In an effort to increase efficiencies and enhance customer service, city governments and municipalities are turning to document scanning as part of their digital initiatives. While completely paper-free operations and transactions are not always realistic in the public sector, document scanning services help close the gap between digital business process and hard copies. Before beginning a document imaging initiative, there are legal and management considerations to keep in mind.
Document Scanning Best Practice Considerations for Local Governments
- Have an implementation plan. The management of digital files poses the same challenges as their paper counterparts. Create a set of business and technical goals for the project, as well as an electronic records and imaging policy. Outline the type of documents that will be scanned, how they’ll be indexed, and how the various offices will keep up with the new processes.
- Know your state’s laws regarding the retention of hard and digital copies of documents. Many state archive offices have best practices and policies regarding the digital preservation of documents. Learn about these in advance to create policies and procedures for your own local government that ensure compliance with state and federal laws. Keep in mind that digital copies of documents may or may not take the place of hard copies.
- Consider document lifecycles. By law, local governments are required to maintain hard copies of certain original documents. Learn about the types of hard copies that the government offices need to retain and for how long. You’ll also need to know about the retention period of digital files. As part of the electronic records policy, outline a way to purge files after they exceed their retention requirements.
- Consider outsourcing document scanning services. A document imaging provider can be an integral part of a larger document management strategy. The professionals help streamline project implementation processes, document retrieval, file indexing and information distribution. They provide retention schedule management and handle the destruction of expired records. With modern character recognition capabilities, personnel can annotate, extract, redact and search for specific data within the documents without altering their original properties. The services can also aid in disaster recovery planning.
- Don’t use just any document scanning service. While there are several document scanning services available, make sure the one that you choose for your government offices complies with applicable privacy and background check laws for all of the departments. When scanning documents for a health department, for example, those providing the scanning services may need to pass the same background check criteria as those in the medical field to ensure compliance with federal mandates.
The ideal scanning service is also one that has an established reputation and is not at risk for going out of business in the near future. The service should have a secure location for hard copies of documents, as well as a comprehensive emergency disaster plan for physical and digital files.
In addition to helping increase office-related efficiencies, a document scanning service is a great addition to include in your local government’s emergency disaster plan in the event that hard copies of documents are damaged. Polygon specializes in document restoration and offers scanning services as part of a custom document recovery plan. Contact Polygon to learn more about the document recovery services offered or about integrating its Direct Reaction Team® and Code Blue® services into your government’s emergency management plans.
[Photo by North Charleston via CC License 2.0]