ARMA International honored two members of Congress as “Champions of Change” at a Congressional reception on October 6 to coincide with the ARMA Live! Annual Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C. The reception was held in a Capitol office building and attended by nearly 80 ARMA members and more than 50 members of Congress and congressional staff.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) was recognized for bringing records management discipline to the state government in North Carolina and for being a major driver of records management discipline in the federal government.
Prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2015, Tillis was a state representative and Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. He started his career as a records management specialist who worked on the scheduling and retention of records, classifying documents, and ensuring property maintenance and disposition.
“Thom Tillis was a member of ARMA International and an officer in the Rock City Chapter in Chattanooga, Tennessee,” noted Susan Whitmire, an ARMA member who introduced the senator and hired him for a position with Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co., now Unum Group, in the early 1980s.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May on the difficulty federal agencies have in complying with the Freedom of Information Act, Tillis “was the only policymaker in the room that could effectively make the connection between effective records management practices and compliance with open government mandates,” Whitmire said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) was also honored for his efforts to modernize the regulations governing the recordkeeping policies and procedures of federal departments and agencies. He is a 10-term representative from Baltimore and the top Democratic member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal records laws.
Cummings was the sponsor of the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014 (H.R. 1233), which was signed into law by President Obama in November 2014. The legislation is intended to make it easier for federal records management professionals to handle the growing volume of electronic communications by changing the focus of the Federal Records Act from the physical characteristics of how a record is preserved to the actual information being stored.
“The Cummings legislation addresses what has been, up until now, a significant amount of the confusion over federal records management policies, practices, and responsibilities, including about how to capture and dispose of e-mails and other electronic messages that may be official records,” said Liz Icenogle, ARMA’s director of government relations.
In a letter to the reception attendees, Cummings wrote, “ARMA International brings much-needed attention to an issue that does not always receive the focus it deserves. I applaud ARMA’s efforts to promote effective records management and to foster innovation in information governance.”