NARA to consider federal records policies

NARA to consider federal records policies

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

The National Archives and Records Administration has begun a broad review of its record-keeping policies.

NARA late last month contracted with SRA International Inc. of Arlington, Va., to gather agencies' views on the creation, maintenance, use and disposition of their records.

Lewis Bellardo, the deputy archivist, said the $468,000, one-year SRA contract is part of NARA's effort to see how federal work has changed because of word processing, e-mail, the Internet and intranets, and data warehousing.

NARA's Lewis Bellardo sees significant changes in record-keeping.

Team approach

'Over the past decade, organizations have become flatter, clerical staff have declined in numbers and work teams have become more common,' Bellardo said. 'Outsourcing of agency program functions may be significantly affecting record-keeping.'

NARA will use the data to analyze records systems in a subset of the offices surveyed. The review will be 'a series of snapshots of record-keeping in federal agencies,' Bellardo said.

Hal Boylan, vice president of SRA's civil government division, said the company will first do focus groups with agency records officers. Based on their comments, SRA will target 24 agencies to see how their record-keeping has changed because of automation.

SRA will interview the people at those agencies involved in process flow and information technology. Then, at about 12 to 18 agencies, it will interview the general counsels, chief information officers and inspectors general.

NARA also announced last month that agencies can retrieve documents from its records centers over the Web.

NARA's Centers Information Processing System, formerly available only as a dial-up system, is now online at

Users can retrieve items from 21 million boxes of federal records at 16 centers across the country via browser drop-down lists and check boxes, instead of the former function key sequences.

Each of the centers has search aids, such as lists of archived materials dating back decades, but only a small percentage of the lists are online. They appear at Simple and advanced Web search functions also are available.

The NARA Archival Information Locator database project aims eventually to produce an online catalog of all holdings.

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