NARA Publishes First Round of Agencies’ E-mail Records Reporting

    May 08, 2017

    As reported on FederalNewsRadio.com, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently published federal agency records management reports, including reports on how agencies manage their e-mails.

    “Overall, at this point, the results are trending positive,” said Laurence Brewer, chief records officer for the federal government. “Most agencies have taken action, but there is still a way’s to go in many areas, including policy promulgation, systems implementation, and — important for NARA — transferring email to our agency for permanent preservation.”

    President Obama’s 2011 directive on managing government records set forth certain requirements for the management of e-mail as records:

    “Email records must be retained in an appropriate electronic system that supports records management and litigation requirements (which may include preservation-in-place models), including the capability to identify, retrieve and retain the records for as long as they are needed. Beginning one year after issuance of this directive, each agency must report annually to [the Office of Management and Budget] and NARA the status of its progress toward this goal.”

    In their reports, federal agencies answered questions on usability and retrievability of e-mails, establishment of retention schedules, categorization of e-mails, and the general state of their e-mail policies.

    The maximum number of points for these four questions is 16. NARA achieved a top score because, according to its records officer, e-mails are easily and fully retrievable for requests, and employees are trained to manage them.

    Agencies also received a maturity model score that determined whether the agency is at low, moderate, or high risk for not managing e-mail effectively.

    Immigrations and Customes Enforcement (ICE), for one, received a score that indicated it has a high risk of not managing e-mail effectively. ICE claimed the questions “were poorly worded and did not allow for a proper response, forcing us to answer inaccurately regarding our agency’s email management efforts.”

    The full agency reports can be viewed on this NARA site.


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