Digital administration: e-files at public authorities

In addition to the conversion to electronic patient files in the health care system in Germany and the use of e-billing by public authorities, a law came into force in 2013 that further advances electronic administration at municipalities and public authorities. This is the so-called E-Government Act. In this context, some principles of electronic record keeping and substitute scanning were also laid down.

The focus here is that modern document management is to be implemented in administration and public authorities and paper processes are to be converted to digital processes. The work processes should run quickly and efficiently and be as transparent as possible.

Electronic files in public administration

On the one hand, the introduction of the e-file (electronic file) sets a process of change in motion, but on the other hand it brings a great relief for the municipalities in the longer term. Both employees and citizens wanted more electronic options anyway and also the freedom to simplify and modernise internal work processes through digital channels. And this is only made possible by the conversion to digital files.

All public administrations have thus begun to create the conditions for a complete changeover to electronic processes, also on the basis of the E-Government Act. In this context, the so-called e-file is then introduced.

Concrete example for Germany: Administration and the digitalisation of the federal administration with the „E-Akte Bund“.

Introduction of the e-file

The basis for the implementation of the E-Government Act in public authorities is always a modern document management system (DMS). The processes in municipalities were previously completely adapted to working with paper files. Some processes now have to be adapted. In the meantime, most public authorities have document management systems in place. It is important that these meet the respective individual requirements, i.e. that they really facilitate the work of the employees and that they also meet all certification requirements. So, in addition to companies, many municipalities, administrations, authorities and also the judiciary are now working with the so-called e-file.

One thing is certain: with the coming into force of the E-Government Act, the law for the promotion of electronic administration, the foundation stone was laid for digital communication in the authorities. Above all, this includes the appropriate file format that enables legally compliant archiving of digital documents. The corresponding documents must be available in a uniform format for this purpose. Here, one can mention the file format PDF/A, which is suitable for such a form of archiving.

What exactly is an e-file?

The e-file is more or less the digital counterpart to the paper file. It is a compilation of digital documents whose content contains important official decisions or administrative procedures. The important thing is that documents relevant to the file are brought together in a digital file automatically, in a legally secure manner and without media discontinuity. All processes that belong to a procedure should be documented there.

First of all, an e-file is based on sensible document management. The basic principle of the e-file is that all documents (regardless of their origin) are digitised either directly or by scanning and then stored centrally in an electronic archive. The e-files can then be accessed by any authorised employee and all other documents belonging to the file are also available (as in a paper file). Other documents that are gradually created during a procedure are automatically sorted into the appropriate e-file.

Digitisation of incoming data

All data and documents that an authority or administration receives or which are prepared must be digitised (e.g. scanned) if they are not already available in digital form. All documents are then converted into a uniform data format and filed in the appropriate e-file.

What are the advantages of e-files?

  • Time and location-independent administrative services are possible (working across locations and without media discontinuity)
  • Facilitation of the flow of specialised procedures: DMS solutions make it possible to manage files digitally on platforms
  • Automatic filing in the digital archive is possible
  • Use of intelligent classification is possible: your mail is automatically forwarded to the responsible person in each case
  • The advantage for citizens is that bureaucracy and waiting times can be significantly reduced through electronic processes.
  • The e-file is only available to authorised employees – rights and access management is simple and clearly regulated
  • Access and exchange of information is very quick and easy
  • Contents can be found much more quickly and easily via digital search than with paper files.
  • The information is no longer personalised, but all authorised employees can view and use the e-file in parallel. Added to this is the fact that a lot of space and paper can be saved.
  • Several types of documents such as text documents, scans, letters, invoices or e-mails can be bundled in one file.
  • E-files also have the advantage that deadlines and access authorisations can be reliably regulated electronically.
  • An additional advantage comes into play when using a server-based solution such as webPDF: Documents can be easily converted and transferred to an archiving system. Municipal employees can file documents across departments. As soon as a notice or document is printed, it is created in parallel as an e-file and archived as a PDF.


The e-file is the only solution for public authorities to meet digital requirements. On the one hand, they have to cope with the growing flood of data and at the same time work legally compliant and efficiently in compliance with e-government laws.

Case studies on the implementation of digital personnel files in our blog

In the past, together with our partners, we have already implemented projects for the introduction of digital files/personal files for companies and public authorities. As a basis for the conversion and implementation of PDF/A requirements, webPDF is used as a central PDF server for the creation and processing of PDF documents. You can find suitable examples here in our blog:

More on the topic of E-Government in our blog: