Letter: E-records management needs proper tools, funding

Regarding "Bill targets messy e-records": The greatest challenges involved in moving forward with this legislation are education/culture change and funding. There are many in the public and private sectors that still struggle with understanding what constitutes a record, and how to identify and manage them accordingly. In addition, tools are still not 'mature enough' to provide automated classification to accomplish much of what this legislation seeks to take place, so individuals will be required to assign record series (categories) to each item that meets the definition of a record prior to storing it in an ERM. This will require additional time and effort, along with extensive training of staff at a variety of levels. With funding decreasing and administrative staff being reduced across all federal agencies, this is not going to be easy to accomplish.

Additionally, the procurement and deployment of systems capable of accomplishing these requirements is far from inexpensive. In many cases, it may require the purchase of new and or additional hardware, upgrading of communications and security systems and networks, and plans for the 'care and feeding' of the content placed into these systems to meet the requirements of retention.

In the paper world, providing adequate physical and environmental protections are the main issues related to extended preservation and storage; in the electronic paradigm, there is a need for periodic conversion and migration of content to avoid format, platform and media obsolescence to provide persistent access to the information throughout its required retention.

I think to expect this to occur within four years of enactment of the legislation is unrealistic, unless it is accompanied by funding and staffing to accomplish it. Given the existing funding and/or lack thereof, this may be something that similar to many things in the federal arena amounts to another "unfunded mandate."

Larry Medina
Danville, Calif.


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