Almost 7 years ago, President Obama signed the Presidential Memorandum – Managing Government Records with a 2019 deadline for Federal Agencies to be managing all permanent records in electronic format. Similar to another Obama Directive to the healthcare industry, this Directive guides Federal Agencies away from manual intensive paper practices, in exchange for more efficient PaperLESS procedures and a digital government. Applicable to all executive Agencies, without regard to security classification or restriction, the policy extends to all records in all media formats, including paper, microfiche, microfilm, maps, drawings, photos and books. Simply creating policies for this Directive was a sizeable task, but it pales in comparison to the EXTENSIVE amount of work required by each Agency to digitize their permanent records.
The focus of the Presidential Directive (M-12-18) follows best practices that any organization would hope to achieve; creating an efficient and cost-effective framework for records management, promoting records management practices that help achieve each agency’s mission, visible accountability through documentation, fostering open Government and Public Access, supporting compliance of information preservation, and transitioning from paper-based to electronic systems. The focus of the Directive is spot on but begs the question of whether agencies have the staffing, tools or budget to be electronic in such a short timeframe.
Fortunately, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has been tasked to support Federal Agencies in their move to PaperLESS. As a part of their own Strategic Plan, NARA is developing procedures and guidelines to assist Agencies in this transition to electronic and uphold the Presidential Directive. Notable aspects of NARA’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan include;
- Goal 2.4 Provide Federal agencies with digitization guidance and “success criteria” for managing electronic records. (Criteria for Successfully Managing Permanent Electronic Records)
- Goal 2.4 Develop Federal records management requirements and work with Federal and commercial vendors to incorporate the requirements into software applications and cloud offerings.
- Goal 3.1 By FY 2019, NARA will conduct inspections of records management practices at 10 percent of Federal agencies per year, to ensure that Federal email and other permanent electronic records are being managed in an electronic format.
- Goal 3.2 By December 31, 2022, NARA will, to the fullest extent possible, no longer accept transfers of permanent or temporary records in analog formats and will accept records only in electronic format and with appropriate metadata.
The level of impact varies from Agency to Agency and Department to Department but this Directive is sure to affect every Federal employee in some fashion. Collectively, the size of this task is overwhelming and each individual and Department can help make progress towards the goal. Departments continuing with their traditional paper-based methodologies pose a risk to their Agency falling embarrassingly short of the goal and even those Departments taking moderate action could come up short. A full PaperLESS intervention is required and this late in the game, finding an outsourced GSA Records Services Provider may be a viable solution.
Do you need help achieving the 2019 deadline for your Department or Agency?