Press/Journalists
Press Release
November 19, 1998
National Archives Endorses Defense Department Standard as Basis for Effective Electronic Records Management

College Park, MD . . . The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) today endorsed the Department of Defense Standard 5015.2 -- Design Criteria for Electronic Records Management Software Applications -- for use across the Federal Government. After a detailed review, NARA has determined that the DoD standard is one approach that can help Federal agencies effectively manage growing quantities of e-mail messages, word-processing documents, and other electronic records.

In a November 18 letter to the Department of Defense, NARA formally endorsed the standard developed by a DoD team that included NARA participation. In a memorandum to Federal records officers issued today, NARA is notifying all federal agencies that the standard conforms with requirements of the Federal Records Act and establishes baseline requirements for managing such records. Deputy Archivist of the United States Lewis Bellardo said that NARA's action "provides a starting point for agencies that want to begin implementing electronic recordkeeping now."

Although NARA is endorsing the standard as one possible approach to managing electronic records, Dr. Bellardo noted that the endorsement is not exclusive. "While the DoD standard is an appropriate basis for records management, there may be other, equally valid ways to address this challenge," Dr. Bellardo said. "NARA is participating in other partnerships which are exploring such alternatives.

NARA's memorandum to records officers also provides cautionary guidance to Federal agencies that are thinking of adopting the DoD standard. The memorandum outlines three principal areas of concern and provides guidance in each area.

Generally speaking, NARA's review found that the standard does not solve all electronic recordkeeping problems by itself. "There are a number of additional questions that must be resolved in order to satisfy all the established requirements for managing federal records," Dr. Bellardo said. "Each agency must address these questions within the context of their own computer and policy environments, such as DoD itself is planning to do by developing a manual of detailed procedures to accompany implementation of any records management software. We look forward to continued collaboration with DoD," Dr. Bellardo continued, "both on addressing these implementation issues and on extending the baseline requirements."

Collaborative work by DoD and NARA is proceeding under an agreement the two agencies reached in December 1997 to work together on records management initiatives. The first step was for NARA to evaluate, as it now has done, the DoD baseline requirements, embodied in its "Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications, DoD 5015.2-STD." Now NARA will work with DoD on issues that arose in the evaluation, on development of operational guidance in the use of the baseline requirements, and on the extension of them. The agreement additionally calls for NARA to review DoD's test and certification program for records management application products. NARA's endorsement of the DoD standard does not currently include an endorsement of the test and certification program or any software products certified under that program. NARA is evaluating the test and certification program and will announce the results of the review when it is completed.

Deputy Archivist Bellardo expressed gratitude for DoD's work and said he looked forward to the next phases of the collaboration: "This is an important step forward toward electronic record keeping in the Federal Government."

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700.

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