Group outlines records problems

The Accessibility Forum Web site

A committee charged with making recommendations on records management policies and procedures has identified challenges to effective management.

The Electronic Records Policy Working Group, part of the Interagency Committee on Government Information (ICGI), is expected to publish a report on these challenges by July 1, officials said today.

The so-called barrier report is "framed in the current operating environment," said Nancy Allard, a senior policy specialist at the National Archives and Records Administration and a member of the working group, speaking this morning at an AFCEA Bethesda event.

"We're exploring the next direction we should take," Allard said. "We want input on that and if we have identified the barriers right."

Allard previewed four electronic records management obstacles outlined in the report:

Records and information are not managed as business assets.

Records management is not viewed as critical; it's seen as an afterthought and is often not incorporated into the business processes.

Marginal support for records management, which has led to a lack of training and tools.

Records management and information technology disciplines are poorly integrated within agencies and the two sides often don't speak each other's language.

ICGI, mandated under Section 207 of the E-Government Act of 2002, was created in June 2003. The committee and its working groups are tasked with drafting recommendations to Office of Management and Budget and NARA officials about the access, dissemination and retention of federal information.

Another mandate of the E-Government Act is that agencies must continue to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires that technology be accessible to people with disabilities. To help agencies meet those goals, General Services Administration officials have developed several tools and surveys for agency officials. The latest tool, the Buy Accessible Wizard, will soon allow officials to determine which of the Section 508 provisions apply to a specific acquisition, said Terry Weaver, director of GSA's IT Accommodation Division in the Office of E-Government and Technology.

Weaver said users answer a series of questions about the agency's needs and the wizard combs through the law's specific provisions and determines which apply to the acquisition. The first iteration is being tested at five agencies, and the product will be available governmentwide Oct. 1.

Weaver said the tool will allow agency officials to make more educated acquisition decisions, rather than relying on company officials' word that their products meet the standards.

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