Transitioning to Digital

Keep it seriously simple

Keep it seriously simple:


What is the least amount of records management support one may expect (ask, require or mandate) from electronic records creators? Perhaps that they fill out a very simple xml-based web form any time they create a record. I know what you're thinking: Another form, really? But consider this…


Most of the fields in a "Lifecycle Tracking Form" may be filled out automatically based on a user's e-profile –name, title, agency/department, date. Others fields, such as classification level and –with a whole lot of research, writing, and backend programming by NARA and its clients- RM schedule/legal requirement can also be semi-automated in the form of drop-down menus targeted to records creators bearing particular agency profiles as noted above. As to keywords or subjects, I have absolutely no idea how to automate this, but I bet a smartypants programmer in this agency might.


Clearly adding another form for government employees to fill out in the process of filling out a form is a tough sell. I try to imagine doing it myself and I wince! But now try to visualize being a records processor working the early to mid-range of the record lifecycle in which your primary responsibility is to sift through petabytes (exa, zetta…) of data to locate related documents without the aid of a standardized metatdata record? I'd be willing to bet that archivists within our PRA libraries will tell you it's a grind.


So, let's be honest with ourselves and our clients. We all need to become records managers and we must be willing to work together (that is, speak the same metadata language). NARA can build seriously simple tools and staff agencies to help smooth the transition to a predominantly electronic records universe.


Let's be leaders!



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Idea No. 29