Agencies & paper: They just can’t help it…

80 percent of agencies that already work with electronic files continue to file away original copies, management magazine “Kommune 21” reports. This an unbelievable state of affairs: we’ve invested time, money, and effort into this process, setting up guidelines on digitalizing management and proclaiming goals – and now this? Eight out of ten digitalized documents are still finding their way into paper archives?

 

Municipalities fear risks

Anyone who thinks this is just foolish decision-making, however, would be in the wrong. Of course the law seems strange. But in reality, agencies can hardly do otherwise. They are acting in a legal grey zone at the present, and want to be safe. Why? Because lawmakers have evidently missed their chance to define criteria for properly managing electronic files in the German E-government Law.

 

Destroying files sparks fear

De facto, what this means is that every municipality is free to decide what “proper” means based on its own laws. But, since almost no one wants to expose themselves to the danger of making a bad decision and ending up with legally invalid digital documents, no one dares to destroy any files.

 

Twice the work, made in Germany

This means that electronic filing is preventing exactly what it was introduced to do: streamline processes. Most agencies today are still maintaining digital and paper archives in parallel. What’s even worse: the provision TR RESISCAN, which was actually designed as a guideline for scanning and archiving digital documents in a legally secure manner – and which was supposed to solve exactly this problem – has been made so complex that the term “impractical” would be a polite understatement. We can only hope that lawmakers will intervene and help get municipal administrators ready for future action by rewriting the guideline.