NAGARA-CoSA 2012: NARA’s Directive for Federal Record-Keeping

This article is the fifth and final in a series of our takeaways from 2012 NAGARA-CoSA Annual Conference.

By Erica Wilson, Government Information Analyst

Last December, we posted an article about the presidential memorandum regarding records management for federal agencies, the first such memorandum to address records management since Harry S. Truman’s presidency.  At the 2012 NAGARA-CoSA Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, Meg Phillips, Electronic Records Lifecycle Coordinator for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), gave a presentation detailing the development and issuance of a records management directive for federal agencies and a report to the President summarizing updates to laws, regulations, and policies regarding federal records management.

The directive contains two parts: part one features two high-level goals for agencies with seven action items/deadlines and part two contains three sections outlining 14 action items that NARA and oversight agencies will complete to assist agencies accomplish the two high-level goals.

The first goal is to require electronic recordkeeping to ensure transparency, efficiency, and accountability.  By asking agencies to commit to the transition to a digital government, the federal government will be able to reduce costs in the long term.  The second goal is to require that agencies demonstrate compliance with federal records management statutes and regulations.  To achieve this, agencies must designate a Senior Agency Official (SAO) to supervise an assessment of their records management program.  The SAO will work with the Agency Records Officer to make certain that permanent records are identified for transfer to NARA, that a records management training program is established to inform employees of their records management responsibilities, and that records are properly scheduled.

In the second part of the directive, NARA details the 14 action items to be taken to help reach the aforementioned goals.  Some of those goals are:

  • to create new email guidance;
  • embed records management requirements into cloud architectures;
  • create a Community of Interest (COI) to solve records management challenges;
  • establish a formal records management occupational series; and
  • overhaul the general records schedules.

While these changes do not affect state and local governments directly, it is important to note that what happens at the federal level often trickles down to state and local levels.  Opportunities may arise for state and local governments to strengthen and improve records management programs based on the memorandum and the directive.

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