PDF finds its place in e-government

Placing the electronic document at the heart of e-government, a leader of Adobe Systems Inc. said today that there's plenty of room for Portable Document Formats in what he called the "most significant IT transformation for government."

"In e-government, documents are the critical point of connection between services and citizens," said Bruce R. Chizen, Adobe president and chief executive officer, at an afternoon keynote address at the FOSE trade show in Washington.

And with the new emphasis on secure cross-governmental information sharing, Chizen said, electronic documents will provide the face of intensifying back-end agency communication and collaboration, whether with one another, with industry or with international organizations.

Sharing customer examples such as the Internal Revenue Service and Food and Drug Administration, Chizen ushered in a demonstration of the new Adobe Acrobat 6.0 series, announced this week.

He said this latest version's full adoption of the commonly used Extensible Markup Language has helped PDF, a file format Adobe developed to allow the exchange of documents across computer systems without changing their layout, to catch on in the increasingly XML-dependent federal sector.

"PDF allows them to take the XML data and reproduce it reliably," but in a format that's easier on the eyes, Chizen said.

He said PDF systems targeted toward government users must involve open standards, be pervasive, increase document security, integrate with existing IT infrastructure and, soon, layer atop wireless platforms as mobile hardware continues to evolve.

But PDF seems to have already found a federal audience. Chizen said the public can link to about 2 million documents from .gov sites and has downloaded 1.5 billion PDF tax forms from the IRS Web site.

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