Babila Lima

Babila Lima
Operations Officer, Fiscal & Administrative Division
Department of General Services
Baltimore, Maryland


Due to reliance on paper, DGS had been struggling to get data on workflows, making it difficult to create standard operating procedures and key performance indicators. Also, it wanted to reduce the huge costs of using paper: not just the reams of sheets, but Xerox machines, printers, ink, and even real estate costs to house all the associated files.


Babila realized that to change habits, he needed to educate colleagues about the costs of paper and its inefficiencies, and the value of using e-communication. He led a campaign to do so, and helped to identify where paper was not needed and where the Department could move paper-based processes to an electronic management system. To take a small example, by moving its current urgent work order processing from a paper process to an Internet one, it will save $7,500 over five years on paper supply costs alone.

Lessons Learned

Communication is key. Valuable to develop a common language and specific key phrases you can use to win buy-in from staff and leadership. For example, DGS was able to get personnel to start appreciating that a process involves not only personal time but “batch time” and “data-driven efficiencies”; and not just “hard” paper costs but also costs of “equipment and depreciation” and “real estate and storage.” Finally, encourage the view that going paperless is not a destination in itself, but a means to achieve better processes and therefore results.

Babila’s Background

Grew up in Baltimore, went to a small high school in upstate New York, the Manlius Pebble Hill School. Graduated from Denison University in Granville, Ohio (’03). Two-and-a-half years in the Peace Corps in Mongolia; taught English in China four years, also studying Mandarin at Beijing Language and Culture University. Worked in Baltimore business policy and development for the City Council President, assistant deputy mayor, and then in the Department of General Services.

Startling Fact

In the Peace Corps, wanted to do something about coal-fired stoves which caused respiratory issues in his village. Decided to run the 267 miles to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar to raise money for 20 “smokeless stoves.” “Run for Air” gained local and international media attention, and the national sports agency voted to count his distance toward a commitment it had made for its citizens to run from Mongolia to London in advance of the 2012 Olympics, and to give him Mongolia’s highest award for athletic accomplishment.

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