Archives reconsidering records policies, formats
- By William Matthews
- Mar 23, 2000
Saying it is time to confront the reality of electronic records, John Carlin,
national archivist, said he is ready to reconsider the policies that determine
which of the billions of records the federal government creates each year
have to be saved, and in what format.
Carlin announced Wednesday he plans, if necessary, to "reinvent the policies
and process for scheduling" federal records. "Scheduling" is the term the
National Archives and Records Administration uses for deciding how long
records must be saved.
In 1995, Carlin provoked an outcry and multiple lawsuits when he told agencies
they could destroy certain electronic records if they made and saved paper
Carlin was sued and lost; then he appealed and won. This month, the Supreme
Court settled the matter by refusing to hear another appeal.
In the meantime, NARA officials have made creating an electronic records
archive a major priority, and Carlin says it is time to re-examine records
management policies that were developed to handle paper records.
They were appropriate for the 20th century, Carlin said in a statement.
"The reality at the beginning of the 21st century is that most records
are created electronically and may be maintained in a variety of media,"
Deputy Archivist Lewis Bellardo has been assigned to head a fact-finding
effort that is expected to lead to record scheduling policies for electronic