Federal Records Management

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about NARA’s Agency Records Officer Credential Training and Renewal Policy (NARA Bulletin 2019-02)

September 23, 2020


NARA Bulletin 2019-02 communicates significant changes in the way Federal Agency Records Officers (ARO) obtain and maintain their records management credentials. The Bulletin describes the replacement of NARA’s Certificate of Federal Records Management Training to the new Agency Records Officer Credential (AROC) and establishes the requirement for Agency Records Officers to periodically renew the credential. While the Bulletin covers the key changes to the credentialing program, this FAQ provides answers to follow-on questions and concerns raised by the Federal records management community.

1. Why did NARA determine this change in credentialing was needed?

NARA re-structured the Records Management Training Program to focus on delivering content online and without cost to the Federal records management community. NARA determined the Records Management Training Program would only allow AROs officially designated by the Senior Agency Official for Records Management (SAORM) to complete AROC training and tests. (Anyone may access additional training online.) Also, the new AROC credential includes tracking information on the credential holders and a periodic renewal process to ensure AROs keep abreast of Federal records management developments, such as new policies, regulations, guidance, and best practices.

2. Why is the AROC only offered to the SAORM-designated Agency Records Officers?

AROs are operationally responsible for their agency’s records management program. OMB and NARA issued a joint memorandum, “Transition to Electronic Records” (OMB/NARA M-19-21) on June 28, 2019, which states in Section 1.4 that the designated ARO is responsible for annually informing all agency personnel of their records management responsibilities. While NARA will only track the credential for AROs, all of the training content is freely available on NARA’s records management training website for anyone else to use.

3. Is NARA going to help AROs by providing training materials in the future?

Yes. The Records Management Training Program staff are available to answer questions about NARA-provided training materials and advise on what training materials are appropriate for your agency needs. In addition, they can help you design records management training tailored for your agency through Records Management Instruction Support (ReMIS) activities. Contact rmt1@nara.gov to set up a meeting with NARA Records Management Training staff.

4. Why is NARA not considering any exemptions or exceptions from AROC training? 

NARA’s focus is on ensuring AROs are knowledgeable about current records and information management policies, regulations, and trends as they apply to Federal agencies. Although NARA recognizes and values external records management expertise, the NARA Records Management Training Program mission is to ensure all AROs consistently receive specific and relevant training on Federal records management requirements and practices.

Current AROs who were awarded the Certificate of Federal Records Management Training before January 1, 2020 do not need to take a renewal examination until they are notified by the Training Program that their credential is due for renewal.  

5. Why such a short renewal period (3 years)? 

NARA determined that periodic retesting at the end of the three-year cycle would be an effective and consistent measure of Federal records management knowledge.

6. Does the ARO’s supervisor need to be credentialed?

No. The ARO is the accountable official responsible for records management operations in the agency. The ARO’s supervisor may obtain records management knowledge by taking advantage of the offerings at the NARA Records Management Training Program web page.

7. Will NARA provide an online resource or website where AROs can track when they need to be re-credentialed? 

NARA is looking into the possibility of including this information on the publicly posted ARO contact list. In the meantime, AROs may contact rmt1@nara.gov for this information. 

8. Does the AROC credential just apply to Executive Branch Agency Records Officers – or does it also apply to the Judicial Branch and Legislative Branch Agency Records Officers?

The AROC credential is required for all AROs working in Federal agencies covered by the Federal Records Act, which includes judicial and legislative branch agencies. NARA encourages, as a best practice, agencies not covered by the FRA to have an AROC-credentialed records officer. NARA maintains a list of AROs and their contact information.

9. What if an ARO does not maintain their credential? 

NARA will engage leadership at the applicable department or agency, and also potentially with OMB, to discuss compliance with this OMB/NARA requirement.

10. Is an ARO’s AROC credential still valid and in good standing during the grace period at the end of the three years?

Yes. NARA Records Management training staff will contact each ARO within 6 months of their AROC renewal date to begin the renewal process.

11. Is there a waiting period before re-taking a test that you failed?

No. There is no waiting period.

12. Will NARA provide further communication about AROC credential requirements?

Yes. NARA is planning periodic communications such as AC Memos, Records Express blog posts, emails, and other updates.

13. Whom do I contact for more information?

NARA maintains a Records Management Training page which includes the following information:

  • Training Materials Catalog; 
  • Training Development Content; 
  • Webinars; 
  • Records Management Instruction Support (ReMIS); and
  • Agency Records Officer Credential (AROC).

If you have questions about any part of NARA Bulletin 2019-02: Agency Records Officer Credential Training and Renewal Policy, please contact us at rmt1@nara.gov.