March 12, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Email Should Be Digital

3 minute read

Recently, Hillary Clinton's email was making headlines on the national news. Over 55,000 printed pages of Hillary Clinton's email is being handed over from her time as Secretary of State. The average person knows email is digital. Hillary Clinton's email should be stored and archived digitally. It makes no sense to print out 55,000 pages of Hillary Clinton's email. This is a problem for government agencies and private organizations alike. Let's ignore the politics of the situation and look at a modern approach the government is trying to implement.

A Modern Approach

pile of paper with hand reaching outIn November of 2011, President Barak Obama issued a memorandum to federal agencies and executives about managing government records. Regarding electronic communication, such as email, it says, "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."

In August of 2012, the National Archive and Records Administration (NARA) released a directive supporting electronic records management. It provides guidance to the agencies on moving towards this electronic records management approach. Here is a brief summary of our August 2013 blog post detailing The Presidential Records Management Directive, " means that if a record is permanent and electronic, then it must stay electronic throughout its management life cycle (assuming workflow and retention) and be transferred electronically to NARA."

Hillary Clinton's Email Should Be Digital

The key point is NARA wishes to manage email records digitally. In the case of Hillary Clinton's email, it's a burden when you consider the work needed for scanning and running OCR on 55,000 pages of email; and that's for just one person. President Barak Obama has made a great decision to emphasize the importance of using technology for electronic record keeping. Hillary Clinton should not be using paper to transfer electronic records to NARA. She should be using technology to reduce the burden on NARA. Thanks to this situation, we now have a great chance to discuss the importance of information governance with a wider audience. 

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