National Archives Issues Draft Report on Open Source Tools for Federal Records Managers

    Feb 10, 2015

    The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in January released a draft report that provides open source tools and technology to help federal agencies automate records management duties.  The report was produced in response to a requirement in the 2012 Managing Government Records Directive, which requires the Federal Chief Information Officers Council, the Federal Records Council, and NARA to obtain, by the end of December 2014, external involvement for the development of open source records management solutions.

    “This item actively encourages us to work with agencies to review and identify open source tools for records management tasks,” said NARA’s Beth Cron, a records policy analyst, in a January 20 blog posting. “To kickstart this discussion, we’ve compiled a selection of open source tools that could be used for various records management functions.”

    Overall, the directive requires federal agencies to manage both permanent and temporary e-mail records in an electronically accessible format by the end of 2016, as well as by the end of 2019 to preserve all of the government's permanent electronic records created after that date in a digital format for transfer to NARA.

    “The use of tools and technology could assist agencies in automating records management tasks,” the draft report states. “This will not only reduce the burden of records management responsibilities on individuals, but will make Federal government records and information easier to access because they are more consistently managed.”

    NARA requested feedback on the draft report by January 30 from records management and information technology staff in federal agencies, as well as developers in the open source community and any other interested parties. NARA wanted to know if agencies used the available tools, and if they are looking to develop additional tools to address current and future needs.

    In her blog post, Cron noted the report only focuses on available open source tools and that NARA would not be developing any solutions on its own.

    “The next step will be to engage the Federal Records Council, the Federal Records Officer Network (FRON), and the ERM Automation Working Group to work through practical aspects of procurement and support of open source software in agencies,” the draft report states. “We will be moving this discussion to the ERM Automation Wiki hosted on Max.gov where agencies will be able to share their experiences and best practices for deployment and possibly improved versions of software that could be used by other agencies.”


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