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A3.1 Report Released

by on September 19, 2014


You may recall that earlier this year, we issued a draft of the Automated Records Management Report and Plan. This document has now been finalized and is available here.

The report addresses categories of suitable approaches for automating electronic records management and discusses their outcomes, benefits, and risks.  It covers the goals of electronic records automation, what work we have accomplished to date, our stance on DOD 5015.2, and a framework of 5 suitable approaches to automation that the Federal government can pursue.

The plan, on the other hand, will remain a living document.  It will be revised at least once a year as we complete initial tasks and assess the feasibility of the initiatives we will start exploring in the first year. We are in the process of launching a website where we centralize the information about all of our activity related to this project.



We have received a number of comments from agencies about the new flexible disposition instructions in the GRS and want to provide some additional explanation as to why we have taken this approach and how agencies can use and benefit from these instructions.

Purpose of Flexible GRS Instructions

The GRS is not like agency schedules. It has to apply to all agencies throughout the federal government and not all agencies have the exact same retention needs for records. We have approached the GRS instructions as guidelines for agencies in retaining their records: we establish basic retention requirements, usually minimum retentions, but otherwise leave it to the agency to determine their business needs for the record. In other words, NARA sees no need to review disposition instructions for records covered by the GRS as long as they meet basic retention requirements.

The benefits of this approach are:

  • GRS disposition instructions make it clear what the basic retention requirements are and when they can be longer or shorter.
  • Agencies don’t have to request deviations to the GRS as long as their retention falls within the parameters of the GRS instruction.
  • The new instructions make clear which items can be bucketed to the longest common retention.
  • We can potentially cover more temporary items in the GRS, even if agencies have different retention needs.
  • Agencies may find that all they have to do to implement the new GRS is update disposition authorities.

How to Implement Flexible Instructions

Implementation is going to take some work, but then updating agency schedules to match the new GRS is going to take some work anyway. Agencies should update their schedules to reflect new GRS items and in doing so determine what the appropriate retention is for your agency. You may:

  • Use only the minimum retention: do not use “Longer retention is authorized for business use” in disposition manuals.
  • Set a specific retention or retention band within the parameters established by the GRS.
    • For example, if the GRS says “Destroy when 3 years old; longer retention is authorized for business use,” then the agency may say “Destroy when 5 years old.”
  • Use disposition instruction exactly as written, leaving specific retentions up to offices or individual users.

In some cases you may not have to do anything other than update the GRS disposition authority. The flexible instructions should benefit agencies that have or are implementing bucket schedules. For example, an agency that has scheduled procurement records in a 7 year bucket can cite new GRS 1.1, item 010, because it sets a minimum retention of 6 years, but allows for longer retention. It will also benefit agencies that have their own items for records that are new to the GRS. As long as the agency retention falls into the parameters of the GRS you can site the GRS instead of informing NARA that you will be using your own authority.

We understand that the flexible disposition instructions may still cause some confusion. We will be conducting a customer satisfaction survey in 2015 to get some feedback from agencies on how implementation of new GRS, including the flexible schedules, is going. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact GRS_Team@nara.gov. We are happy to be of assistance.

GRS Transmittal 23

by on September 17, 2014


The Office of the Chief Records Officer is happy to announce the publication of GRS Transmittal 23 (.pdf). This transmittal makes available five new General Records Schedules:

  • GRS 1.1: Financial Management and Reporting Records
  • GRS 1.2: Grant and Cooperative Agreement Records
  • GRS 3.1: General Technology Management Records
  • GRS 3.2: Information System Security Records
  • GRS 4.3: Input Records, Output Records, and Electronic Copies

It also includes the “old” General Records Schedules marked up to show superseded and active items as well as guidance and tools to help with implementation.

What is a GRS Transmittal?

A GRS Transmittal is how NARA issues new General Records Schedules. New schedules are not available for use until they are formally transmitted to agencies. Long ago, NARA issued a complete version of the GRS in each transmittal, then we gradually shifted to issuing only new parts of the GRS. As we are now in the process of revising all schedules, we will be issuing a complete new version of the GRS in each transmittal. These transmittals will include both the new schedules as well as the old schedules that still have active items. Not all items on each of the old schedules will be superseded at once due to the way we are revising the GRS.

Guidance and Tools in GRS Transmittal 23

  • Crosswalks showing the relationships between both new to old and old to new items.
  • Schedule specific FAQs.
  • FAQs about the GRS in general as well as the GRS update project.
  • An implementation checklist to help walk agencies through the steps of updating their records disposition manuals to match the new GRS.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Agency Records Officers must disseminate the new schedules within their agencies no later than March 2015.
  • Use of the new GRS is mandatory and applies retrospectively and day-forward for all described records.
  • If your agency intends to use agency-specific schedule items instead of the new General Records Schedules, you must inform GRS_Team@nara.gov within 120 days. You will need to provide the agency-specific schedule and item number as well as the related GRS item.

For more information, please visit the GRS webpage or contact the team at GRS_Team@nara.gov.

Release of OMB M-14-16

by on September 16, 2014


Yesterday, the Office of Management and Budget and the National Archives released a Memorandum (.pdf)  to the heads of agencies on Guidance for Managing Email. This Memorandum also includes NARA Bulletin 2014-06.

This Memorandum reinforces the importance for each agency to manage their email properly and the need for all Federal employees to be aware of their responsibilities for managing email records. As you know, this has been an important issue for Congress and the Administration over the last few months. It is also an animating issue as we continue to work towards the goal in the Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M-12-18) that all email be managed electronically by the end of 2016.

Our Bulletin 2014-06 reminds agency heads of existing NARA guidance and resources to assist in managing email. This includes our Capstone Bulletin and other resources located here.

 

 



Sometimes, you get so caught up in the day-to-day world of work that it is easy to overlook some significant milestones. The end of August is the time of year when our office has two significant milestones to celebrate. In 2012, the Managing Government Records Directive was released on August 24. And on August 29, 2013, we issued the groundbreaking Capstone approach to managing email. Earlier this week, we took time to mark these milestones, with, what else, cake.

Image of two cakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our staff enjoyed the opportunity to take a few moments to mark all the work that has been accomplished over the last few years. It’s been a busy few years and we anticipate it will get even more busy as all of us in the Federal records community work toward the 2016 and 2019 goals in the Directive. Use the comments to let us know how we are doing. Stay tuned.

And yes, no Federal records were harmed in the baking, cutting or consuming of these cakes.

Chief Records Officer for the US Government Paul Wester cutting into the cakes

Chief Records Officer for the US Government Paul Wester cutting into the cakes

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