Intelligent tech can ease the transition to a paperless government

BrandPost By Iron Mountain
May 02, 20237 mins
Digital Transformation

A desire to better serve citizens is driving the move to paperless government. Intelligent document processing can help make the transition easier.

Relaxed employee
Credit: Dean Mitchell

There’s no doubt about the drudgery of paper-based processes. The notion conjures images of basements lined with boxes — those boxes stuffed with legacy documents and co-mingled files. Meanwhile, the idea of paperless records calls to mind a brighter picture. It looks like documents and data tagged for easy searching; files safely stored in digital form; heaps of paper securely shredded; workflows automated to save time and cut costs.

But in the government space, a shift to paperless means undoing processes that took centuries to create. At the urging of recent government-wide digitization 1 goals, federal agencies must soon manage all permanent records in an electronic format. This means finding their way through a disruptive digital transformation.

Those responding to the electronic records mandate understand that for e-government to succeed, it should keep pace with the expectations set by e-commerce. So, they will need a clear strategy and practical solutions. Among many concerns, agencies are considering:

● Which documents should be kept and for how long?

● What’s the best way to scan and store files?

● How will privacy be safeguarded for the information lifecycle?

Here, we explore answers to these key questions and consider the technology that can support this work.

Overcoming the ‘culture of paper’

Forward-thinking government and commercial leaders have already set a precedent for digital transformation, driven by efficiency gains and better service.

One agency digitized its mailroom with a secure content services platform to handle tens of thousands of incoming unemployment claims during the pandemic.2 A US-based law firm built an inventory database and organized more than 70,000 physical records.3 A global pharmaceutical company undergoing divestiture digitized vital records so both entities could split with the required data.4 A German logistics company reduced storage costs by digitally processing 23,300 trip reports from three branch offices in one month.5

Such proof points can encourage agencies to overcome deeply rooted paper-based systems and processes. Essentially, they must develop beyond what the National Archives and Records Administration’s Chief Records Officer Laurence Brewer calls a “culture of paper.”6

“There is still a lot of change management and process improvement work that needs to be done,” Brewer said.7The right technology solutions can ease the transition.

Better serve citizens with intelligent document processing

A desire to better serve citizens is driving the move to paperless government. The federal government spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of hours each year on paper-based processes — resources that could be dedicated to managing electronic records,

according to the Office of Management and Budget.8 Yet only 24% of federal agencies say their records meet the current guidelines to transfer to digital workflows.9

The connection is clear. By speeding up the digitization of paper-based documents and services, agencies can save time and money. Using intelligent document processing, they can make records and data available within and across agencies. They can reduce the cost of physical storage space and increase workforce efficiency while eliminating many of their staff’s mundane data-input tasks.

How will such an enormous undertaking be achieved so soon? Solutions lean on the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate document scanning and data extraction. A digital transformation built on this foundation can mature into cloud storage, workflow automation, and opportunities for data analysis.

“AI has just recently become available in the digital intake and scanning process,” said Melissa Carson, vice president and general manager of Iron Mountain Government Solutions, in a recent podcast.10 “An intelligent document processing solution can provide a process that’s eight times faster and 30% less cost than traditional scanning.”

Answering the key questions

As a world leader in intelligent document processing, content services platforms, and enterprise content management, Iron Mountain is equipped to work with federal agencies on their digital transformation goals.

Iron Mountain assists more than 156,000 organizations in 32 countries with storing, protecting, and managing their information. The company’s solutions and services align with crucial concerns outlined by federal agencies.

Which documents should be kept and for how long? Iron Mountain’s Clean Start offering11 includes an onsite or virtual assessment, expert recommendations, and an effective plan. Iron Mountain also offers retention and privacy policy management solutions12 designed to help agencies maintain a unified view of personal data, safely dispose of unneeded private information, and reduce exposure to data breaches.

What’s the best way to scan and store files? Whether it’s bulk scanning services or smaller projects, Iron Mountain assists by organizing physical files into a digital library. An agency will then have fast, easy, and secure access to information. Documents that don’t need to be scanned can be safely shredded or stored.13

How will privacy be safeguarded for the information lifecycle? Agencies can secure their data through a combination of Iron Mountain’s document scanning expertise, infrastructure, and modern cloud storage.14 To reroute the endless cycle of paper, inbound physical mail can be redirected to a secure facility for immediate scanning.

Next steps for government agencies

For too long, government agencies have been bogged down by paper records, their ability to serve citizens slowed by paper processes. Now they can digitally transform — giving taxpayers, fellow agencies, and staff members access to accurate information and modern experiences.

The experts at Iron Mountain can help by implementing technology and solutions designed to unlock data, automate administrative processes, and enhance end-user experiences. The result can be a modernized, digitally transformed federal government, one that can optimize workflows and improve document security while reducing costs.

Learn more about digital transformation for paperless government.