Executive Insight

Aug 13, 2013
President Obama’s November 28, 2011 Memorandum – Managing Government Records kicked off an Executive Branch- effort to reform records policies and practices. In the memo, the President emphasized a value proposition those in the field of records management can well appreciate: that “when records are well managed, agencies can use them to assess the impact of programs, to reduce redundant efforts, to save money, and to share knowledge within and across their organizations.” The President went on to say that “In these ways, proper records management is the backbone of open Government.” 

President Obama’s November 28, 2011 Memorandum – Managing Government Records kicked off an Executive Branch- effort to reform records policies and practices. In the memo, the President emphasized a value proposition those in the field of records management can well appreciate: that “when records are well managed, agencies can use them to assess the impact of programs, to reduce redundant efforts, to save money, and to share knowledge within and across their organizations.” The President went on to say that “In these ways, proper records management is the backbone of open Government.” 

In addition to engaging every federal agency in the development of a new government-wide records management framework, the memorandum also attempted to create accountability at the top by requiring every agency to appoint a senior agency official who is expected to coordinate the work of the agency records officer, chief information officer, and general counsel as their roles relate to records management.

Following that memorandum, the Office and Management and Budget (OMB) and National Records and Archives Administration (NARA), as directed by the presidential memorandum, issued the August 24, 2012 Managing Government Records Directive detailing specific goals for the recordkeeping program. The Directive speaks to all Executive Branch departments, agencies, and independent agencies.

Specifically, the Directive established ambitious goals requiring agencies to implement electronic recordkeeping regimes, first to manage both permanent and temporary e-mail records in an accessible electronic format by the end of 2016, and, second, to manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format by the end of 2019. 

By December 31, 2016, federal agencies must retain e-mail records in an appropriate electronic system that “supports records management and litigation requirements.” By December 31, 2019, federal agencies must manage all permanent electronic records “electronically to the fullest extent possible.” It is anticipated that ensuring these records are managed in electronic formats will support the transfer of records to NARA. Of equal interest, the Directive states that agencies should consider “digitizing permanent records created in hard-copy format or other analog formats (e.g., microfiche, microfilm, analog video, analog audio).”

In addition to these goals and consistent with the presidential memorandum, the Directive requires each federal agency to assign its senior agency official to oversee a review of its records management program.  The Directive also requires NARA to issue a “new e-mail guidance” by the end of 2013, identify all agency “cloud initiatives,” determine the feasibility for “secure date-at-rest storage and management services” for agency electronic records, and identify a government-wide analytical tool to “evaluate the effectiveness of records management programs.” This analytical tool is intended to help NARA and individual agencies “measure program compliance more effectively, assess risks, and aid in agency decision-making.”

Finally, the Directive requires the Office of Personnel Management to establish a “formal records management occupational series that will elevate records management roles, responsibilities, and skill sets for agency records officers and other records professionals.”

The Washington Policy Brief is an online advisory that contains brief summaries of recent legislative and regulatory issues that may affect the records and information management profession. Further information about the issue is accessed by clicking on the link provided at the end of each summary.

 

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