Defence moves towards a digital world

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Organizations wanting to reduce their paper footprint can now look to DND and the CAF’s Electronic Image Management (EIM) Programme for guidance on how to legally digitize documents.

The program is part of Defence’s strategy to embrace the digital world and meet the Government of Canada’s guidelines set out in Library and Archives Canada’s Digital by 2017 strategy.

As part of this strategy, DND and the CAF are encouraging all personnel to maximize the use of electronic formats for documents, reduce printing, and digitize paper documents as much as possible. Other initiatives are ongoing to reduce the requirement for printing, such as embracing mobile technology devices like laptops and tablets, and increasing the use of digital authorizations within the Department which reduce the need for printing and ink signatures.

Why digitize?

The advantages of digitization are many:
• Less paper clutter is the way of the future – get on board now!
• It is easier to store, manage, and find digitized information than through the paper original.
• Going digital prepares us for working in the WorkPlace 2.0 environment.
• Less storage and warehouse space required.
• Digitized information is easier to share.
• Digital documents reduce exposure to information-related risks.

Notwithstanding, we still hold a great deal of paper documents, and it is important to understand how to reduce these holdings through a combination of scanning and digitization. The program provides guidance on how to legally digitize paper documents and replace the original with the electronic image. Contrary to what many may believe, hard copy documents can’t just be scanned into an organization’s home drive. The process is more involved than that.

As a first step, you must determine whether the information is a record of business value. For guidance, consult the Guide to Recordkeeping in DND and the CAF or contact your organization’s Information Management Officer. If the information is not of business value, it can be scanned using any multi-function device and stored in any information repository. However, if the information is of business value it must be digitized using the EIM Programme.

Scanning versus digitizing


Scanning provides a digital image of a paper document. Anyone can scan a paper document using a multi-function device and save it for his or her own purpose; however, the hardcopy original must be kept because the scanned image does not meet the rigorous requirements that allow the original to be destroyed. The scanned copy is considered for reference purposes only.

In order to destroy the paper original, the EIM Programme’s certified digitization process must be followed.


Digitization follows a rigorous process, including the use of certified scanning tools, to ensure compliance with the Department’s records disposition authority. Organizations must work with the EIM Programme to implement this process and use the departmental EIM Programme standards.

An image of a paper document, when created following the EIM Programme’s digitization process, overrides the paper original’s reliability, integrity, and authenticity, and is considered admissible evidence in a court of law. This process allows it to become the “source record.”

Ready to get started?

Contact your Information Management Officer to ensure that a certified digitization and destruction process, based on the departmental EIM Programme standards, is in place within your organization. The process will include:
• Ensuring that the paper document is indeed a record that needs to be or can be formally digitized (some records of business value cannot be digitized);
• Having access to the certified equipment to digitize the information;
• Storing the digitized record in an authorized repository such as GCDOCS or RDIMS; and
• Ensuring that you have the appropriate authority to destroy the paper record.

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