Friday, August 30, 2013

Records Managements: Slowly, Federal Agencies are Achieving Improved Records Handling

Records Managements: Slowly, Federal Agencies are Achieving Improved Records Handling By Dick Weisinger, on August 29th, 2013 NARA, the National Archives for managing federal records, now maintains more than 12 billion pages of physical records, 42 million photographs, and 500 terabytes of electronic records. The 40 main federal government agencies will be expected to manage 20.4 billion records by 2015 based on a survey by Meritalk conducted in late 2012. That report found that individually each federal agency spends about $34.4 million annually and currently manages an average of about 209 million records. Sue Trombley, managing director of consulting for Iron Mountain, said that “Federal record volumes will only continue to grow, driving up budgets and making it harder for agencies to manage information on their own. This growth and the added pressure from the Presidential Directive are combining to make records management very complicated and unsustainable. Most agencies know they need outside help and are looking for alternatives that include the development of a strategic plan, agency-wide collaboration and training, implementing technology solutions, and policy guidance and enforcement all aimed at regaining control for today and the future.” Federal agencies are also up against a mandate that requires them to transition from the management of physical to electronic records. By 2016, email records must be fully managed, and by 2019 electronic systems need to be fully managing permanent records. A recent internal report graded agencies in their attempts to move to electronic records. The report found that: Agencies are gradually improving. But while there is improvement, still only 20 percent of agencies are classified as low risk. 44 percent are moderate risk and 36 percent are high risk. Agencies have been more active in designing and developing new electronic management systems Agencies are taking electronic documents into account in making updates and revisions to their policies and records schedules High risk agencies include the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Army Materiel Command and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Perfect scores were achieved by the U.S. Secret Service, the Government Accountability Office, the Bureau of Reclamation, and top-level operations at the State Department.

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