Saturday, December 31, 2011

Email Management 2.0 Pilot

Email Management 2.0 Pilot:
Paul Wester

Chief Records Officer Paul Wester providing the briefing about the email management 2.0 pilot.

Yesterday, the Office of the Chief Records Officer held a meeting with selected Federal agencies to discuss a new pilot program that is underway. Over the next several months, we will be working to potentially develop new records management guidance around electronic mail. The traditional approach to managing email in Federal agencies is evolving as agencies deploy more tools, such as email archiving applications (see NARA Bulletin 2011-03), to store email.

We are exploring more efficient and effective ways for agencies to manage email electronically and hope to test different strategies for the capture, management, and eventual transfer to NARA of email. We will gather and evaluate feedback on what agencies current practices about the management of email are, the availability of email to support agency business needs, cost-effectiveness of different management strategies, and the overall records management risks and challenges. Results of this pilot project will inform future development of NARA guidance.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this project here. We will provide updates about the project right here on Records Express.

Patent and Trademark Office Schedule Project Completed

Patent and Trademark Office Schedule Project Completed:

Earlier this week, the records management staff from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) met with the Archivist of the United States to celebrate the completion of an 8 year scheduling project that completely revised and updated the records schedule for their agency. This milestone was marked with a brief ceremony where the Archivist formally signed the final records schedule of this effort.

Photo of USPTO staff and NARA staff, November 16, 2011

Seated, (left to right): Susan Fawcett, USPTO; David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States; Margaret McElrath, USPTO Standing (left to right): Earl Ashley, USPTO; Laurence Brewer; NARA; John Milligan, USPTO; Kate Flaherty, NARA; Neale Faunt, USPTO; Margaret Hawkins, NARA

Through this effort, the number of different records dispositions in PTO was reduced by 70% (from 414 to 127).  These new schedules align directly with the business functions through which PTO creates and uses records. As a result, staff better understand how to apply their records schedules to these important Federal records.

PTO met frequently with the NARA appraisal and electronic records staffs to identify and resolve problems as they were identified. In addition, they frequently met with various Federal agencies interested in their approach to  scheduling these records. Their schedules are available through our Records Control Schedule repository by following their record group number, 241. As best practices are identified from this effort, they will be made available through our Toolkit for Managing Electronic Records.

Congratulations to PTO on reaching this milestone!

Presidential Memorandum on Records Management

Presidential Memorandum on Records Management:

This morning, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum on Managing Government Records. This memorandum marks the start of an executive branch-wide effort to reform records management policies and practices. A statement by Archivist David Ferriero has also been posted on our website.

The memorandum requires each agency to report the name of a senior agency official who will supervise an agency-wide evaluation of its records management programs. These evaluations, which are to be completed in 120 days, are to focus on electronic records, including email and social media. After the senior agency officials have been named,we will schedule meetings to provide additional information on completing the requirements in the memorandum.

These requirements are described in more detail in a Memo to Records Officers and accompanying Letter to Heads of Federal Agencies that we will be sending to agencies shortly.

We strongly support this memorandum from the President, which sends a very clear message to Federal agencies about the importance of electronic records.  Records management must keep up with the technologies used to create records in the Federal government and the President’s Memorandum underlines the critical nature of this.  We are pleased that this is a priority of this Administration, and appreciate that the President reiterated what we have long noted: records management is the backbone of open government.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question about the Memorandum here.

Updated 11/29 to indicate revised timeline for the Memo to Records Officers.

Memo From NARA About the Presidential Memorandum

Memo From NARA About the Presidential Memorandum:

We have just issued AC 03.2012, a Memo to Federal Records Officers that contains further information about the Presidential Directive released last week.

Included is a Memo from the Archivist of The United States (available here as a .pdf) designed to assist agencies in fulfilling the reporting requirements of the directive. This memorandum provides more information about Presidential directive and the due dates for the various actions. In addition, it briefly describes how this input will be used by NARA to produce the 21st century framework for managing government records required by Section 3 of the directive.

We will be updating Records Express tomorrow with some frequently asked questions that we have been receiving about the directive.

Bulletin on Shared Drives Released

Bulletin on Shared Drives Released:

We are pleased to announce that NARA Bulletin 2012-02, Guidance on Managing Content on Shared Drives  has been issued. NARA recognizes agencies have long used shared drives to store content. Agencies have had varying degrees of success in managing the Federal records on shared drives. This Bulletin outlines the records management implications and challenges, agency responsibilities, and benefits of organizing and managing content stored on shared drives.

The bulletin has been posted to our website at Or, is the shortened link.

NARA bulletins are designed to provide fundamental guidance to Federal agencies who must then determine the most appropriate ways to incorporate the guidance into their work. This bulletin was written from feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders, including the agency records officers and the Federal Records Council. In addition, recall that back in October, we posted a preliminary draft for comment. We thank everyone for their input.

FAQ About Presidential Memorandum

FAQ About Presidential Memorandum:

There has been considerable interest from agencies and other stakeholders about the requirements of the Presidential Memorandum. As we wrote yesterday, the Archivist has issued a Memo to Agency Heads that clarifies the requirements and describes more broadly how we will proceed with the development of the Records Management Directive that is required by the Presidential Memorandum. These items were also discussed at length at yesterday’s BRIDG meeting (slides of that presentation are available here as .pdf).

From that interaction, and interactions that we have been having with agencies, we have compiled the following FAQ that have been raised:

1)  What is the definition of a senior agency official as used in Section 2(a)(iii)?

The memorandum is not specific but the general benchmark is a senior official at the SES level with agency-wide visibility and authority. A comparable assignment would be the senior agency official required to work with NARA’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) as required by Executive Order 13526. Senior agency official designations are also required in the FOIA world. We have identified our COO (3rd highest person in the agency) as our senior agency official.

2)  Do agency components of a larger Department respond to NARA or can there be a single Department-wide response?

NARA seeks a response from each executive agency as defined in Section 102 of U.S.C. 40. We leave it to Department-level records programs to determine the level of coordination or review of submissions from subordinate agencies.

3)  What if our agency does not respond? Are we required to respond if we are not an executive branch agency?

The Presidential Memorandum was sent to heads of all executive branch agencies. However, we believe that all agencies will wish to respond so that they may contribute to the development of the directive.

4)  Does the memorandum cover records in hard copy as well as electronic records?

Records in all media will be covered by the directive required by section 3(a) of the memorandum. While special attention is being paid to electronic records and the directive is to consider “transitioning from paper-based records management to electronic records management where feasible”, the universe of Federal records must be addressed when developing a records management framework for the 21st century.

5)  Will there be further assistance forthcoming from NARA in helping agencies to submit the reports required by section 2(b) of the memorandum?

We will be posting and sharing a template for agencies shortly.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions here. We will continue to update our blog throughout this project. For quick access to all posts about the Presidential Memorandum, feel free to bookmark this link:

Obama administration pushes for digital records management overhaul

Obama administration pushes for digital records management overhaul

Social media, presidential intervention steered e-discovery in 2011 as ESI emerged in new roles

Social media, presidential intervention steered e-discovery in 2011 as ESI emerged in new roles

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Obama administration pushes for digital records management ...

Obama administration pushes for digital <b>records management</b> <b>...</b>: In an effort to bolster IT efficiency and improve public access to government records, U.S. President Barack Obama recently called on federal agencies to begin transitioning to digital records management wherever possible. ... Earlier this year, NARA announced plans to end a previous electronic records archive due largely to project mismanagement and the inability to control costs. But there are clear advantages to adopting a digital approach to records management ...

Remembering a remarkable Soviet computing pioneer

Remembering a remarkable Soviet computing pioneer: In many parts of the world, today is Christmas—but in Russia and Eastern Europe, which use the Orthodox calendar, December 25 is just an ordinary day. Little known to most, however, it’s also a day that marks the anniversary of a key development in European computer history.

Sixty years ago today, in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the Soviet Academy of Sciences finally granted formal recognition to Sergey Lebedev’s pioneering MESM project. MESM, a Russian abbreviation for “Small Electronic Calculating Machine,” is regarded as the earliest, fully operational electronic computer in the Soviet Union—and indeed continental Europe.

Recently we were privileged to get a first-hand account of Lebedev’s achievements from Boris Malinovsky, who worked on MESM and is now a leading expert on Soviet-era computing.

Turn on captions for the English translation.

Described by some as the “Soviet Alan Turing,” Sergey Lebedev had been thinking about computing as far back as the 1930’s, until interrupted by war. In 1946 he was made director of Kyiv’s Institute of Electrical Engineering. Soon after, stories of “electronic brains” in the West began to circulate and his interest in computing revived.

Sergey Lebedev*

Initially, Lebedev’s superiors were skeptical, and some in his team felt working on a “calculator”—how they thought of a computer—was a step backward compared to electrical and space systems research. Lebedev pressed on regardless, eventually finding funding from the Rocketry department and space to work in a derelict former monastery in Feofania, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Work on MESM got going properly at the end of 1948 and, considering the challenges, the rate of progress was remarkable. Ukraine was still struggling to recover from the devastation of its occupation during WWII, and many of Kyiv’s buildings lay in ruins. The monastery in Feofania was among the buildings destroyed during the war, so the MESM team had to build their working quarters from scratch—the laboratory, metalworking shop, even the power station that would provide electricity. Although small—just 20 people—the team was extraordinarily committed. They worked in shifts 24 hours a day, and many lived in rooms above the laboratory. (You can listen to a lively account of this time in programme 3 of the BBC’s ”Electronic brains” series.)

MESM and team members in 1951. From left to right: Lev Dashevsky, Zoya Zorina-Rapota, Lidiya Abalyshnikova, Tamara Petsukh, Evgeniy Dedeshko

MESM ran its first program on November 6, 1950, and went into full-time operation in 1951. In 1952, MESM was used for top-secret calculations relating to rocketry and nuclear bombs, and continued to aid the Institute’s research right up to 1957. By then, Lebedev had moved to Moscow to lead the construction of the next generation of Soviet supercomputers, cementing his place as a giant of European computing. As for MESM, it met a more prosaic fate—broken into parts and studied by engineering students in the labs at Kyiv’s Polytechnic Institute.

*All photos thanks to

Posted by Marina Tarasova, Communications Associate, Ukraine

Monday, December 12, 2011

Some initial points as you begin the project to obtain an electronic records management application!

• Establish a project team with stakeholders from various agency divisions. The team should consist of member that will be committed to the task and will work together to procure a solution that will be most suitable for your agency. • Draft a clear project plan with clear action items and deliverables. • Seek to preview and demo many solutions, but realize that even though the vendors will promise you the moon and perhaps what they have is the latest and the greatest realize that it may not be the solution for your agency. • Prioritize agency governance and ensure policies and dispositions are in order. They will probably need revising as the project unfolds. • Celebrate each accomplishment. • Maximize decisions from leadership. Executive sponsorship throughout the process is essential to the project’s success! This is a beginning and we will share more later! Wish you much success and accomplish!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Federal Agencies Compelled to Submit Electronic Records Management Plan

Federal Agencies Compelled to Submit Electronic Records Management Plan

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Agencies have 120 days to start getting e-records in shape

Agencies have 120 days to start getting e-records in shape Tuesday - 11/29/2011, 8:20am ET Listen Emily Kopp, reporter, Federal News Radio Download By Emily Kopp & Jack Moore Federal News Radio In a memo that recognizes emails, tweets and other electronic communications play a key role in government decisions, President Barack Obama is directing agencies to improve their archiving of digital records. "Proper records management is the backbone of open government," Obama wrote Monday in the memo to agency heads. "Greater reliance on electronic communication and systems has radically increased the volume and diversity of information that agencies must manage," he said. "With proper planning, technology can make these records less burdensome to manage and easier to use and share. But if records management policies and practices are not updated for a digital age, the surge in information could overwhelm agency systems, leading to higher costs and lost records." Records-management programs at 95 percent of agencies are at moderate-to-high risk, according to a recent survey by the National Archives and Records Administration. It found most agencies lacked the resources to manage effectively their records. Few had full-time records officers and senior officials often do not see allocating resources for records management a priority. A "significant minority of agencies" could not identify their vital records and did not comply with a required annual review of their vital records programs. Open government advocates hailed the memo as a critical step in making the most ubiquitous government communication — email — available to the public. Current agency practices are "dismal," said Anne Weismann, chief counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "Emails are where you have the candid exchanges that really are the so-called smoking gun," she said. "This stuff is important for the public to hold the government accountable and tell the whole story." "A very clear message" The President's memo sets deadlines for agencies to complete specific steps toward improving their archiving systems. Agencies must appoint within 30 days a senior official to lead a review of the agency's records management system with an emphasis on the maintenance of electronic records, including emails, social media and data stored in cloud computing-based services. A resulting report should describe the agency's plan for improving or maintaining its record-keeping system. It should identify barriers to improvement and recommend any government-wide policies or programs that would help. Agencies must submit reports to NARA and the Office of Management and Budget within 120 days on the record management review. The memo "sends a very clear message" about the importance of managing electronic records, said Archivist David Ferreiro in a written statement. He said the Archives will conduct discussions with agencies and outside groups on ways to improve governmentwide recordkeeping. The memo instructs the Archives and OMB to develop by next summer a more efficient and cost-effective government-wide records-management framework. NARA and OMB also will direct agencies to take specific steps to transition from paper to electronic records management wherever possible, improve records-retention policies in accordance with their missions, increase accountability through documentation, improve transparency and make sure they are complying with legal requirements. In the process, the Archives will evaluate laws, policies and practices to identify further ways to improve electronic records management. "My staff and I look forward to working with agencies to ensure that they comply with the new memorandum and that we continue a government-wide effort to preserve permanent electronic records that eventually become part of the holdings of the National Archives," Ferriero said. Resources remain a "question mark" As NARA and open government groups have found, agencies' past performance with records management is lacking. In fact, CREW sued the George W. Bush White House for violating records laws and "losing" more than 22 million emails. To settle the case, Obama released thousands of documents and established new email-keeping procedures. Now, "at the White House, everything that needs to be saved is saved," even Obama's Blackberry messages, Weismann said. But, she added, agencies have a significant challenge in matching White House efforts, noting that electronic recordkeeping takes both money and training. "It is resource problem," she said. "That's a huge question mark we have now: How is the government going to deal with that problem?" Leadership and training are keys to success One agency that is doing relatively well warns that the process can be long and difficult. The Government Accountability Office, which had the sixth-best score in the Archives survey, spent four years developing its digital records system. Agency leaders felt having a top records keeping system was vital because GAO reviews other agency's operations, said Catherine Teti, director for knowledge services and chief agency privacy officer. "They understood the importance of effectively managing the material that we were creating and receiving electronically and doing it as efficiently as we could," she said. "Record keeping is just part and parcel of doing business here at the agency." Teti added GAO's staff understands that evidence can take any form. "That was already part of the culture and we could build on that," she said. GAO has a full-time records officer with a small support staff. It continuously offers training to staff on how to assess the value of emails and other materials. Other agencies that topped the 2010 survey include the International Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, USAID and the Interior Department.

Statement by Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero: Release of Presidential Memorandum on Managing Government Records

The National Archives and Records Administration strongly supports this memorandum from the President, which sends a very clear message to Federal agencies about the importance of managing electronic records. Records management must keep up with the technologies used to create records in the Federal government, and the President’s Memorandum underlines the critical nature of this responsibility. I am delighted that this is a priority of this Administration, and appreciate that the President reiterated what the National Archives has long noted: “good records management is the backbone of open government.”

Statement by Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero: Release of Presidential Memorandum on Managing Government Records

CREW and Statement on Presidential Memo on Managing Government Records | CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

This story should be followed by all records management practitioners, especially those working in the Federal sphere.

CREW and Statement on Presidential Memo on Managing Government Records | CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington