E-records group proposes council

A federal records council would help overcome major obstacles to electronics records management procedures, according to a draft report from a group devoted to the issue.

In the paper, members of the Electronic Records Policy Working Group of the Interagency Committee on Government Information call for the establishment of a Federal Records Council to help agencies, the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency and the CIO Council implement the committee's recommendations to:

* Promote greater accountability for records management.

* Support agencies through effective leadership and clear records management guidance. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget and the National Archives and Records Administration should work together to provide agencies with clear, nonconflicting guidance on information management that is easily identifiable and widely available, according to the draft report. It proposes that NARA officials sponsor and manage a central Internet portal for agencies to share and obtain proven information and records management guidance.

* Create a records management profile in the federal enterprise architecture.

Under the group's plan, the Federal Records Council would provide a formal mechanism for agencies to share experiences and work together to identify strategies, best practices and solutions to electronic information and records issues. Interagency Committee members seek comments on the draft report.

The document calls for promoting training programs to reinforce the benefits of records management, demonstrating the need for incorporating it into business processes and providing the necessary skills for information management. This summer, enhanced training programs will promote the integration of records management into agencies' processes, in a report on barriers to effective governmentwide records management, according to the Electronics Records group.

"I think they are a huge step in the right direction," said Patrice McDermott, deputy director of the Office of Government Relations at the American Library Association. "For years, NARA's been saying they don't have the authority to enforce compliance. These recommendations lay out some pretty clear steps."

She added that NARA must now work with the Office of Management and Budget and agencies' inspector generals for compliance.

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