In the modern digital times, the elaboration of the already existing, as well as the development of the new organisation and optimisation models for institutions is aimed at the beneficial use of the economic and social value of information (including documents). In this case, we deal not only with the management of various documents, but also with the issues related to the interoperability of different information systems, designed for the management of such documents. Efficient performance of the public institutions while implementing their general functions, including document management, is considered to be an element of their successful activity. And this quite a challenge for public institutions.
E-documents as part of the state information resources
State information resources shall mean the totality of information managed by the institutions in performing their functions provided for in the laws and information technologies measures for processing this information. State information resources shall be:
1) state information resources of critical importance. They are made up of information important for the entire State processed by the state information systems and the main state registers and of the state information systems and the main state registers processing this information;
2) important state information resources. They are made up of information important for several institutions processed by the state information systems and state registers and of the state information systems and state registers processing this information;
3) state information resources of departmental importance. They are made up of information important for one institution processed by the state information systems and departmental registers and of the state information systems and departmental registers processing this information;
4) other state information resources. They are comprised of information managed by the institution when performing internal administration functions and processed by other information systems as well as the information system processing this information. The procedure of establishment, creation, modernization and liquidation of the information systems referred to in this subparagraph shall be established by the institutions authorized by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter - the Government).
Internal administration functions are related to the organisation of the institutional activities, personnel and finance management, as well as the document management. Hence, the document management, as a field of the administration of state institutions, includes creation of documents, their arrangement, registration, and storage. Therefore, it is clearly linked to the management of the state information resources, as well as the infrastructure established for the management of such resources.
Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania seeks to achieve that electronic documents are to be considered an integral part of the state information resources.
Various issues related to electronic documents in Lithuania are within the sphere of inter-departmental concern: as the responsibility for e-Government and e-signature issues is dispersed, there is no single institution responsible for the proper handling of these matters.
Shaping of the general policy in the use of the state information resources is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of the Interior within their competences.
Implementation of the general policy of the electronic signature use is within the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
Supervision of the electronic signature is within the responsibility of the Communications Regulatory Authority.
Development and implementation of the IRT infrastructure as well as IRT innovations in the electronic content is within the responsibility of the Information Society Development Committee under the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
Electronic document means 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. Inconformity with the existing practice, the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania is responsible for the preparation and coordination of electronic document specifications, which is a document which prescribes technical features of the e-document signed by electronic signature as well as its characteristics and functions. Hence, the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania is often involved in the solution of problems related not only to the electronic documents, but also to the regulation or use of different electronic signature formats.
Legal acts regulating the development of the electronic document specifications, as well as electronic document specifications themselves or the requirements for the management of such documents promote the interrelation of the information systems in many aspects. As a rule, the following levels of interoperability can be defined: functional interoperability of the specific system with another one; semantic interoperability (uniformity of meanings); legal interoperability, and organisational interoperability. The interoperability of the software with the metadata is relevant as well. It is also important to provide for the possibility to transfer of electronic documents from one information system to another in a reliable way. In Lithuania, from the aspect of electronic documents, we can speak about the interoperability on the level of documents (their formats), which is closely related to the aspects of legal, systemic and organisational interoperability.
Since electronic documents can be received from abroad, it is necessary to solve the problem of interoperability on the document level not only in the national, but also in the international context. The provisions of Chapter 8 of the Directive on Services can serve as an example. In conformity with this document, all the EU member states are required to ensure that all formal procedures, related to the right for service provision and the implementation of such right, could be easily effectuated in the distant operations way and with the use of electronic tools, via a contact centre. In order to facilitate the implementation of the above provisions, as well as the interrelation of the information systems of the EU member states and the accomplishment of the procedures with the use of the electronic tools, the Decision of the European Commission No. 2011/130/ES (replaced by No. 2014/148/ES) was adopted on 25 February 2011. The document provides for the obligation to receive and verify electronic signature in XAdES, PAdES, CAdES formats. However, this document was more oriented to the verification of the electronic signature, not to the creation of electronic documents.
Some aspects of the concept of electronic documents and their management in Lithuania
IT experts define two electronic document lines based on ZIP and PDF containers. It is believed that a document model based on the ZIP container is rather universal, as there are practically no restrictions to the document context formats. Therefore, the solution to the problem of interoperability in the field of document management in Lithuania is believed to be found in the document format based on the ZIP container.
In Lithuania, the document model, as defined in legal acts, outlines its structure (content, metadata and electronic signatures). Such model is based on the standards, applied to open formats and electronic signatures as well as recommendations. According to the provisions of legal acts, documents produced and managed by public sector institutions are to be in conformity with the electronic document specifications, approved by or coordinated with the Chief Archivist of Lithuania.
Presently, there are three valid specifications:
ADOC V-1.0 – electronic documents, signed electronically in XAdES-EPES, XAdES-T, XAdES-C, XAdES-X, XAdES-X-L and XAdES-A formats, are equalled to the written documents (orders, official letters, etc.). Documents of this specification can be processed with the help of the freely distributed tool and user’s interface in the English and French languages (Internet access at: https://signa.mitsoft.lt/signa-web/app/index.html/ln/en).
MDOC – electronically signed and computer readable electronic document format, which content or part of its content could be read by the computer. Such document formats are used by the State Tax Inspectorate under the Ministry of Finance in the tax declaration system (Internet access at: http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=380050&p_tr2=2).
EGAS – electronically signed computer readable documents (one of the sub-types of the MDOC specification), used in the Electronic Social Security (SODRA) residence service system (Internet access at: http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=454626).
Documents corresponding to the above mentioned specifications should be used for developing new document management information systems. Description of procedure of the establishment, creation, update and liquidation of information systems, pertaining to the document management, defines the requirements for the establishment of such a system. From the aspect of the document management and system interoperability, it is important that the institutions, involved in the development of such systems or management of electronic documents, closely observe the requirements as defined in the Regulations of Electronic Document Management. These Regulations indicate that documents produced by the public sector have to meet the requirements of particular specifications (like content format and other). There is a special infrastructure created for electronic documents that meet the requirements of the specifications. The infrastructure embraces functional feasibility of document management systems in the appropriate institutions, as well as transfer of electronic documents to the Electronic Archives Information System (EAIS) of the state archives for long term or permanent storage. This system was designed in 2011 with the approach that the main function of archives is accumulation of original, authentic documents. EAIS, as the main tool of the archives, corresponds to such approach.
It should be mentioned that electronic documents are transferred to the above mentioned system with valid signatures. Having in mind that IT experts consider supplementing the electronic signature with XAdES-X-L format as one of the most reliable way to ensure the validity of the electronic signature, the institutions transferring documents for storage in the archives have the responsibility to supplement their electronic documents with XAdES-X-L format.
Specifications and their application to the electronic documents that are equalled to the written documents
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion regarding the application of specifications of the electronic documents equalled to the written documents.
Interoperability of the electronic documents signed by the electronic signature enables the transfer of the electronic document created in one system into any other system, where it can be verified for authenticity and suitability for the long-term preservation, if the software of the set wo systems corresponds to the requirements for the creation and testing of the electronic documents determined by the Specification
The implementation of the model does not depend on the software alone. It could be realised with the use of different tools, or different libraries and platforms, which facilitate the compatibility of various information systems.
Presently, efforts are made in Lithuania to evaluate the compatibility of electronic documents, based on the ADOC specification, with the electronic document formats used for processing of electronic documents in other countries (e.g. Baltic States). The main concern is to ensure the compatibility of the ADOC and other specifications (e.g., BDOC), based on the ASiC standard approved by the ETSI. This standard mainly deals with the packaging and the two formats (XAdES and CAdES) of the electronic in signature.
It is necessary to mention what exactly is defined as an electronic document in Lithuania. Under the necessity to exchange documents with other countries, we suggest to focus on the aspects of interoperability. With the aim to ensure the conformity of the ADOC specification to the existing international regulations and with the view of the possible exchange of such documents on the international level, we are aware how important it is for ADOC specification correspond to the requirements, defined in the ASiC Baseline Profile standard. The above requirements are related to both electronic signature and containers. This is exactly one of the tasks for its exchange, as at the moment the ADOC V-2.0 project is in the preparation phase (Internet access at: http://www.lrs.lt/pls/proj/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=260483&p_fix=n&p_gov=n). For example, baseline profileattribute is going to be “Time of signing”, since other countries do not use the time marks yet. For us the time of signing is excessive: according to the Asics standard, the type of document should be ASIC, though it is indicated as ADOC based on the existing specification. The change of the indicated type of document from ADOC to Asics would ensure a higher level of compatibility. However, the compatibility of Asics Level 7 does not require it.
According to the existing legal acts, each country can have their national specification. If the EU legal acts do not insist on the introduction of standard documents, it is assumed that it is not worth to refuse national specification. Consequently, Lithuania is not going to waive specifications while regulating electronic document management. Information technologies are likely to solve the interoperability problems.
Discussions regarding the electronic documents in pdf format, signed by the electronic signature in PAdES format (the model is based on the pdf container) came into force in Lithuania in 2010. The emergence of such specification would determine the situation in Lithuania when two specifications (based on zip container and pdf container), not just one, were applied to electronic documents equalled to the written documents. In Lithuania, the requirement for business companies and public institutions, engaged in the state register management (e.g. real estate), is the creation of basic electronic documents (the main document with optional supplements) in pdf format. It is believed that there have to be 2 levels of requirements (A and B) established. This would serve as a basis for creation and verification of the electronic document in pdf format. (The document created in conformity with the B Level requirements would be distinguished for the absence of any compulsory metadata, except for the signature metadata. This document could be supplemented with the necessary data if we want it to correspond to the A Level requirements.)
We are not familiar with the electronic document based on pdf format in other countries. The purpose of PDF-LT is to define the electronic document in pdf file format and based on the PAdES electronic signature format. A working group, formed by the Chief Archivist of Lithuania in 2011, has already drafted the initial PDF-LT-VI.0 project, which came in force 29 August, 2014 (Internet access at: http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=480374&p_tr2=2)
Development of the platform for interrelation of state information resources
A special infrastructure has been created for the management of the state information resources. The Platform for the Interrelation of the State Information Resources (PISIR) is a state information system. The purpose of this system is to ensure the possibility for the people to receive public and administrative electronic services, provided by various institutions, at “one window”.
PISIR has been developed as a cloud computing system for service provision with the help of special software and hardware in order to provide services on all levels – on infrastructure, platform or applications level. At present, the functions performed by PISIR and the services provided by this system do not embrace the required functional ability. However, the implementation of the centralised service of the electronic document management within the PISIR infrastructure is planned for the summer of 2015. The supporting functions, like level of service, resources, users, safe management, required to ensure the functioning of such service, would be implemented with the help of the already implemented PISIR service management software. The employment of the service of the electronic document management in the PISIR technological environment would result in the expansion of PISIR on the application level and more efficient use of the PISIR resources. Also, the service of electronic document management would function with proper links, they will be faster and would gain other advantages characteristic to other systems, operating in the same technological environment.
We expect that the development of the service of electronic document management would induce the exchange of entirely electronic documents within the public sector, as has been promoted by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. In 2012 and 2013, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania resolved (in the form of the minutes of their meetings) that all institutions with electronic document management systems are to exchange entirely electronic documents since 1 January 2014. Presently, approximately 80 institutions (excluding their branches which use the same system) can exchange documents corresponding to the ADOC specification. The above mentioned service would be of use for small institutions which do not have the document management system.
Reliable delivery of electronic documents
When addressing the issues related to the use of different formats of electronic documents, we have to keep in mind that information systems will be transferring those documents to other information systems. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure the reliable mode of the transfer. One of the most common ways of document delivery is email. This mode of electronic document transfer is convenient and widely spread. However, it is not very suitable for the safe and reliable transfer of electronic documents, as a reliable conformation of the receipt of the document to the sender is missing.
In order to solve this problem, there was an electronic document delivery system designed in Lithuania (https://epristatymas.post.lt). It enables a user to deliver electronic documents fast and easy from home. This way of delivery of electronic documents has been legally regulated, and its legal and evidential validity is equal to the registered postal delivery.
Problems and future prospects
In Lithuania, the greatest attention is paid to the issues related to the concept of digital-born documents, application of specifications, and security of the electronic signature.
Moreover, state archives, making use of the functionality of the Electronic Archives Information System, create and ensure access to the electronic documents as well as digital images of documents, preserved in the state archives.
However, the process of elaborating the developing digital archives leads us to other possible objects of digital archives, still awaiting our attention: data from websites, geographical systems, etc.
Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania
Head of Documents and Archives Management Division
ASiC standard – TS 102 918 v1.3.1. Electronic Signatures and Infrastructures (ESI); Associated Signature Containers (ASiC), ETSI, 2013.
ETSI TS 103 174 V2.2.1 Electronic Signatures and Infrastructures (ESI);ASiC Baseline Profile.