Agencies Need to Improve Records Management
With the transition process underway, the Obama administration has begun transferring 12 terabytes of data to the National Archives and Records Administration, but this is not a simple feat as many agencies do not prioritize records keeping, nor have they kept up with federal requirements.
Jim Williams, former federal IT and acquisition executive and current consultant with Shambach and Williams, said on Information Management Month, “Records management is very important. And it becomes more important as OMB has put out memos to first freeze the federal footprint and then reduce the federal footprint.”
When speaking with Tom Temin on Federal Drive, Williams also noted, “What [agencies] really need is a strategy for managing their records better and paying attention to the OMB mandates to be able to manage all of their email in electronic format by the end of this year and then be able to manage all of their records in an electronic format by 2019. Those are important deadlines. What it really means is agencies need a strategy. They need to step up.”
The Obama administration attempted to remedy this issue in 2011 when they put out a memo on improving records management procedures, but no funding was provided to make such improvements.
Additionally, federal records keeping is still predominantly in the form of paper files. CBRE, a real-estate firm, estimates that 35 percent of federal commercial office space is being used to store paper records.
“National Archives estimates that that paper trail is going to be with us for the next 40 years or so,”
said Rob Efrus of Efrus Federal Advisors. “So what agencies have had to do in many cases is store those records in their own facilities.”
“Because records management is a relatively low priority in the scheme of things, agencies are reluctant to change how they’re doing business with regards to paper records,” Efrus said. “Some agencies have taken a more aggressive enterprise approach, recognizing that millions of dollars can be saved on an annual basis by taking a more best-practices approach to getting those records out of commercial office space and doing so in a way that increases transparency and accountability.”
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