It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law!

On November 26, 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law Public Law No: 113-187, the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014. This new law modernizes records management by focusing more directly on electronic records, and complements efforts by the National Archives to implement the President’s 2011 Memorandum on Managing Government Records.

HR 1233 signature page

Key points of this law include:

  • Strengthening the Federal Records Act by expanding the definition of Federal records to clearly include electronic records. This is the first change to the definition of a Federal record since the enactment of the act in 1950.
  • Confirming that Federal electronic records will be transferred to the National Archives in electronic form.
  • Granting the Archivist of the United States final determination as to what constitutes a Federal record.
  • Authorizing the early transfer of permanent electronic Federal and Presidential records to the National Archives, while legal custody remains with the agency or the President.
  • Clarifying the responsibilities of Federal government officials when using non-government email systems.
  • Empowering the National Archives to safeguard original and classified records from unauthorized removal.
  • Codifying procedures by which former and incumbent Presidents review Presidential records for constitutional privileges.

We welcome this bipartisan effort to update the nation’s records laws for the 21st Century. H.R. 1233 could not have become law without the efforts of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Chairman Issa (R-CA), and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Coburn (R-OK), in shining a spotlight on the challenges that so many Federal agencies and presidential administrations have faced in managing their electronic records.

More information about this legislation, as well as records management policies and guidance, can be found on the Records Express blog, the official blog of the Office of the Chief Records Officer at the National Archives.

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