DOD shows grit with records work

Federal records management has claimed many a line in this space and throughout the newspaper. Despite the attention and the passage of time the lack of a coherent cohesive electronic records policy continues to endanger the nation's ability to preserve its historic trail.

The tendency is to point fingers charging either the courts or the administration with dropping the ball on the creation of a comprehensive policy to manage electronic records. As with most issues there is certainly enough blame to go around. But we would like to take this opportunity to applaud one group that is leading the way in the field. While other agencies cast about for clarification and guidance the Defense Department is moving ahead with a fresh set of standards for electronic records management systems.

The effort began nearly three years ago in an attempt to develop functional requirements for records management. Working closely with the National Archives and Records Administration DOD set about to define what functions generic records management software should be able to perform.

DOD will begin testing products for compliance with these standards perhaps as soon as next month. Even before the testing has begun some speculate that DOD's standard could be adopted throughout government. The Energy Department which has records issues similar to that of DOD is one of the agencies looking seriously at DOD's work. While the jury is still out on the success of the program we applaud DOD for its trailblazing efforts in the area of electronic records management - an area that receives a lot of attention but very little praise.

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