Federal Records Management

Baseline Requirements for Automated Record keeping

November 18, 1998

Honorable Arthur L. Money
Senior Civilian Official
Assistant Secretary of Defense
(Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence)
6000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-6000

Dear Mr. Money:

In December, 1997, your predecessor and I signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a partnership between DoD and NARA on records management initiatives. As a first step in this partnership, NARA agreed to "evaluate the DoD Baseline Requirements for Records Management Applications (RMA), with a view towards endorsing these requirements as an adequate and appropriate basis for addressing the basic challenges of managing records in the automated environment that increasingly characterizes the creation and use of records."

NARA has completed an intensive review of the DoD requirements, as embodied in Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications, DoD 5015.2-STD. We have determined that the DoD standard generally conforms with the requirements of the Federal Records Act and the implementing records management regulations found in 36 Code of Federal Regulations 1220-1238. I am pleased to inform you that NARA will endorse the use of the DoD standard by Federal agencies.

I am also pleased to send you the attached report of our evaluation. As the report details, we found no critical shortcomings in the DoD standard. However, during our review, we did identify four areas of concern. Two of the concerns can be addressed in the next iteration of the DoD standard, and the other two are most appropriately addressed through guidance supplementing the standard. Of particular note is an issue concerning the intelligent representation of user ID account names on e-mail records. This issue poses significant technical challenges given the current state of technology.

These findings in no way jeopardize our overall endorsement of the current DoD standard. However, DoD and NARA will need to address them in the future. We have shared these concerns and findings informally with your staff, and I understand they have responded positively. I am certain we can finalize a common approach to all four issues through the collaborative effort established in our MOU.

I will shortly communicate to other agencies that NARA does endorse the DoD standard as establishing baseline requirements for managing records. It must, however, be understood that this is not an exclusive endorsement. That is, while the DoD standard is an appropriate basis for records management, there may be other, equally valid ways to address this challenge. NARA is participating in other partnerships which are exploring such alternatives.

In announcing NARA's endorsement of the DoD standard, we will need to draw attention to the fact that, as DoD recognizes, DoD 5015.2-STD defines only a baseline set of requirements for automated records keeping. There are a number of additional questions that must be resolved in order to satisfy all the established requirements for managing federal records. Each agency must address some of these questions to fit their own environment, such as you are planning to do by developing a manual detailing procedures to accompany the implementation of any records management software. We recognize the necessity of this effort and concur with it. We will gladly offer our assistance to your staff during their development of this operational guidance. This guidance should be useful to other agencies which decide to adopt the DoD standard. We look forward to continued collaboration with DoD both on addressing these implementation issues and on extending the baseline, as provided in the MOU.

It must also be clear that NARA's endorsement of the DoD standard is not an endorsement of any of the products that may be certified as compliant with the standard. As provided in the memorandum of understanding, NARA has initiated a review of DoD's test and certification program for RMA products. I will inform you of the results of this second stage of our review as soon as possible.

The two part review of the DoD standard and the certification program will set the stage for further collaboration between our agencies in extending the baseline that DoD has established. I look forward to an extensive and fruitful partnership. These include extending the standard to accomplish both the management of records over their entire lifecycle and classification marking and redaction of records containing sensitive information.


Archivist of the United States