On November 28, 2011, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum entitled Managing Government Records, initiating “an Executive Branch-wide effort to reform records management policies and practices” of agencies by developing a “21st-century framework for the management of Government records.” To achieve this objective, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the United States Archivist released the Managing Government Records Directive on August 24, 2012. Applicable to all executive agencies and all records, regardless of security classification or other restrictions, the directive requires government agencies to eliminate paper and use electronic recordkeeping, among other things.
The directive sets two target dates by which agencies must meet the electronic recordkeeping requirements:
- By December 31, 2016, Federal agencies will manage permanent and temporary email records in an electronic format. This format must support records management and litigation requirements, as well as the capability to “identify, retrieve, and retain the records for as long as they are needed.” In addition, agencies must report annually to OMB and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) the status of their progress toward the electronic recordkeeping goal.
- By December 31, 2019, Federal agencies will manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format.
While agencies are expected to comply with these deadlines, only an estimated 81% have hit the 2016 email electronic format compliance goal so far. In light of this, Laurence Brewer, the Federal chief records officer at NARA, explained in a 2016 FCW interview that “[t]here really isn’t a finish line…[i]t’s one of those targets where agencies will continue to work on it, and we’re going to continue to work with agencies.” He further explained that NARA sought to collaborate and work with agencies in their records management issues and efforts rather than punish them for missing a deadline.
According to agency self-reporting data, a projected 95% of agencies will meet the 2019 electronic records management deadline. For this to happen, agencies should start planning and implementing strategies now to successfully convert to a comprehensive electronic recordkeeping system. 2019 is fast approaching.
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