2019? You’ve got to be kidding me!

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2019? You’ve got to be kidding me!

On August 24th, 2012 President Obama signed the Presidential Memorandum – Managing Government Records. The directive, issued by National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Office of Management and Budget, sets a number of incremental goals ahead of the end-of-the-decade deadline. Agencies are required to appoint a senior official to oversee records management and to beef up training surrounding records policy. The guidance also includes key steps agencies should begin taking to archive digital forms of communication, such as email and social media.

According to NARA, about 95% of agencies fail to meet current statutory for maintaining electronic records. Agencies aren’t required to turn over most records to NARA until 30 years after they are created. That has made storing records in electronic formats such as Word documents or PDFs difficult because the technology to read them may be prohibitively expensive or nonexistent in 30 years, or less.

The question that comes to my mind is why 2019? We have several federal clients who are actively solving records management and enforcing records policy. Today. The same thought must be going through a lot of minds. According to Anne Weismann, chief counsel at the Center for Responsibility and Ethics, a major transparency group “Records management just isn’t given enough priority within agencies and it differs from agency to agency. They could have said 2014 and that still wouldn’t have been fast enough for me, but I could have lived with it. But this is a very long deadline. I think it’s very easy for agencies not to do this. It’s an area where agencies don’t want to spend their limited dollars and I think they need a huge push.”

One cannot question the benefits of government modernization. Federal government agencies face unique obstacles specifically due to budgetary challenges and identifying sources of change for both policy and/or operational improvements is a priority. The real challenge is to transform these ideas into action. The objective is to not only achieve cost reductions, but capture technology and adopt innovative practices that make government more productive and transparent. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero has suggested moving up the deadline to turn data over to the Archives to the end of the presidential administration during which the document was created.

Sounds like a good plan to me.