Modernizing Records Management

The Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M12-18) charges the National Archives and Records Administration to lead the efforts to modernize records management in the Federal Government.

The Directive focuses on two main goals:

  • agencies will require electronic recordkeeping by managing all their email in an accessible electronic format by the end of 2016 and managing all their permanent records as electronic records by the end of 2019.
  • agencies must demonstrate compliance with all records management laws and regulations.

I talked about the importance of the Directive in a post when it was issued in 2012. Since then, we passed several milestones. Agencies have identified Senior Agency Officials to lead records management in their programs and I have met with them to discuss the challenge and collaborate on solutions. And they have reported on their progress.

Industry Day

Staff members Meg Phillips, Don Rosen, and Chief Records Officer Paul Wester mingle with vendors at “The Managing Government Records Directive: A Grand Challenge for Industry” event in September 2013.

In September, we hosted a successful industry day for the Federal information management community and vendors with automated electronic records management solutions and services. It was an opportunity to meet and discuss the solutions and tools needed to meet the goals of the Directive.

We followed industry day with a request for information, asking vendors to describe records management services and explain how their solutions can help to automate electronic records management. Above all, NARA is trying to assist in a transition to digital government so that government information is more easily accessible to all who need it.

Cheryl McKinnon of Forrester Research wrote about our Managing Government Records Industry Day:

“My take? If you are a software vendor, consultant, records management practitioner, or a software developer looking for inspiration, listen to the videos. There is some important stuff there, with the US federal government demonstrating some true leadership in rethinking the oft-maligned records management software system. What does NARA want? Fresh systems, more automation, and a readiness to divorce from the construct of paper that has limited our progress in tackling e-records.”

We have completed a draft report and plan that describes suitable approaches for the automated management of email, social media, and other types of electronic records. We have also issued updated transfer guidance that greatly expands the number of acceptable electronic formats.

We have issued ground-breaking, new guidance concerning the management of email.  This guidance, called Capstone, will improve agencies’ ability to manage their email in electronic formats. Capstone offers agencies the option of using a simplified and automated approach to managing email, rather than using either print and file systems or records management applications that require staff to file email records individually. I am also proud to note that we at the National Archives are using this approach with our own email records.

We have provided several briefings about Capstone to Federal agencies, and you can view them, too:

For more detailed information about the Directive and our progress, follow our Records Express blog.





One thought on “Modernizing Records Management

  1. We on the Public Interest Declassification Board are pleased that the National Archives is working with agencies and industry to solve the many critical challenges associated with managing electronic records, especially email. We iterated the importance of improving records management across government in our Report to the President on Transforming the Security Classification System and we strongly support the National Archives in its efforts to meet the goals found in the President’s Memorandum on Managing Government Records. There is much work to be done and challenges to overcome. Modernization in records management and declassification must include finding and using technological tools to improve access to these electronic records. We continue to advocate for pilot projects to test technologies that will not only automate current tasks, but will also provide advanced analysis of information to improve search and discovery. As the volumes of information continue to increase and overwhelm agencies, the policy guidance the National Archives provides is critical to a uniform and collective approach to managing this information long-term. We hope that the Capstone approach to email management is a first step and that the National Archives and agencies will continue to work together with industry to identify and implement technologies needed to manage large volumes of email. The Presidential Libraries, for example, will need additional guidance and technological tools to be able to provide future access to their increasingly large volumes of email. As agencies work with the National Archives in planning for Capstone, we hope this process continues to be fully transparent, allows for public comment, and includes appropriate oversight. As agencies continue to accelerate the pace of information creation, the National Archives has a critical role to ensure continued preservation and access to our Nation’s digital history. We are pleased that the National Archives is leading agencies so that all of Government can meet the President’s records management objectives.

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