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Obama administration orders shift from paper to electronic records

Aug. 24, 2012 - 04:47PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Jeff Zients, acting Office of Management and Budget director, speaks at a news conference.
Jeff Zients, acting Office of Management and Budget director, speaks at a news conference. (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

Agencies are “to eliminate paper and use electronic record-keeping” as much as possible in handling both classified and unclassified records, the Obama administration said Friday. And the Office of Personnel Management must create a career track for records management employees by the end of next year.

The new records management directive — a five-page memo from Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients and David Ferriero, head of the National Archives and Records Administration — also requires agencies to:

• Manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format by December 2019 — rather than printing out records of emails and other online records. By the end of next year, the Archives is supposed to issue new instructions for managing, disposing of and transferring email records.

• Consider records management issues when using cloud computing services for data storage.

• Explore the use of automated technologies to make recordkeeping easier.

Creation of a formal occupational series for records management employees will elevate the responsibilities and skill sets of agency records officers, Zients and Ferriero wrote.

Such employees are now classified under a potpourri of titles, such as information technology specialist, management analyst or program analyst. “It varies from agency to agency,” said Don Rosen, director of policy analysis and enforcement for the Archives’ chief records officer.

The memo, posted online, draws on agency feedback and on plans provided in response to an earlier directive from last November. Agencies have already named senior officials to oversee compliance with records management requirements. By December, Ferriero is supposed to convene those officials for the first in a series of meetings to discuss progress in implementing Friday’s directive. Beginning in October 2013, each agency is supposed to report annually to the Archives on where they stand on meeting the requirements.

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