NARA group outlines archiving alternatives in a new proposal

Federal agencies need to establish specific schedules for saving and destroying
electronic records, a National Archives and Records Administration workgroup said.

The recommendation is part of a document outlining possible archiving alternatives for
electronic records. NARA distributed the document to government agency chiefs earlier this

The Electronic Records Workgroup recommended NARA adopt a three-pronged approach for
archiving electronic copies of records that NARA previously let agencies delete under
General Records Schedule 20.

As a replacement for GRS-20, the workgroup recommended that NARA do three things:

The provision covering IT systems records would require agencies to develop a schedule
for system administration and operations records. The records would include files related
to systems use and maintenance and backup tapes, the workgroup said.

The workgroup also said NARA ought to establish another group to help agencies move
toward electronic record-keeping.

"Since many, if not most, agencies have their record-keeping systems in paper
form, this is going to be what they need right now," said Michael Miller, director of
the modern records program for NARA and head of the workgroup.

At one point, the workgroup considered recommending agencies move to electronic
record-keeping, but its members felt there were too many complex and distracting
implementation issues, NARA officials said. Under order of a legal ruling, NARA by October
must create a policy for archiving electronic records.

The workgroup’s proposal would revise GRS-20, stripping it of all references to
word processing and e-mail documents. GRS-20 permitted agencies to print and delete
electronic documents.

A draft of the policy proposals is available on the Web at

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