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Wi-FiIn our first post, the Records Management Policy Team explored a bit of the current environment for mobile work in the Federal government and the reality that employees are using their mobile devices to conduct agency business. In this second post, we will review the risks and records management considerations for Federal agencies.

When Federal employees work in mobile environments, they will likely be creating records. Depending on how the mobile devices are set up, they could be accessing, downloading, or storing files on their devices – either securely or insecurely. According to various industry studies and surveys, Federal employees are carrying out these activities regardless of whether their agency has a BYOD or a mobile device use policy. This is to say, whether or not agencies have embraced mobility, their employees are using these tools to perform their mission.

Clearly, mobility offers new way for employees to create, maintain and dispose of Federal records and information. So, what are the risks?

According to NIST’s Guidelines for Managing the Security of Mobile Devices in the Enterprise, “Mobile device features are constantly changing, so it is difficult to define the term ‘mobile device’. However, as features change, so do threats and security controls, so it is important to establish a baseline of mobile device features.” When employees use devices without following agency policies or lack mobile device management tools, they open themselves and their agencies up to information, transmission, and operational security risks. These risks include:

  • Lost or stolen devices that contain Federal records

  • Device misuse (mobile device jailbreaking or rooting)

  • Inconsistent mobile device data protection policies

  • Legal issues related to e-discovery, confiscation rights, wiping rights, and liability issues

  • Lack of interoperability for content and systems

  • Insufficient data encryption

  • Using apps not approved by the agency that may be malicious. Applications in turn have access to address books, GPS data, text messages or internal networks.

  • Inadequate integration with agency network access control and endpoint management

  • Increased costs for the agency to support different mobile platforms and acquire more software licenses for the same user

  • Mobile malware or spyware and malicious texting or SMSing

To complement these broader risks and concerns we’ve identified several implications for records management. Agencies may face many of the following challenges when managing records in a mobile environment:

  • Identification of records when content may be located in multiple places

  • Capture of complete records in a manner that ensures their authenticity and availability when records frequently change and are located in many places

  • Data being stored or replicated on the device or in an application instead of only being accessible from a central repository

  • Development and implementation of records schedules, including the ability to transfer and permanently delete records, apply legal holds, or perform other records management functions when it is unclear where records reside

  • Ownership and control of data that resides with a third party

  • Unsecured content

  • Reliance on individuals to follow agency policies

  • Creation of agency policies to address how personal devices and personal information would be handled in the case of investigations or requests for information

  • Sources and formats of records will continue to change and it may be difficult for agency records management policies, processes, and technology to keep up.

Have you seen these risks? Are there any risks we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

Stay tuned for the third and final post next week for a discussion on how we can begin to address these challenges.

Image credit: “Wi-Fi” by Fuma Ren under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Another Records Management position has opened here at the National Archives. We have just posted our Director of Corporate Records Management Position (GS-0301-15) on USA Jobs. This position is open for Merit Promotion candidates and closes on April 1, 2014. We encourage all qualified candidates to consider this critical records management leadership position.

Also, we want to take this opportunity to recognize Susan Sullivan, our current Director of Corporate Records Management, who is leaving Federal service. Thank you Susan for all of your service and leadership in the Federal Records community. We will see you on the ski slopes!


The following FRC Memorandum was issued this afternoon.

FRC MEMORANDUM TO FEDERAL AGENCY CONTACTS: Anchorage Facility Closure and Relocation of Records

The National Archives and Records Administration is closing our facility in Anchorage, Alaska, and transferring all of the holdings currently stored at that location to our 36 CFR 1234 compliant facility in Seattle, Washington (

The Seattle FRC, in operation since November 16, 1963, has a seasoned and well trained staff that will be able to meet all of your records center needs.  Reference services will continue to be shipped within 24-hours of the receipt of requests and notifications will be provided when your records become eligible for disposition. Customers needing to transfer records should contact the Seattle FRC Transfer and Disposition team at (206) 336-5122 or

In addition, those Alaska Federal offices that were receiving records management assistance will continue to receive it from NARA’s Office of the Chief Records Officer’s Agency Assistance team. For more information about this service, please contact Bill Greathouse, the Agency Assistance team leader, on (206) 336-5145 or

The Federal Records Centers Program (FRCP) is doing everything it can to ensure that our customers transition to the Seattle facility is as easy as possible. FRCP Account Managers will be reaching out to all affected customers and working with you throughout the transition period.

All other FRCs remain open and will continue to receive and service records as usual. Customers who do not currently do business with the Anchorage facility will not be affected by this closure.

Please send any comments or questions to Steven Ourada, Seattle FRC Director, at(206) 336-5143 or


The following blog post reflects the thoughts of NARA’s Records Management Policy Team on the topic of managing records in a mobile environment. We will explore the benefits, records management implications, and best practices that have emerged to address these challenges in a series of three blog posts. The team is not at the point of creating formal guidance, but we would like to have a discussion with agencies about their ideas, thoughts, and concerns on this topic. Please join the discussion in the comment section.

In this first post, we explore the current mobile environment and the many benefits to agencies. In May 2012, the White House issued the Digital Government Strategy with three objectives:

  1. Enable the American people and an increasingly mobile workforce to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device.

  2. Ensure that, as the government adjusts to this new digital world, we seize the opportunity to procure and manage devices, applications, and data in smart, secure and affordable ways.

  3. Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation across our Nation and improve the quality of services for the American people.

This strategy pushes agencies to create an environment for mobility by offering government information, data, and services to the American people and their increasingly mobile workforce wherever they are and whenever they want. Agencies are encouraged to create an “information-centric” environment with the goals of interoperability and openness. This has led many agencies to provide employees with the capability to access government assets or environments through agency provided applications or thin clients when they are not in the office.

Additionally, the increasing use of mobile devices is one of the latest trends in improving how Federal employees perform their work. Mobile devices allow employees to access agency email, databases, resources, and systems while not at their desk.

Federal agencies often provide their employees with smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to perform work and meet the agencies’ mission. Agencies are increasingly adopting policies that support  “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD where employees can use their own devices to perform government work. According to Robert Brese the Chief Information Officer at the Department of Energy, “[I]t’s just a matter of when, not if we will all be bringing our own mobile devices to the work environment.” Since the release of the Digital Government Strategy, a number of agencies have piloted BYOD programs and shared their lessons learned.

Some of the benefits for working in a mobile environment include:

  • Reduced costs for the agency by not having to provide government furnished equipment

  • Increased employee choice over the types of devices used for work

  • Increased employee productivity and flexibility when employees can work when and where they want

  • Adaptability to a changing workforce and improved job satisfaction

  • Easier sharing of resources among employees and their customers

What do you think about the increased use of mobility in the Federal government? Is this a trend you see in your agency?  Please comment below.

In future posts, we will look at records management implications and discuss how Federal records management may be affected.

Image credit: “Wi-Fi” by Fuma Ren under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

We are pleased to announce that NARA is now seeking applications for the position of Director, National Records Management Training Program. This is a high-profile position responsible for overseeing NARA’s nationwide RM training activities including face-to-face and online instruction, content development, and management of NARA’s Certificate of Federal Records Management Training program. The opening closes on March 28. Additional position information and instructions on how to apply are included in the following links.

Vacancy Announcements for the position of Supervisory Instructional Systems Specialist, GS-1750-15  have been posted on the USAJOBS website.

JD1068837SHM (Merit Promotion – Government Wide) and

JD1069884SHD (Public Notice)

For general information about working for the National Archives, please visit:


September 2014
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