Policy group proposes records management portal

A committee charged with making recommendations on records management policies and procedures has unveiled a proposal for a governmentwide records management Web portal.

The project, dubbed Toolkit, may launch as early as fiscal year 2005, according to members of the Electronic Records Policy Working Group who spoke today at a meeting of the National Archives and Records Administration's Bimonthly Records and Information Discussion Group. The group is part of the Interagency Committee on Government Information.

Toolkit adopts the directions of a recent 200-participant report that states that federal employees do not recognize information as a business asset. Their marginal support for records management has led to a lack of training and tools, the report states.

"It would provide a place on the Internet that agencies could go to to find tools that facilitate effective management of electronic records," said Susan Sullivan, a member of the Electronic Records Management E-Gov team. "The Toolkit, right now, is just a concept that's being proposed."

Toolkit's contents, posted as online links, might be best practices, documents and lessons learned, officials said. A tool identification form, asking for proven and potentially useful tools, went out to federal personnel today.

No funding or timeline is available yet. The working group plans to manage metadata on the tools, providing user-friendly views and links. "This will be a proposed project team approach to find processes to manage the tools," Sullivan said, adding that she will rely heavily on e-mail feedback.

The Government Information Committee, mandated under Section 207 of the E-Government Act of 2002, was created in June 2003. The committee and its working groups were organized to draft recommendations to Office of Management and Budget and NARA officials about the access, dissemination and retention of federal information. The Electronic Records Management Initiative is one of 24 e-government initiatives promoted by the Bush administration.

Sternstein is a freelance writer in Potomac, Md.

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