US Issues Memo on Government Records

27 August 2012

The Obama administration Aug. 24 issued a memorandum on managing government records,  with President Obama stating “…proper records management is the backbone of open Government.” 

Among other things, the memorandum will require all agencies 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.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the Managing Government Records Directive.

Among the highlights, the archivist wrote in a blog post:

  • 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.

Commenting on the memo, wrote:  “There is much for the open government community to like in the Directive: a requirement that agencies designate a senior official to oversee records management and an emphasis on managing records in the cloud, for example. And there is one big thing for open government advocates to not like: deadlines that mean it will be many more years before we can say with any certainty that federal government agencies are not improperly destroying or otherwise losing records.”

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