NARA draft report calls for more fed involvement up front

A draft strategic plan issued by the National Archives and Records Administration calls for increased involvement in the "front-end" design of federal agencies' record-keeping systems.

"We see ourselves in the future providing more attention to the life cycle's front end, where record systems are designed, records are created and filing systems are organized. This will be a considerable change," the draft said.

NARA would work more actively with agencies and the private sector to set standards for dealing with records, in particular electronic records, according to the draft.

Currently, "NARA has less staff providing up-front agency guidance than there are federal departments, agencies, offices and boards to advise," the draft pointed out.

NARA "is trying to get out in front of the electronic records life cycle," said Tim Sprehe, president of Sprehe Information Management Associates, Washington, D.C. "[NARA] could presumably be trying to get agencies to schedule electronic records much earlier than they have in the past."

No funding requirements were laid out in the plan. A NARA spokeswoman stressed that the plan is a beginning framework for developing a more detailed document.

Archivist John Carlin issued the draft plan, which is intended to guide NARA for the next 10 years.

Last week NARA held two days of meetings with constituent groups to discuss the draft.

In addition to greater front-end records management life-cycle involvement, the draft strategic plan calls for:

Providing increased public electronic access to records descriptions.

Building a "practical, affordable" automated life-cycle system, which could be adopted by other agencies, for tracking and using records.

Developing a scalable, "high-capacity, cost-efficient information technology infrastructure" for supporting records administration and distribution.

Working with agencies and private-sector organizations to develop standards to preserve and access electronic records.

"I see this plan as stating more clearly than ever before that NARA is ready to take leadership in many areas of records management, including electronic rec-ords management, possibly in partnership with others," said John Kornacki, director of the Legislative Resource Center for the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

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