January 8, 2016

NARA Records Management Assessment Released

3 minute read

The Chief Records Officer at the National Archives and Records Administration recently released the 2014 Records Management Self-Assessment (RMSA) report. NARA uses this annual self-assessment to determine whether Federal agencies are compliant with statutory and regulatory records management assessment requirements as well as identify trends and areas of need.

Some of the key findings from this report are noted below:

  • An overall 5% increase in the agencies in the low risk category and an 8% decrease in the agencies in the high risk category
  • A majority of agencies are planning to implement the Capstone approach for managing email.
  • Agencies have policies and procedures in place for email, but monitoring for compliance is lacking.
  • Agency records management staff need more professional development in the field of electronic records management assessment.
  • Records management considerations are not being consistently incorporated as agencies are transitioning to cloud-based environments.
  • A majority of agencies report having methods to identify new and unscheduled records.
  • Half of all agency records officers perform their records management duties on a part time basis.

Additionally, NARA has made several recommendations based on their findings. The following are specifically directed at the Senior Agency Officials for Records Management:

  • Ensure all parts of the agency understand the role of effective records and information management in meeting mission needs.
  • Ensure compliance with records management regulations and policies throughout the organization.
  • Ensure the agency dedicates the resources necessary to meet M-12-18 goals and ensure that the Agency Records Officer and associated staff members have the support needed to carry out their responsibilities.

On a broader scale, they also made recommendations for all federal agencies and their records management assessment programs:

  • Agencies should continue to pursue technological solutions to electronic recordkeeping.
  • Agencies are encouraged to engage with NARA and other Federal oversight entities to meet the goals of M-12-18.
  • Agencies planning to adopt the Capstone approach for email management should work with NARA to ensure successful implementation.
  • Agencies should support the professional development of appropriate staff in electronic records management practices and procedures.
  • Agencies must develop and implement recordkeeping requirements for all records being managed in cloud-based environments.
  • Agencies must develop methods for ensuring compliance with their policies and procedure for email.


Overall, these findings seem to be trending in a positive direction and although this is exclusively around the federal agencies, seems like a close approximation of where a majority of the private business world is at as well. The recommendations, therefore, should ring true for a large number of organizations.

These are some of the same tenants we have been preaching here, including the focus on email and the cloud. As the cloud continues to become integrated with nearly every business process, it is critical that businesses have a records management strategy that reflects that emphasis. 

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