Federal Records Management

NWM 12.2011

April 7, 2011


On Monday, May 2, 2011, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will issue its annual Records Management Self-Assessment (RMSA) to Federal agency records officers. The questionnaire contains questions derived from Federal records management regulations in 36 CFR Chapter XII, Subchapter B and NARA guidance.

Under 44 U.S.C. 2904(c) the Archivist has the authority and responsibility to conduct research to improve records management practices and programs, to inspect agency records management programs and practices, and report the results of these activities to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and to Congress. This self-assessment is designed to help NARA fulfill its oversight responsibilities by evaluating Federal records management programs and identifying areas of weakness that are placing Federal records at serious risk. As agency records officers, you can use the self-assessment to help your program determine areas for improvement.

Completion and submission of the self-assessment is mandatory. As your agency's primary records management contact, you have been designated to receive the self-assessment for your agency. If you are not the correct point-of-contact for this response, please notify us no later than April 15, 2011, so that we may update this information.

On Monday, May 2, we will send you a "RM Communications" e-mail with a link to go to our online service provider to enter your agency's data. For security reasons, this link cannot be forwarded to other individuals for response, so it is imperative that we have the correct point-of-contact. You will have until Friday, June 3, to enter your data. The link will become non-operational at that time, and we will be unable to accept submissions through the online system after June 3. However, please note that you will be able to request changes to your response through cob Friday, June 17, 2 weeks after the online system is closed. Any changes must be sent to rmselfassessment@nara.gov. We will not accept any changes after June 17.

For the 2010 RMSA, we began the practice of identifying what we see as critical topics in Federal records management, and we structured a set of questions accordingly. In 2010 we focussed on records management training. For 2011 the special topics are agencies' oversight of their records management practices and transferring permanent records to NARA.

Additionally, for the 2011 RMSA, we have established a suite of "core" questions that we will include in consistent fashion in every future survey. Your agency will receive two scores, one for your answers to the overall survey and one for the core questions exclusively. This breakout will allow agencies to use data from these core questions to chart progress over a period of years.

Finally, following GAO recommendations and our own guidance, we will perform more validation work on the 2011 responses than we did in the first two surveys. In support of this we will request more documentation than in the past - records management directives, transfer documentation, and more -- to support your answers to specific questions. After the survey is closed and we have gone through some of the initial validation processes, we may request supplemental documentation if we feel it is necessary. We may also contact you to schedule and conduct followup interviews with your agency. The results of the self-assessment will be reported in NARA's annual performance and accountability report. We may also use our validation findings as the basis for recommending agencies for an inspection of their recordkeeping practices, per 44 U.S.C. 2904(c) and 36 CFR 1239.

Please contact Stephanie Fawcett in the National Records Management Program (NRMP) if you have questions. She can be reached at Stephanie.Fawcett@nara.gov or 781-663-0124.


Chief Records Officer for the
U.S. Government