The orientation of the policy of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania in the field of e-government and e-services is posing and will continue to pose new challenges related to the regulation of electronic document management, the practice of their management, and long-term preservation of the documents.
The current policy of Lithuania in the field of archives policy and the priority directions of its implementation are closely associated with the search for solutions of electronic document management and its implementation.
It complies with one of the priority areas of European interdisciplinary communication laid down by the Council Recommendation on priority actions to increase cooperation in the field of archives in Europe (2005/835/EC): to safeguard the authenticity, long-term preservation and availability of electronic documents and archives.
In order to ensure the authenticity, long-term preservation and availability of electronic documents and archives, the provisions of electronic document management and procedures were first established by Electronic Document Management Regulations (2006) and in 2007, technical documentation (feasibility study and technical specification) for the project “Creating the infrastructure for storage of electronic documents in state archives” was prepared. The feasibility study provided for a pilot project to ascertain the technological possibilities of the processes of long-term storage of electronic documents.
In 2008, the then Department of Lithuanian Archives under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania completed the project “Creating the prototype (pilot project) of the information system for electronic document storage” and created the means for testing and checking the main procedures of taking over and long-term storage of electronic documents.
In the same year the Description of the Requirements for Specification of an Electronic Document Signed by Electronic Signature was approved, which created the preconditions for legalization of specifications of electronic documents signed by electronic signature.
In 2009, EU Structural Funds 2007–2013 assistance was received under the Economic Growth Operational Programme 3rd priority “Information Society for All” implementation measure “Interoperability” No. VP2-3.1-IVPK-06-V for the implementation of the project “Creation of Electronic Archive Infrastructure” of the Department of Archives of Lithuania. The amount allocated for the project from the European Regional Development Fund and the budget of the Lithuanian state was LTL 11,766,939.
When implementing this project, two electronic document storage sites in Vilnius and Šiauliai were equipped, Electronic Archive Information System (EAIS) and Freely distributed electronic document creation and validation software tool (compliant with the requirements of ADOC-V1.0 specification ) was created.
Taking into account the new changes in the field of electronic document management, in 2012, the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania prepared new Electronic Document Management Regulations. Electronic Document Management Regulations establish the provisions that the electronic documents prepared by an enterprise must comply with the requirements of the specifications approved by or coordinated with the Chief Archivist of Lithuania, except for internal electronic documents of an enterprise intended for brief storage. The Regulations elaborate on the means of preservation of electronic documents in an enterprise, the content of an electronic document, evidence of validity of electronic document signature, and other aspects.
CONCEPT OF AN ELECTRONIC DOCUMENT
The main feature of electronic documents is that these documents must be created, transferred, used, and stored by means of information technology; it leads to other features characteristic only to electronic documents, which distinguish them from regular (written) documents. Due to the ageing and transience of hardware and software, migration and conversion of electronic documents is a precondition for long-term preservation, since the storage period of an electronic document may be much longer than the service life of the means it was created by.
The new version of the Law on Documents and Archives of the Republic of Lithuania of 2005 laid down a wider definition of a document. The document was defined as the information recorded in the course of activities of a legal or natural person, regardless of its mode, form and medium. It created the preconditions for the emergence of electronic documents and their collection and storage as an integral part of the document heritage of Lithuania.
In 2010, after the Law on Documents and Archives of the Republic of Lithuania was amended, an individual concept of an electronic document was defined: an electronic document is a document of a legal or natural person, which is created, approved or received by information technology tools in accordance with the procedure laid down by regulations and is signed with a legally binding electronic signature.
An electronic document must have all essential and inherent elements: content, metadata, and electronic signatures.
The content of an electronic document is a part of electronic document wherein the information is provided in a textual, graphical or another form.
Another important constituent of an electronic document is metadata defined as structural data describing composition, surroundings of a document and specifics of its management during the entire period of document existence. Metadata is recorded separately from the document content.
An electronic signature must be used to confirm the legal power and authenticity of an electronic document. According to the Law on Electronic Signature, electronic documents may be signed by a secure electronic signature, created by a secure-signature-creation-device and based on a qualified-certificate, or an electronic signature that is not a qualified electronic signature. The definition of an electronic document laid down by the Law Amending the Law on Documents and Archives of the Republic of Lithuania of 2010 does not distinguish a particular mode of signing an electronic document by an electronic signature either.
An electronic document created or received in the course of activities of an organisation or a person is a proof of activities and as such must be retained reliable and authentic, integral and suitable for use throughout the existence of the document. The above qualities of a document are inseparable.
Throughout the service time of an electronic document it is important to be able to identify the author and time of creating the document; to trust the content as completely and precisely reflecting and confirming the activities of an institution and to ensure the veracity of the information recorded in the document; to protect against unauthorised change; to find, present, and understand the document.
Specification of Electronic Documents
In 2007, an issue of state-wide legalization of specification of an electronic document signed by an electronic signature was raised at the interinstitutional level. Several public institutions including the Department of Archives of Lithuania were appointed to prepare the requirements for the specification.
The specification of an electronic document is a document describing the technical properties, characteristics, and functions of an electronic document signed by an electronic signature and establishing the requirements for ensuring the interoperability of different software tools and other requirements. It defines the three requisite parts of an electronic document: structure of the content, metadata, and electronic signatures stored in the package of an electronic document.
Having analysed the regulatory environment and international experience in the field of management and storage of electronic documents and electronic signature technologies, the Department of Archives of Lithuania in 2008 prepared the description of the requirements for the specification of an electronic document signed by an electronic signature, which created the preconditions for legalization of the specification of electronic documents signed by electronic signature. The Description of the requirements for the specification of an electronic document signed by an electronic signature currently in effect lays down the minimum requirements for electronic documents of equivalent to written documents only.
In 2009, the Specification of Electronic Documents Signed by Electronic Signature ADOC-V1.0 equivalent to written documents was approved. It is currently most widely use in public institutions of Lithuania. In order to ensure the compatibility of electronic documents, the specification was prepared based on open format and electronic signature standards and recommendations.
An electronic document compliant with the ADOC specification is comprised of the content, signed and non-signed metadata, and electronic signatures (electronic signatures compliant with the standard XadES) stored in a ZIP package.
After the Description of the requirements for the specification of an electronic document signed by an electronic signature came into effect, other specifications of the electronic documents signed by an electronic signature were prepared and are now used in special activities of public institutions. Those are the Specification of a Document Signed by Electronic Signature in the Electronic Service System for Residents (EGAS V1.0) used in the activities of State Social Insurance Fund Board and Specification of an Electronic Document Signed by Electronic Signature and Read by a Computer (MDOC-V1.0) used in the activities of State Tax Inspectorate under the Ministry of Finance. According to these Specifications, electronic documents must also be signed by electronic signatures compliant with the standard XadES.
It is noteworthy that in 2011, in the conference “e.Demokratija: įvesti” (“E-Democracy: Introduce”) organised by the movement “Aš Lietuvai”, the awards of “Lithuanian E-Achievement” were presented. The service was nominated for “E-Achievement: National Strategic Innovation” for the unified format of electronic documents ADOC/MDOC.
Currently there is a demand for other specifications of electronic documents equivalent to written documents, electronic documents in PDF format signed by the electronic signature compliant with the standard PadES. The possibilities of legalizing the specifications of electronic documents not equivalent to written documents (video, audio, drawings) are also being considered (the format of ADOC document is oriented to proper long-term preservation of electronic documents equivalent to written documents and stored permanently and for long time periods).
The compatibility of electronic documents created according to the specifications allows transferring an electronic document created in one system to any other system and verifying the authenticity and suitability of an electronic document for long-term storage, if it is included in the functions of the systems.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF ELECTRONIC DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT
The main legal act observed in organizing electronic document management in the public sector is the Electronic Document Management Regulations approved in 2012. These Regulations set forth the general requirements for preparation, management, accounting, storage of electronic documents and management of electronic document systems of public institutions and persons authorized by the state.
The management of electronic documents throughout their existence period should be carried out in an electronic document management system compliant with the requirements applicable for the management of electronic documents set forth by the legislation.
An electronic document management system is a part of document management system of an enterprise functioning on the basis of information technologies and intended for preparation, handling, including into accounting, storage and deletion of electronic documents.
Electronic documents created and received by the institution and related to the activities of the institution must be registered in the system to substantiate their formality and to ensure search and access possibilities. Electronic documents created or received by an institution and registered in the electronic document management system must be systematized according to the institution documentation plan. Electronic files are created from electronic documents created or received by an organization. Complete electronic files of an institution must be accounted for and the storage period of electronic documents is calculated from the end of the year of completing (closing) an electronic file.
In order to preserve electronic documents, they must be periodically “updated”, i.e., transferred (copied) to new technical storage media and, if necessary, transferred (converted) to new formats that meet the requirements of the most recent software.
With regard to the above, applicable Electronic Document Management Regulations provide for the possible actions of preservation of electronic documents in an institution (updating the storage media, changing the package, reversible conversion) and the procedures of preservation of the electronic document content and evidence of validity of electronic document signature.
After the set minimum electronic file storage period expires, the expertise of electronic documents is carried out and the decision is made regarding further storage or deletion. Electronic documents registered in the electronic document management system of an institution may not be deleted before a decision to delete the electronic documents is made and approved.
TRANSFER OF ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTS TO STATE ARCHIVES
Transfer of electronic documents to state archives means not only the physical transfer of an electronic document from one institution to another, but also the transfer of responsibility for the storage, supervision, and use of the documents.
After the Law Amending and Supplementing the Law on Documents and Archives of the Republic of Lithuania came into effect in 2012, public institutions transferring electronic documents to state archives in the procedure set by the legislation must transfer not only permanently stored documents, but also the electronic documents stored for long periods of time (from 26 to 100 years). The procedures of transfer are set forth in Regulations of Transfer of Electronic Documents of the Activities of State and Municipal Authorities, Institutions, and Enterprises to State Archives of 2012, which establish the requirements for transfer of electronic documents of public institutions stored permanently and for long periods for further storage to state archives. These Regulations establish the structure of the transfer package, the procedures and actions of coordination of transfer, the transfer and acceptance of electronic documents in state archives, and the means of transferring electronic documents to state archives.
Electronic documents must be transferred to state archives within 5 years from the year of completion of electronic files and must meet the requirements of the specifications approved by or coordinated with the Chief Archivist of Lithuania (currently, the electronic documents compliant with the specifications ADOC-V1.0 and EGS V1.0 may be transferred to EAIS). Transferred electronic documents must be signed by electronic signature of XAdES-X-L format or higher, which means that an institution must ensure that the electronic signature bears two time marks.
Electronic documents are transferred in packages, which consist of metadata of the package, metadata or transferred and lost units of account and constituent documents, and electronic documents compliant with the Specification, each created as an individual file. Electronic documents may be transferred by the following means: via the user interface of Electronic Archive Information System, via electronic document management system of the institution, which is interoperable with the information system, or by recording in single-use optic storage media (e.g., CD-R, DVD-R). If electronic documents are transferred to state archives in optic storage media, the responsible employee of the state archive transfers the packages to EAIS.
Accepted electronic documents and the files comprising their content are checked by antivirus software, the quantitative verification of accepted electronic documents is performed, their authenticity is verified, and the content is transformed to long-term storage format PDF/A-1; the content is transformed to online viewing format PNG (except for JPEG files); archival verification of original electronic documents and copies of the documents transformed to long-term storage format PDF/A-1 is performed by adding archival time marks to valid electronic signatures of XAdES-X-L electronic signature format and creating an archive electronic signature format XAdES-A; the copies of the original document and its transformed content are entered into electronic document storage as well as the received original electronic document packages, which are saved in WORM storage media.
After the state archives saves the electronic documents in the storage, a certificate of transfer of electronic documents is signed and the electronic documents are stored in EAIS for the time period set by the legislation.
ELECTRONIC ARCHIVE INFORMATION SYSTEM
The creation of the Electronic Archive Information System (EAIS) launched at the end of 2011 was encouraged by the increasing amount of information in the documents, registers, and information systems, growing costs of “paper” document storage, and the demand for a unified National Document Fund (NDF) information search system.
Creating EAIS enabled transferring electronic documents to state archives for storage by means of information technologies, organising their reliable safeguarding, and providing the electronic services of access, search, and presentation of NDF electronic documents and their information to all users.
The main users of EAIS are public institutions transferring the documents to state archives and the persons searching for information in state archives.
The possibility to use the electronic documents for a long or unrestricted period of time will be ensured by transforming their content to long-term storage format (PDF/A), which will be periodically reviewed and updated in the future. Electronic documents will physically be stored in two geographically distant electronic archive data centres (in Vilnius and Šiauliai). Creating back-up copies of the information of the active data centre in a reserve data centre, storage media and the possibility to switch the operation of the system in the event of failure of one data centre is planned in the future.
EAIS has the following modules: Document Management Supervision, Transfer and Acceptance of Electronic Documents, Storage of Electronic Documents, Publication and Presentation of the Documents, and Administration.
The functions of the modules are divided into the following subsystems: public (intended for the institutions transferring the documents – to transfer electronic documents and data necessary for the supervision of document management to state archives; for legal and natural persons – to search for and view the documents, to order and receive certificates and copies of electronic documents, and to create, check, and review the electronic documents) internal (intended for the employees of state archives system to administrate the users of the system, their rights, and classifiers; to supervise the management of documents transferred by the institutions; to accept electronic documents for storage, to manage the risk of their storage; prepare and submit the copies of electronic documents approved by the archive employees) and storage (intended for storing electronic documents and the official data of the storage, search of electronic documents and risk management).
The main functions of EAIS are performing the functions of management supervision of the documents transferred by institutions to state archives by means of information and communication technologies (coordination of data of accounting documents, submitting the reports to state archives, etc.); transfer of electronic documents to state archives; storage of electronic documents ensuring their integrity, authenticity, confidentiality, and the availability for use in the long-run; search and submitting of electronic documents comprising the National Document Fund (NDF) stored in state archives by means of information and communication technologies; provision of information (description) on the NDF documents stored in state archives regardless of their mode, form and medium by means of information and communication technologies; submitting requests to state archives to issue the documents confirming legal information and issuing the copies of certificates and electronic documents in the form of electronic documents.
EAIS Electronics document storage module includes the following logical repositories:
- 1. Originals;
- 2. Transformed archive – PDF-A;
- 3. Transformed public – PNG/JPEG;
- 4. Copies.
Supporting metadata repositories:
- 1. Original packages;
- 2. Archive validation.
An electronic document as such is being preserved in the Saperion structure in the corresponding logical repository, and metadata is preserved in the database. Within the given time or on demand, a repeated check of the authenticity of certain groups of documents or separate documents (of the copies of their transformed contents) is being carried out, as well as their archival validation. The process is managed by EAIS data centre administrator. Within a certain time or on demand, a repeated contents transformation of the groups of documents or separate documents (of the copies of their transformed contents) into new formats is being carried out. The whole process is initiated and managed by the EAIS data centre administrator.
During the whole storage process, the back-up data copying is being carried out. Periodically or upon demand, the test scanning of the documents in the storage medium is performed, the aim of which is early detection of malfunction of the storage media or equipment, checking the authenticity of electronic documents (according to the archival approval signature verification results); in the repository, electronic signature checking for their expiration date, and other storage practices and procedures are being carried out.