Overhaul of Federal Record-Keeping Ordered by National Archives and OMB

On August 24, a major overhaul in the way federal departments and agencies manage and preserve their records was ordered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

In a directive to reform records management for the 21st century, NARA and OMB said that all agencies must begin to manage their records, including emails, in electronic format by the end of the decade.

The directive also requires each agency to designate a high-ranking agency official to oversee its records management programs and to ensure that all appropriate staff receive records management training.
Deadlines for complying with various parts of the directive are spread over the coming years.

Among the highlights of the directive issued are:

  • Federal agencies must manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format by December 31, 2019, and must have plans to do so by December 31, 2013.
  • All agencies must manage both permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format by December 31, 2016.
  • NARA will issue updated guidance on managing, disposing of, and transferring email by December 31, 2013.
  • By December 31, 2014, all agencies must have records management training in place for appropriate staff.
  • By this November, each agency must designate a senior agency official to oversee its records management program. The Archivist will convene the first ever meeting of senior agency officials before the end of 2012.

Overall, the directive lists a dozen actions to be taken by NARA and other agencies to assist all Federal departments and agencies in meeting the requirements set forth in the new directive.

Among the most important will be the Archives’ 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.

The directive is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2012/m-12-18.pdf

The Presidential memorandum on managing government records, that was issued last November, is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/28/presidential-memorandum-managing-governm

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