Much of civil litigation involving the U.S. government involves thousands of pages of memoranda, correspondence, and other documents. The amount of paper involved in the discovery process or in the production of documents pursuant to Freedom of Information Act requests can often quickly spiral into the thousands of pages. The Department of Justice and indeed all agencies should push towards a fully electronic discovery process, doing away with paper productions of material. There are several compelling reasons to switch from a paper-based process to a fully electronic one:
1) The change would save considerable money - A CD can contain hundreds of thousands of pages of material and costs less than a $1.00 whereas a ream of paper (only 500 pages) costs several times that amount, not to mention the time and labor cost of copying and printing documents, as well as the expense of shipping many pounds of paper vs. a single CD.
2) The change would be environmentally friendly - Using less paper and resources would cut down on the government's footprint and help further goals to reduce waste.
3) The change is required by the Courts - Since the change of the Federal Rules to include electronically stored information in the discovery process many Courts have ruled that documents should be produced in their native electronic format. The Justice Department should be taking the lead on conforming to the new rules and opinions of the Courts involving the transition to electronic discovery and production away from a paper-based process.