November 18, 2015

Records Management Included in Open Government Action Plan

2 minute read

A recent article from ARMA highlights the new initiatives rolled out by the Obama administration as part of its third Open Government National Action Plan. This is part of the of the United State's membership in the Open Government Partnership which has grown to 66 countries and whose objective is stated "Member countries and their civil society partners are all working to increase public integrity, enhance public access to information, improve management of public resources, and give the public a more active voice in government processes.” They also hold a summit every two years where countries outline commitments to advance open #government.

The US released its first National Action Plan in 2011, which contained a commitment to reform records management policies across the entire executive branch. President Obama also signed a Memorandum on Managing Government Records, which put a formal process in place for a reformed, digital, government-wide #records management framework. Following that in 2013, the second National Action Plan was released. The highlight of this release was the directive for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to work with federal agencies to implement automated management of e-mails, implement the requirements of the Managing Government Record Directive to manage all e-mail records by the end of 2016 and set up voluntary data and metadata standards to make it easier for people to search public government records.

The newest NAP calls on the government to move more initiatives of the Managing Government Records Directive. It requires NARA to release a public dataset of positions of government officials whose e-mail will come to the National Archives for permanent preservation under the Capstone approach, which is a system that allows for the capture of records that should be archived permanently from officials at or near the top of their organization. The new plan also requires NARA to introduce targeted questions around e-mail management to agencies through new and legacy reporting systems and also to report publicly on their progress.

Overall, the new NAP calls for reasonable steps to be made around email records management to ensure that there are no more controversial incidents similar to the one involving Hillary Clinton. While this is a noble initiative, email is only one piece of the records managements puzzle. How can an organization be sure they are managing all of their records?

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