On November 28, 2011, President Obama signed the “Presidential Memorandum – Managing Government Records.” This marked the beginning of an Executive Branch-wide effort to reform records management policies and practices and to develop a new framework for the management of records. The primary benefits expected of this effort include an improved performance and promotion of openness and accountability by better documenting agency actions and decisions as well as a move toward minimizing costs and operating more efficiently.
The important question is what does the directive tell us about sound records management approaches in general – both in the public and the private sector?
Here are the specifics of the mandate:
- By 11/15/2012, agencies must designate a Senior Agency Official (SAO).
- By 12/31/2013, SAO shall ensure that Permanent Records are identified for transfer and reported to NARA (National Archives and Records Administration).
- By 12/31/2014, agency Records Officers must obtain NARA Certificate of Federal Records Management Training.
- By 12/31/2014, agencies must establish Records Management Training.
- By 12/31/2016, SAO shall ensure that records are scheduled.
- By 2016, Federal agencies will manage both permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format.
- By 2019, Federal agencies will manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format.
A couple of points of clarification:
- This mandate only applies to Federal Government agencies; however, it is expected to eventually flow down to state governments as well (it’s just not mandated yet).
- The SAO designation is a high level, strategic effort to identify electronic information as the key information in an organization. This strategic direction will have and is having an impact in the private sector as well (the same type of roadmap is also expected to generally apply to private companies). This position is being formalized and there will be further developments regarding training and certification.
The Directive reinforces that:
- Records and Information Management is strategic, not just tactical.
- The creation of a formal occupational series for records management employees will elevate the responsibilities and skill sets of agency records officers.
- Agencies are to eliminate paper and use electronic record-keeping as much as possible.
- Agencies are to consider records management issues when using cloud computing services for data storage.
- Collaboration with key stakeholders is a fundamental requirement.
- People, process, and technology are partners in success.
- Change management cannot be ignored.