aware as an organization," Cleek said.
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