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FAQ About Presidential Memorandum

by on December 7, 2011


There has been considerable interest from agencies and other stakeholders about the requirements of the Presidential Memorandum. As we wrote yesterday, the Archivist has issued a Memo to Agency Heads that clarifies the requirements and describes more broadly how we will proceed with the development of the Records Management Directive that is required by the Presidential Memorandum. These items were also discussed at length at yesterday’s BRIDG meeting (slides of that presentation are available here as .pdf).

From that interaction, and interactions that we have been having with agencies, we have compiled the following FAQ that have been raised:

1)  What is the definition of a senior agency official as used in Section 2(a)(iii)?

The memorandum is not specific but the general benchmark is a senior official at the SES level with agency-wide visibility and authority. A comparable assignment would be the senior agency official required to work with NARA’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) as required by Executive Order 13526. Senior agency official designations are also required in the FOIA world. We have identified our COO (3rd highest person in the agency) as our senior agency official.

2)  Do agency components of a larger Department respond to NARA or can there be a single Department-wide response?

NARA seeks a response from each executive agency as defined in Section 102 of U.S.C. 40. We leave it to Department-level records programs to determine the level of coordination or review of submissions from subordinate agencies.

3)  What if our agency does not respond? Are we required to respond if we are not an executive branch agency?

The Presidential Memorandum was sent to heads of all executive branch agencies. However, we believe that all agencies will wish to respond so that they may contribute to the development of the directive.

4)  Does the memorandum cover records in hard copy as well as electronic records?

Records in all media will be covered by the directive required by section 3(a) of the memorandum. While special attention is being paid to electronic records and the directive is to consider “transitioning from paper-based records management to electronic records management where feasible”, the universe of Federal records must be addressed when developing a records management framework for the 21st century.

5)  Will there be further assistance forthcoming from NARA in helping agencies to submit the reports required by section 2(b) of the memorandum?

We will be posting and sharing a template for agencies shortly.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions here. We will continue to update our blog throughout this project. For quick access to all posts about the Presidential Memorandum, feel free to bookmark this link: http://go.usa.gov/5fg


Comments

SMJ December 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Our records department is trying to get support for our agency, however, when we approached our General Counsel regarding the memorandum they told us that since we are a NAFI of the DOD that we did not need to provide any information. Are they correct?

“this directive does not apply to NAFIs. It applies to DoD. We should not be communicating with NARA directly on this unless and until DoD tells us to”

Arian Ravanbakhsh December 19, 2011 at 8:41 am

Thanks for your comment and question.

It appears your General Counsel is correct that the memorandum is not directed at your organization. However, without knowing the name of your agency that is not 100% certain. The memorandum requires responses from executive agencies and NARA is encouraging Federal agencies that are not considered executive agencies to respond as we expect they will want to contribute to the development of the directive. NAFI’s (non-appropriated fund instrumentalities) are generally components of a larger DoD agency such as the Department of the Army that will be reporting to NARA.

For further confirmation that your organization is not required to take action by the memorandum or encouraged to do so by NARA you might want to consult with a higher echelon records management contact within your department. Also, if your organization has not previously responded to the Records Management Self Assessment (see Appendix III for responding DoD agencies) or is not listed as one of the DoD entities assisted by our Military Work Group of appraisers it is unlikely that action is in order.

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