Fed Government Mandate to Drive Adoption of Scanning and Electronic Workflow Solutions

It’s time for the paperless government!



Lee Davis


The federal government has a paper problem. As one of the largest bureaucracies on the planet, federal agencies spend a lot of time and money creating, collecting, using, and storing records in paper form. But the reliance on paper isn’t just a cost problem—it also makes it more difficult for citizens to use government-provided services, as they must interface with government organizations in person or through the mail rather than accessing digitized information using the internet. Paper also makes it more difficult for the federal government to access its own information as it must be located and extracted manually.


To combat these problems, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as well as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) came up with the Transition to Electronic Records directive (code-number M-19-21 for you policy nerds), which sets goals for federal government agencies to digitize their records-keeping and business processes. The directive instructs federal agencies to manage their permanent records in digital form by 2019, and that those records will have to be maintained with the appropriate metadata by 2022. The directive also mandates that all temporary records be managed in electronic form, ends the submission of paper documents to NARA, closes all agency-operated storage facilities, and requires agencies to use Federal Records Center or commercial storage facilities by 2022 (there are exceptions for certain government agencies). Finally, M-19-21 requires federal agencies to deploy and maintain a records management program, designate a Senior Agency Official for Records Management as well as an Agency Record Officer, and satisfy annual training requirements for all personnel. 


According to Forbes, there are 430 federal departments, agencies, and sub-agencies. Clearly, the directive creates an opportunity for document imaging vendors, since many of these government agencies will need to deploy business-process and records-keeping technology (or upgrade their existing one to comply with the mandate). Specifically, government agencies are going to require scanners that can automatically extract information and metadata from large volumes of paper documents, workflow automation solutions to manage document processing tasks, and information management solutions that help them store all their data in compliance with government standards—not to mention the ongoing maintenance and support such products require. Indeed, our recently published Document Solutions Forecast shows the document capture/workflow category in the US is growing from approximately $500 million in sales in 2018 to more than $680 million by 2024.


Source: Keypoint Intelligence Document Solutions Forecast 2019-2024


Kodak Alaris is one of the vendors poised to capitalize. The company offers scanning hardware as well as digitization software and services that address the goals of the directive, and recently participated in a series of (virtual) half-day events put on by Federal Computer Week magazine designed to help government agencies understand the changes required to implement entirely electronic records management and comply with M-19-21. Joe Yankle, Director of the US Public Sector at Kodak Alaris, sat on the event’s Premier Innovation Panel and shared practical steps that agencies should take to make the upcoming deadline—including best practices for scaling existing document capture solutions to maximize technology investments.


A host of other document imaging companies should also be beneficiaries of the government’s digitization shift, which could help soften the blow as print volumes continue to decline thanks to this initiative and other market factors. 


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