Recommendations for PDF/A

A survey of implementation examples of PDF/A from across industries. Examines standard eBilling in banks and insurance companies, digital format sustainability in archives and libraries, and other factors in the public sector and government.

Banks and Insurance; Industry

Standard eBilling based on the ISO Standard PDF/A as Document Format

At the DMS Expo 2009, the Organization for the Promotion of Automated Accounting (Gesellschaft zur Förderung des automatisierten Rechnungswesens e.V. “GFaR”) introduced their proposal for creating a standardized process for the electronic exchange of invoices.

Standard eBilling uses the ISO standard PDF/A as document format and the XML standard openTrans, developed by the Frauenhofer Association together with German companies from the economics sector, for embedding the invoicing data. The PDF/A document and the embedded invoice data form a single entity which is “sealed” with an electronic signature. The requirements of the VAT tax act for permissible electronic invoices and the General Fiscal Law for verifiability and long-term archiving can be thus easily fulfilled.

Standard eBilling is available for everyone to use. If it is correctly implemented, anybody who generates or receives an invoice can participate in it, even without the agreement of the other party.

Archives and Libraries

Sustainability of Digital Formats: Planning for Library of Congress Collections

The Library of Congress has published a detailed record about sustainability of digital formats and PDF/A-1.

The Swedish National Archives estimates PDF/A to be a suitable format for archiving textual documents

The LDP Centre (Centre for Long-term Digital Preservation) recommends PDF/A:

The demands on records, to be in native state and complete for preservation over time, must be taken in consideration when choosing a file format: PDF/A-1 is formed to meet these conditions satisfying for some types of documents.

Besides the metadata every document is provided with, it is also possible to apply more metadata to the document. Metadata can help to increase the documents traceability and show its history. There can be information about who constituted the document, when it was done and if any changes has been made to the document or its metadata.

Original information (date: 2010-01-08) on the website of the Luleå University of Technology

University of Potsdam stores documents on their publications server in PDF/A format

The University of Potsdam is aiming to have all documents on their publications server stored in PDF/A format in the future. This is stated in a notification that is published on their website. Users can also finds tips about how to create PDF/A documents from original formats, e.g. Word, or for converting from LaTeX to PDF/A.

File Delivery: German National Library prefers PDF/A

The German National Library prefers PDF/A ahead of all other data formats when content is delivered in digital format. This is stated in the institute’s regulation concerning file formats. “Conventional” PDF comes in second place, followed by HTML. The complete list with further information for submitting documents can be found on the website of the German National Library.

Austrian National Library prefers PDF/A

In their Information for Suppliers and Libraries, the Austrian National Library has stipulated that they prefer to receive files in PDF/A format. This recommendation from the Austrian National Library with respect to the delivery of digital documents in PDF format places additional constraints on the files, and is aimed at ensuring support for the long-term archiving of digital documents. It orients itself on the ISO standard ISO 19005-1:2005 “Document management – Electronic document file format for long-term preservation – Part 1: Use of PDF (PDF/A)“, which is based on Version 1.4 of the PDF format.

Public Sector and Government

Brazilian Government has been consolidating the e-PING architecture

Brazilian Government has been consolidating the e-PING architecture – “Electronic Government Interoperability Standards”, which has as purpose to be a paradigm for the establishment of policies and technological specifications, which allow the delivery of quality electronic services to the society. In such context, the interoperability of technologies, processes, information and data is a vital condition for quality services providing, becoming premises for governments all over the world, as groundwork for electronic government concepts, the e-gov.

As for the preparation of the final version of the documents, it must be sent to other organs or even digitally filed, and is recommended the use of the pdf/a format. Documents that need integrity and/or authoring guarantee, in addition of being in pdf/a format, must be digitally signed by their author, using the ICP-Brazil certificate.

www.governoeletronico.gov.br

E-Government in Switzerland: Electronic legal correspondence with authorities using PDF/A

In Switzerland, petitions to authorities and courts can be provided electronically since January 1st, 2011. Permitted file formats are PDF/A and in some cases PDF. The complete list is available on the website of the Schweizerische Bundeskanzlei (in German).

Denmark opts for ODF and PDF/A

According to parliamentary decision, beginning 1 April 2011 governmental authorities in Denmark will be obligated to use the open standard format ODF. ODF is unique as the only editable format that fully satisfies the five-part “openness” criteria for open standards. PDF/A-1 is listed for non-editable published documents. Read more in this press information (PDF) published by the OpenDocument Format Alliance.

France: French Government recommends PDF/A

In France, the Direction Générale de la Modernisation de l’Etat, Ministère du Budget (Directorate General for Modernization of the State, Ministry of Budget) issued a recommendation early in 2009 for the handling of electronic data. The document recommends using the ISO standard PDF/A for archiving administrative documents with static, unalterable content. The general framework for interoperability can be downloaded in French from: Référentiel Général d’Interopérabilité (RGI). The information about PDF/A can be found on page 63.

Federal Government Coordination and Advisory Agency for IT in the Federal Administration assesses PDF/A-1

The Federal Government Coordination and Advisory Agency for IT in the Federal Administration (KBSt) has recently published the updated Version 4.0 of SAGA (Standards and Architecture for E-Government Applications). The new version places more emphasis on PDF/A-1 and explicitly recommends this standard. SAGA describes standards, technologies, and methods for using information technology in federal authorities and provides recommendations for E-Government in the public sector. The comprehensive report can be found at www.kbst.bund.de, including a download link to the SAGA document (SAGA Version 4.0 is not yet available in English).

PDF/A for long-term archiving in MoReq2

MoReq is a European specification for electronic document and records management. The abbreviation stands for “Model Requirements for the Management of Electronic Documents and Records”. MoReq was originally developed for a standardized exchange of documents between the European Commission and the governments of member states. The newest version of MoReq (MoReq2) includes PDF/A in the list of recommended data formats, e.g. for scanned documents and for long-term archiving. More information can be found at www.moreq2.de; a copy of the standard can be downloaded here.

Austria: BAIK uses PDF/A for its collection of land register deeds

The Federal Chamber of Architects and Engineering Consultants in Austria requires that publicly available electronic documents comply with the PDF/A-1b standard. In addition, the authenticity of electronic documents that are being added to the land register will be assured through use of a qualified digital signature. More details are available on the BAIK website: www.baik-archiv.at. A good overview is also offered in the overview diagram of the BAIK archive.

Norway: Openly available formats to be mandatory for published government information

The Norwegian Government has stipulated that all information published on state-run websites should be saved in an openly available document format, such as HTML, PDF resp. PDF/A, or ODF. PDF/A is recommended for all documents that have a binding layout. This regulation came into effect on January 1, 2009. More details can be found in the announcement from the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform.

Since January 1, 2010 municipal administration too has order to use open file formats (ODF, HTML, PDF 1.4 or better PDF/A) when publishing information via internet.

Switzerland: Communication between public administration and citizens using PDF/A

The Swiss Federal Council, in a draft resolution for “Regulations for electronic transmission within the scope of administrative proceedings”, is turning to PDF/A. In the future, electronic communications between the administration and citizens concerning directives will use PDF/A format because of its suitability for long-term archiving. The regulation comes into effect on January 1, 2008 and should be fully implemented within 10 years. Further details are available from the Swiss federal authorities at www.admin.ch.

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