Letter to the editor

The condition of records management in the federal government is poor if not even worse. This is especially true in the Defense Department military components. There are no penalties for destroying records, even permanent ones.

Automation-type personnel are not concerned about keeping records. If this was untrue, why would we have computer programs that don't maintain records for the correct length of time, which requires records managers to put the records on paper to maintain.

The FBI being caught is just the tip of a huge iceberg. No amount of information technology is going to help until the IT personnel realize that records management is important. They must include records managers in their creation of computer programs and their purchases of off-the-shelf programs.

Try asking the secretary of Defense or secretaries of the military components the name of their records manager. Bet they don't know. They are supposed to have one. However, I bet they can tell you the name of their chief information officer.

Remember, the CIO is an automation person, not a records manager. I bet the CIO lacks a records manager on his/her personal staff. Congress did not raise enough stink about the Desert Storm records problem. A tremendous amount of government records were destroyed. The government can track where every unit was each day during the Civil War. It cannot do the same for Desert Storm. What does that say about automation?

Name withheld by request

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