With the 2016 election behind us, the eyes of America are now focused on President-elect Donald Trump and his transition from an underdog firebrand to the chief executive of the United States.

Based on the priorities that Trump has laid out for his first 100 days in office, we can reasonably expect that government operations will be subject to increased scrutiny as he looks to eliminate wasteful practices and run the government more like a lean and efficient business. Doing so demands that the government is able to extract renewed value from even the most routine processes.

Currently, the Obama administration is in the process of turning over an unprecedented number of government records to the archivist of the United States and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Obama administration is expected to turn over millions of physical records, but the factor that will make this transition unique is the massive increase in electronic records.

During President Bill Clinton’s transition, his administration transferred 20 million email records and 4 terabytes of electronic records. His successor, President George W. Bush, was responsible for transitioning an even higher number of records— 200 million email records and 80 terabytes of electronic records. These numbers will clearly skyrocket even further under the Obama administration given the online presence of the Obama White House, as well as the many digital government initiatives that the administration introduced.

Given these rising trends — and our current president-elect’s affinity for social media — we can reasonably assume that the Trump administration will be responsible for transitioning even more email and electronic records at the end of its tenure. That makes information governance a critically important issue for the incoming administration.

Under the leadership of the Obama administration, the government underwent a major shift regarding its reliance on physical versus digital records. While inefficient and error-prone policies like "print-and-file" were still overwhelmingly in use when Obama assumed office, his administration quickly positioned the government for modernization through initiatives like Cloud First and the Digital Government Strategy.

However, one of the most encouraging aspects of the administration’s modernization efforts was its recognition of the need for federal information governance modernization — a topic that has long been overlooked. To address this, Obama issued the Managing Government Records Directive ( M-12-18), which, among several other benchmark goals, called for all government agencies to manage all email records in an accessible, electronic format by the end of this year. But the directive’s final deadline stretches well into the Trump administration, calling for agencies to manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format by the end of 2019. As such, it is critical that Trump prioritizes the continuation of the records management policies set in place by M-12-18 and looks to make further modernization improvements to information governance practices.

While the directive’s mandate for all permanent electronic records to be stored in an accessible electronic format lays a solid groundwork for the government, much still needs to be done under the Trump administration. The first priority would be to ensure that inventories of agency-held information are continuously kept up-to-date, which requires the implementation of automated governance and retention policies. These automated capabilities will be crucial in the future for keeping agencies in line with baseline controls, apprised of any gaps in their information management strategy and up-to-date with the latest compliance requirements.

The opportunities for improvement are not limited solely to electronic records either. CBRE Group, Inc. estimates that upwards of 35 percent of federal commercial office space is being used to store temporary records. With the government currently trying to reduce its real property costs through initiatives like Reduce the Footprint, this is a serious problem as valuable space is consumed by boxes of physical records. These untenable practices come at no small cost to the government either. In ficasl 2010 — the last year in which cost by utilization data was reported — the government spent $9.69 billionoperating and maintaining over-utilized buildings.

Not only are these records taking up office real estate that could be put to better use, they are also being stored in an irresponsible and noncompliant manner since most office spaces do not meet stringent NARA standards for temperature control, fire resistance and a host of other regulations. Instead, the new administration should consider leveraging the power of the private sector, where tailor-made facilities provide more flexible and adaptive options for compliant federal records storage and preservation. These facilities also help to limit risks associated with lost or damaged records, while enhancing retention capabilities and ensuring records are continually accessible.

The Trump administration’s approach to information governance needs to account for both structured and unstructured information, with built-in flexibility that allows it to govern information regardless of format — physical or digital. Ultimately, the new strategy will come down to effectively balancing the inherent risks of information management against its expected benefits, which depends on minimizing risk while maximizing value.

For our new president, who campaigned on his business acumen, this should be familiar territory. The Obama administration made great strides in improving federal information management processes; the next administration can, and must, continue growing this progress. Whether or not the government seizes that opportunity for improvement and cost savings will be up to Trump.

Tyler Morris is director of product management for Iron Mountain. He is responsible for determining the company's government sector growth strategy and developing solutions for federal government customers.

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