Press/Journalists

Press Release
December 1, 2014

National Archives Welcomes Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014

H.R. 1233 modernizes definition of Federal records to include electronic records

Washington, DC…On November 26th, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1233, the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014. This new law modernizes records management by focusing more directly on electronic records, and complements efforts by the National Archives and the Office of Management and Budget to implement the Presidentís 2011 Memorandum on Managing Government Records.

Major updates to the Presidential and Federal Records Acts include:

  • Strengthening the Federal Records Act by expanding the definition of Federal records to clearly include electronic records. This is the first change to the definition of a Federal record since the enactment of the act in 1950.
  • Confirming that Federal electronic records will be transferred to the National Archives in electronic form.
  • Granting the Archivist of the United States final determination as to what constitutes a Federal record.
  • Authorizing the early transfer of permanent electronic Federal and Presidential records to the National Archives, while legal custody remains with the agency or the President.
  • Clarifying the responsibilities of Federal government officials when using non-government email systems.
  • Empowering the National Archives to safeguard original and classified records from unauthorized removal.
  • Codifying procedures by which former and incumbent Presidents review Presidential records for constitutional privileges. Formerly, this process was controlled by an Executive Order subject to change by different administrations.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero praised the passage of HR 1233:

“We welcome this bipartisan effort to update the nationís records laws for the 21st Century. H.R. 1233 could not have become law without the efforts of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Chairman Issa (R-CA), and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Coburn (R-OK), in shining a spotlight on the challenges that so many Federal agencies and presidential administrations have faced in managing their electronic records.”

Background:

The Federal Records Act of 1950, as amended, establishes the framework for records management programs in Federal Agencies. As the primary agency for records management oversight, the National Archives and Records Administration is responsible for assisting Federal agencies in maintaining adequate and proper documentation of policies and transactions of the Federal Government. This is done by appraising records, regulating and approving the disposition of Federal records, operating Federal Records Centers and preserving permanent records.

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 governs the official records of Presidents and Vice Presidents created or received for all Presidents who come into office after January 20, 1981. This Act changed the legal ownership of the official records of the President from private to public, and established a new statutory structure under which residents must manage the records while in office, and the records automatically transfer into the legal custody of the National Archives when the President leaves office.

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For press information contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

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