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NITC 5-301: Use of Computer-based Fax Services by State Government Agencies

Category: Groupware Architecture
Applicability: Standard for all state government agencies, excluding higher education
History: Adopted on September 30, 2003. Amended November 30, 2009.

1. Standard

State agencies needing computer-based fax services, including desktop and application based faxing, will use the "OCIO Internet Fax System" maintained and hosted by the Office of the CIO.

This standard does not apply to the use of stand-alone fax machines connected directly to a telephone line.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this standard is to provide state government agencies a technical solution for sending and receiving electronic faxes directly from computers.

2.1 Background

Sending Faxes - The traditional method for sending a fax is to scan a printed copy into a fax machine and manually entering a phone number to transmit a copy to an external fax machine. This method consumes staff time when copies must be sent to multiple destinations. Sequential transmissions to a large number of recipients can take too much time in an emergency situation.

An alternative method for faxing documents is the use of a high-capacity, state-run fax server activated directly from a computer. The sender never leaves the workstation and can fax documents directly from the email system. The body of the email can include a wide array of attachment formats.

Destination fax numbers can be stored in the email address book. Group lists can be used for mass distribution. Multiple destination fax machines can be contacted at the same time to reduce the total time to deliver information in an emergency situation.

Receiving Faxes - The traditional method for receiving faxes is to have incoming faxes printed at a local fax machine. An attendant watches for incoming faxes and manually routes the document to the intended user. Photocopies must be produced manually when the information needs to be routed to several people.

A fax server routes incoming faxes to an email inbox where the information can be reviewed for distribution. This electronic image can be forwarded to multiple email addresses without the need for printing or photocopying. An added benefit of receiving electronic fax images is that the image can be copied into a document management system for processing without the need for scanning the printed faxes.

Fax Server - A fax server is a computer connected to a network that uses a pooled collection of phone lines for users to send and receive faxes. The state run electronic fax server system, called "OCIO Internet Fax System," is available for use by agencies within state government.