In his Memorandum on Managing Government Records, President Obama stated “…proper records management is the backbone of open Government.” The Memorandum began an executive branch wide effort to reform records management policies and practices and required each agency to:
- identify a senior official responsible for records
- provide plans for improving or maintaining its records management program, especially electronic records; and
- suggest obstacles to sound, cost effective management policies and practices
Finally, the Memorandum mandates that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and I issue a Records Management Directive which focuses on:
- creating a Government wide records management framework that is more efficient and cost effective
- promoting records management policies and practices that enhance the capability of agencies to fulfill their statutory missions
- maintaining accountability through documentation of agency actions
- increasing open Government and appropriate access to Government records
- supporting agency compliance with applicable legal requirements related to the preservation of information relevant to litigation; and
- transitioning from paper-based records management to electronic records management where feasible.
I am pleased to report that this morning Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director of OMB and I issued the Managing Government Records Directive. With lots of hard work on the part of National Archives and Records Administration, White House, Federal agency staffs and stakeholder groups, the directive charts new directions for the management of the records of the country.
Among the highlights:
- Federal agencies must manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format by 31 December 2019 and must have plans to do so by 31 December 2013
- All agencies must manage both permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format by 31 December 2016.
- NARA will issue updated guidance on managing, disposing of, and transferring email by 31 December 2013
- All agencies must have records management training in place for appropriate staff by 31 December 2014; and
- NARA will work with the Office of Personnel Management to establish a formal records management occupational series to elevate records management roles, responsibilities, and skill sets for agency records officers and other records professionals.
This is an historic moment for all of us charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the records of the country are being managed in a manner that will allow current and future generations to hold their government accountable and to learn from the past.