Document management apps help agencies with paper cuts

Document management technology helped the Postal Rate Commission cut the volume of paper that gets shuffled around when the Postal Service requests a rate hike.

A typical rate case involves more than 2.5 million pages delivered to commissioners and other parties over a 10-month period, systems administrator Brenda L.T. Lamka said at a recent document management conference in Arlington, Va.

Each case required 24 copies of every document for the commissioners and one copy for each of the 125 to 200 other interested parties. A typical case would yield 23,000 pages of formal filings and fill three five-drawer filing cabinets with library references and supporting materials.

All for one

To cut down on paper, the commission chose a Web interface for downloading documents in Adobe Portable Document Format so that line, paragraph and page numbering would remain consistent on a variety of client computers, Lamka said.

The site's infrastructure had to handle large swings in the volume of traffic, which peaks when new rates are proposed and ebbs once they take effect. The site also needed an interface friendly enough for users with varying levels of computer savvy, Lamka said.

People who want to participate in future proceedings can sign up for a user account at the commission's Filing Online site, www.prc.gov/efile/efile.asp.

The real savings of document management comes from streamlining the business processes that produce paper, said Shawn Magill, business development director for the Defense Department's Document Automation and Production Service.

Some analysts have predicted that the demand for print will not diminish in the near future, Magill said. He advised agencies to think long and hard about on-demand printing technology to save on paper.

R. James King, an IT specialist at the Naval Research Laboratory's Ruth H. Hooker Research Library, said the library has changed from user names and passwords to IP authentication in order to control access to online journals. Users had been constantly sharing their passwords, he said.

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