The Information System of Government Sessions, better known as e-Cabinet, is a powerful tool that the Estonian government uses to streamline its decision-making process.
It lets ministers prepare for cabinet meetings, conduct them and review minutes, entirely without paper.
At its core, the system is a multi-user database and scheduler that keeps relevant information organized and updated in real time, giving ministers a clear overview of each item under discussion.
Well before the weekly cabinet session begins, the ministers access the system to review each agenda item and determine one’s own position. They then click a box stating whether they have any objections or would like to speak on the topic. That way the ministers' positions are known beforehand. Decisions that have no objections are adopted without debate, saving considerable time.
Once Estonia adopted its e-Cabinet system, the average length of the weekly cabinet meetings was cut from 4 to 5 hours to just 30 to 90 minutes. The government also eliminated the need to print and deliver thousands of pages of documents each week – a significant reduction in environmental impact, not to mention cost.
Because e-Cabinet uses web-based software and audio-visual equipment, ministers can take part remotely, and have often done so.
Decisions made at the meetings can be e-mailed to interested parties or posted on a website even while the meeting is still going on.