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Records Management Reform Ideas

As a representative of a private sector company that supports government agencies with their records management, here are a few ideas for RM reform:

1. OMB should consider providing upfront funding for agencies to digitize their records. Agencies will need help figuring out "what" records to digitize. A short-term capital expense would lead to longer-term ROI for government budgets; 2. Records management programs typically have inadequate levels of personnel to handle the load and this contributes to FOIA backlogs. Consider increasing the importance of records management and giving these programs appropriate headcount levels to move beyond reactive records management and put them in a leadership position within the CIO's organization; 3. Homegrown records management systems are not scaleable and do not integrate between Department agencies/components or with enterprise content management tools for search across physical and digital records. Consider providing a list of vendors who can help agencies with RM software and grant budget enhancements for these improvements; 4. Partner with leaders in the records management industry to help provide necessary records management training to all employees in Federal government. Develop scalable content that can easily be rolled out; 5. Give agencies increased control and accountability over their temporary business records and put a NARA emphasis on permanent records management.

Submitted by Community Member 2 years ago

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    2 years ago
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  1. The idea was posted
    2 years ago

Comments (1)

  1. There are a lot of good basic suggestions here that are at the core of improving current practices for managing Federal Records for both NARA and Agencies.

    I don't think they are in any specific order, but a shuffling of a few of these would result in part of what's needed for a plan to move forward.

    I STRONGLY agree with the need for funding and increased staffing levels, but caution how the funding is managed so it stays WITHIN THE RM Programs and that the RIGHT STAFF be put into the positions... not the manner in which it has long been done in the Federal Sector. There is insufficient attention paid to determining the skills required for staff to properly manage records. And part of this is a lack of training.

    However, the 'training and skills' issue is a classic "Which came first, the Chicken or the Egg?" conundrum. If training is based on the current guidance (36CFR, Subchapter B) then it won't provide the skills and knowledge required to make any improvements. If training is based on effective practices used in private industry (no, NOT GARP!!) then it will lack many of the nuances related to effective Federal RM practices, so there needs to be a balance struck.

    I also agree with the suggestion for SELECTIVE digitizing of legacy records, with CAREFUL attention paid to determining appropriate content for expending the effort and funds to convert source materials first.

    Attention must also be paid to ensuring quality controls are in place to ensure accurate images and selecting the proper elements of these materials for indexing (metadata) to enable users to locate the images. And for this to be successful over the long term, practices and funding must also be put in place for periodic conversion and migration to ensure persistent access.

    As for 'systems and technologies', less attention should be paid to selecting vendors or products. Instead, the emphasis should be placed on establishing a common architecture and required functionality for whatever systems are deployed. This may require the ability to utilize multiple systems with a common front end that provides access to multiple repositories, and vendors may need to rethink the 'proprietary nature' of their systems and embrace a more 'open architecture'. Think of it this way- would it be better for multiple vendors to ALL HAVE a piece of the whole, given the scope of the Federal Enterprise or for all of the Government to rely on ONE VENDOR?

    2 years ago
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    0 Disagreed