Starting in 2007 the federal government, under the direction of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), issued a records digitization strategy. The goal of the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) was to guide agencies through a records digitization process with a focus on a three-year sprint from 2019 to 2022 that would end paper record keeping for federal government agencies.
With that deadline long past, and a new deadline of June 30, 2024, in sight, are agencies in better shape to finally stop using paper records? That’s the topic of today’s news roundup.
Read on to learn more about records digitization in the federal government, new requirements for archiving electronic records, and the technologies that will help agencies meet the new deadline.
It’s Go Time! NARA Prepares for 2024 Digital Records Deadline
As federal agencies prepare to become digital-first agencies by mid-year 2024, NARA is ensuring that its records management system is ready to support the influx of digital records.
In this article from the team at Federal News Network, Jason Doubleday looks at NARA’s Electronic Record Archive (ERA) 2.0 system that went live on September 18, 2023. Noted Laurence Brewer, U.S. Chief Records Officer, “Since June, ERA 2.0 has been available for agencies to submit transfer requests … Now, the system will have full functionality for records scheduling. The majority of previous ERA data, including records schedules and transfer requests, has been migrated into the system. All previously existing user roles have also been migrated.”
Want to read more? The full article is here.
How Do You Archive an Emoji? Challenges and Opportunities in Records Management in the Digital Age
While the pressure is on all federal agencies to become digital-first agencies when it comes to records keeping and documentation, NARA faces its own digitization challenges.
With over 4 million cubic feet of hard copy records spread across 18 Federal Records Centers, NARA needs to ensure that risk is managed while these paper records are transferred into digital form. Noted Sonja Mundra, President of Chenega Analytic Business Solutions, “[w]hat is often forgotten in the digital age, is that physical risk and security challenges persist … Paper records require dedicated resources, management attention, and investments to protect from both man-made and natural disasters that would result in fire or water damage. The time and resources spent in ensuring documents are physically preserved could be applied to more effectively managing electronic records.”
Read more of Mundra’s insights here.
The Department of Defense’s New Records Management Strategy Demonstrates Effectiveness
Prior to May 2023, the Department of Defense did not have a records management strategy. But now, with a five-year plan in place, the DoD is moving boldly into a new era where they will be able to create “a comprehensive library of records to aid the department in decision-making, automating records creation, retrieving and managing records, and planning a lifecycle for them.”
With the strategy in place, the caution from Jason R. Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and current University of Maryland professor in the College of Information Studies is for the DoD to keep innovating to keep the strategy relevant to a rapidly changing information landscape. These include focusing on making records searchable using both current metadata best practices and new AI tools as they come to market.
What else should the Department of Defense be planning for in records management? You can learn more here.