NARA gets OMB directive: oversee revamping of fed records management

The National Archives and Records Administration will oversee the development of a robust records management framework based on cloud architecture, secure storage and analytical tools, according to an Office of Management and Budget directive.

The Managing Government Records Directive creates a records management framework that complies with the Presidential Memorandum, issued on Nov. 28, 2011 – Managing Government Records – aimed at reforming records management policies and practices.

The Obama administration’s goal is to develop a 21st-century framework for the management of government records, according to the directive, released Aug. 24 by Jeffrey Zients, acting director of OMB, and David Ferriero, archivist of the United States, with NARA.

“Records are the foundation of open government, supporting the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration. Well-managed records can be used to assess the impact of programs, to improve business processes, and to share knowledge across the government,” the directive states.

The directive is based on agency reports and feedback from consultations with agencies, interagency groups and public stakeholders. It is applicable to all executive agencies and to all records, without regard to security classification or any other restriction. 

It also identifies specific actions that will be taken by NARA, OMB and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to support agency records management. Some of those actions include:

By Dec. 31, 2013:

• Complete, and make available, revised guidance, including metadata requirements, for transferring permanent electronic records, to include additional sustainable formats commonly used to meet agency business needs.

• Issue new guidance that describes methods for managing, disposing and transferring email

• Investigate and stimulate applied research in automated technologies to reduce the burden of records management responsibilities. NARA will produce a plan for the automated management of email, social medial and other types of digital record content, including advanced search techniques.

• Incorporate into existing reporting requirements an annual agency update on new cloud initiatives, including a description of how each new initiative meets Federal Records Act obligations and the goals outlined in the directive. For the initial report the agency will identify any existing use of cloud services or storage, and the date of implementation.

• Evaluate the feasibility for secure "data at rest" storage and management services for federal agency-owned electronic records. This basic shared service will adhere to NARA records management regulations and provide standards and tools to preserve records and make them accessible within their originating agency until NARA performs disposition.

• Continue to improve the effectiveness of federal records management programs through analytical tools and enhanced NARA oversight. NARA will identify a governmentwide analytical tool to help NARA and agencies measure program compliance aid in agency decision-making.


By Dec. 31, 2014:

.• The Federal CIO Council, and the Federal Records Council, working with NARA, will obtain external involvement for the development of open source records management solutions.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

Reader Comments

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 Lawrence Medina

Sounds great on the surface but: WHERE will the staff and money come from to fund this within the prescribed times? Following this since the Presidential Memo was written, submitted comments then, when draft went out and now on the final. I fully comprehend the desire to achieve many of the objectives listed, but I have the same concerns I had last Fall. The largest issue is that no one has scoped the effort required to achieve the goals (assessing volume of permanent and temporary records throughout the Agencies, in existing physical format (including microfilm and fiche). This doesn't touch what is in active electronic systems... but the big concern is the effort required to address LEGACY content. Many legacy systems are no longer supported and procedures need to be developed to extract content from them. The majority of these systems were kept 'alive' because the content was thought to be of Permanent value, but no one migrated it forward to viable media or accessible systems as required in 36CFR. In addition, the article in NextGov points out the cost and effort in conversion http://www.nextgov.com/big-data/2012/06/va-will-need-4000-personnel-scan-backlogged-paper-records/56347/ This real world example is but one small portion of a single agencies content. Once this effort of conversion of source materials to electronic formats is completed, the directives makes is sound as if the digital copies become THE "originals" and source materials may be discarded, which is contrary to all but a limited number of conversion efforts under present 36CFR guidance. There are many examples in the recent past of corruption, loss and damage occurring with digital repositories. There are also extensive costs for replicating or mirroring content and periodic conversion/migration and refreshing to avoid obsolescence of format, media and degradation that occurs over 5, 10, 15 years. How is NARA planning on budgeting to stay ahead of this to ensure persistent access to critical information sources to protect historic, intrinsic and enduring records? I'm unsure if there has been sufficient concern given to the unrealistic nature of the milestones presented given the lack of staffing in RM in Federal Agencies, and the severe lack of funding. Also, with a large volume of Federal Records are generated and managed by Contractors to Agencies, funds will have to be provided to them to staff up to meet any requirements passed along to them or first tier Subcontractors, many of whom generate and manage Permanent records. Most of them have existing contracts with requirements in them, but NONE OF THEM include the language in this new Directive- and once it is included in 36CFR, it will result in new requirements for in-force contracts that need to be evaluated and funded, prior to being included as a requirement. All of this puts many of the scheduled implementation and completion dates in jeopardy

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