National Treasure: the Integrity of Federal Records

By Scott Mackey, September-13-11 | Permalink

National Archives and Records Management NARA Here's a startling statistic: as many as 95 percent of federal agencies are at high to moderate levels of non-compliance with statutory and regulatory records management requirements, according to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in the US. NARA's 2010 Records Management Self Assessment Report discloses that...

  • A significant number of agencies employ a records officer  (the  main  agency  point  of  contact). who  does  not  perform  records management duties on a full-time basis.
  • These agencies do not have records management resources adequate for the size of the agency.
  • Records management programs in many agencies do not ensure that e-mail records are preserved in a recordkeeping system.

Before we get too critical of the federal agencies, it should be noted that there are some pretty significant challenges facing them when it comes to the management of electronics records:

  1. Scope: The entire federal government
  2. Variety: Different types of records
  3. Complexity: Records in different formats
  4. Volume: Enormous amounts of records
  5. Obsolescence: Constantly changing technology

NARA's findings about federal agencies' performance in records management are so distressing because those records are really national assets; they are essential to upholding the principles of government transparency and accountability. The people who use federal records – citizens, government officials, researchers – must be able to have confidence in their integrity, authenticity, and reliability. As NARA states in its strategic plan:

"It is our vision that all Americans will understand the vital role records play in a democracy... available to more people than ever before through modern technology and dynamic partnerships....We must continue to work with agencies to help them seamlessly incorporate records managment into their business processes and information systems."

That's where we come in. Our compliance solution - with the ability to automate and therefore reduce manual effort and errors - has helped e-government move in that direction for a while now. We count among our customers many federal agencies in the United States, Canada and Europe who have dramatically improved their government departments' transparency and accountability through working with us.

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