2022: The last year of paper for records-keeping

PDF Association staff // October 12, 2017

PDF in general PDF/A Article


US National Archives buildingNARA (The National Archives and Records Administration) is the final depository for the long-term records generated by all other agencies of the U.S. Federal Government. The agency has a key role in preserving the cultural history of the republic as well as in maintaining and making accessible those operational records of government deemed of sufficient value for long-term archiving.

According to NARA’s newly-released draft strategic plan, the agency will stop accepting paper records at the end of 2022. The practice of paper records-keeping will, finally, come to an end, even if that “end” means scanning a pen-signed piece of paper.

There’s only one globally-recognized open standard for documents: PDF. There are all kinds of reasons that this should be the case. PDF is sufficiently like paper so as to be able to “take over” from it. PDF is sufficiently flexible enough to accommodate the wide range of communications types and methods that have assumed a paper medium since their inception.

Form-letters and newspapers and magazine ads and photo-proofs and so many more instances of documents all rely on PDF to provide the ology infrastructure that allows disparate authors, producers, publishers, printers and users to communicate.

Beyond the original and (relatively) simple task of providing a reliable electronic equivalent of paper, PDF has added many powerful features over time. From digital signatures and 3D data to reusability and file-attachments, these features are today still known only to a few, and are not generally leveraged.

Over the next five years the capabilities, benefits and pitfalls of this global document technology beyond simple page-rendering will see much greater interest as vendors communicate the capabilities that reliance on ISO-standardized PDF technology bestows; ECM/BI vendor and system independence, for one.

It’s the perfect time for PDF 2.0, the first version of PDF produced entirely within and under the control of ISO committees. The latest version of PDF has been checked and scrubbed and worked-over by dozens of experts around the world. There are many changes, but where PDF 2.0 really doubles-down is on one of the most critical features of PDF: interoperability.

PDF Day is an information-packed day on January 29, 2018, held at the National Archives in Washington DC. Designed for those planning records-management for the next 10 years, this PDF Day includes six areas of focus:

  • Electronic document workflows
  • Section 508 for documents
  • Output
  • PDF in Engineering
  • Looking forward in archiving
  • Accessible PDF

NARA, a new Partner Organization of the PDF Association, is kindly loaning us its historic Archives One building, in the heart of Washington, D.C. for the occasion. We expect a full house of the strategically-minded!

Join us by registering today!

PDF Day 2018 in Washington DC.

NARA's Draft Strategic Plan


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

PDF Association staff

The PDF Association is the meeting-place of the PDF industry. The staff of the PDF Association are dedicated to delivering the information, services and value the members have come to expect. Staff members of the PDF Association include: Duff Johnson (Executive Director) Thomas Zellmann (Managing Director) Matthias Wagner (Operations Director) Alexandra Oettler (Editor) Nicole Gauger (Editor)

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

PDF Association staff

The PDF Association is the meeting-place of the PDF industry. The staff of the PDF Association are dedicated to delivering …

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