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IdeaScale Deadline Extended

by on March 8, 2012


We continue to work on meeting the requirements in the Presidential Memorandum on Managing Government Records and have reached out to our colleagues in related professions and the general public by setting up an IdeaScale community where ideas can be submitted, voted on, and commented on. When we announced the community, we indicated that it would be open for comments until March 27. Now, we have added a public meeting about the Memorandum scheduled for that same March 27.

As a result of these activities, we have extended the deadline for the IdeaScale community until Friday, April 6. We hope that extension will increase participation in this community and encourage all of those interested in this important project to visit the site.


Comments

Marie B. Allen March 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I had the privilege of leading NARA’s Life Cycle Management Division for several years and am delighted to see the discussions going on now about improving the entire records management process in the Federal sector.

I think we need to understand that most of our current records management laws and regulations were promulgated in an environment without the FOIA, the Internet, or modern communication media such as the social networks. In an earlier time, an agency records schedule might have been the only opportunity a citizen had to learn about all of the records being created or maintained by that Federal entity. Today, there are many other (and better) opportunities for citizens to access or inquire about agencies’ records and the records schedule submitted to NARA needs to serve a more limited and focused function.

We need to re-imagine the purpose of the records schedule, and focus its use on permanent records and records relating to the rights and interests of citizens. We need to delegate the management of most temporary records to the creating agencies, and stop spending costly personnel hours overseeing the masses of short-term records that are of little interest to the citizen or the historian.

Finally, we can provide necessary oversight through periodic records inspections, preceded by offering consulting services to agencies (on a fee basis) for self-inspection purposes.

The current records management system is broken. We can design something that would be more effective and cost less, as well.

Jennifer March 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Allen’s comment offers insight in NARA’s records management and provides needed consideration for the public and NARA’s future with historical and evidential documents. I agree that NARA’s main focus should be upon permanent records that supply historical and evidential purposes for the nation. However, I am a new federal employee and a recent graduate of archives and records management and I have observed instances that NARA’s involvement with temporary records in the federal realm to be very important to many government agencies. These governmental agencies do not have enough funding, supplies or even space to manage their own temporary records. The lack of understanding archival procedures and purpose may prohibit these government agencies to effectively manage their own records. This is why I consider NARA’s role in government record-keeping to be vital. NARA’s personnel have the advantage of understanding these processes in order to keep records adequately and without a conflict of interest. More importantly in cases of inadequate record-keeping on the government’s part, it is important to have an external resource.

I do agree that the management of governmental records needs to be revised. Especially when considering the creation and preservation of electronic records, but this also poses a difficult problem. Many governmental agencies continue to create physical records, which may be considered inappropriate in the 21st century. However, many of these physical records are temporary. Temporary records are created and destroyed under a specific retention schedule, which could be costly if made into an electronic record only to be later destroyed. Is this an efficient use of government money? Can these problems be reconciled? This is where it is going to take more time and effort to come up with something that is efficient and cost effective.

Arian Ravanbakhsh March 19, 2012 at 9:25 am

Thank you both for your comments. We’ll make sure that they get added to our work.

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