recommended reading

Paper Records Can Be Tracked Too


The Education Department’s contracting arm is investigating new ways to track paper documents even when regulations, security concerns or other technological limitations mean that those documents can’t be digitized, solicitation documents show.

The immediate goal is to track about 2,000 contracting files that are on paper, according to a request for information posted Thursday. The department is aiming to reduce its reliance on paper but expects it will have to maintain hard copies of many files for the next several years and some sensitive files forever, the document said.

The government’s struggle to move away from paper-based systems for information storage and citizen services has received significant attention in the past several weeks, spurred in large part by the uproar over the Veterans Affairs Department’s disability claims backlog. That backlog of paper-based benefit requests has not only forced veterans to wait a year or more for their claims to be evaluated, but it is threatening the structural integrity of a Veterans Benefits Administration office in North Carolina.

The public conversation has focused mainly on digitizing information rather than improving the tracking of paper files.

Education officials are looking into attaching Radio Frequency Identification tags to paper documents, but the department isn’t limiting the products it will consider at this point. RFID tags are essentially complex barcodes that that can transmit information using radio waves from a greater distance than traditional barcodes.

The State Department uses RFID technology in its new generation of e-passports. U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses RFID for trusted traveler programs at land borders.

The Education Department is looking for technology that can tack both a contract file’s location and the identity of the person who last accessed that file, according to the solicitation document.

The document is a request for information, which means the department is only surveying the field of possible vendors and hasn’t committed yet to purchasing any new technology. 

(Image via Garsya/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.