Overhaul of Federal Record-Keeping Ordered By NARA, Office of Management and Budget
Press Release · Friday, August 24, 2012

Washington, DC

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

In a directive [] that carries out a presidential memorandum [] 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.

“Records are the foundation of open government, supporting the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero and Acting OMB Director Jeffrey D. Zients. “Well-managed records can be used to assess the impact of programs, to improve business processes, and to share knowledge across the Government.”

Ferriero, who heads NARA, and Zients said the directive creates “a robust records management framework that complies with statutes and regulations to achieve the benefits outlined in the Presidential Memorandum.”

“This directive sends a strong message to federal agencies about the importance of electronic records,” Ferriero said. “We look forward to working with agencies throughout the government and our stakeholders to implement its goals.”

Among the highlights of the directive issued today 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.

For further information and discussion about this Directive, please follow the blog of NARA’s Office of the Chief Records officer Records Express [].

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

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