House passes e-records management bill

Legislation would give NARA increased role in federal, presidential recordkeeping

The House has again passed a measure that would amend federal records law to ensure the government properly preserves electronic messages and deploys the necessary information technology to do so.

The bill would increase the National Archives and Records Administration’s authority over the oversight of federal and presidential recordkeeping practices. The House passed a similar bill in 2008, but the Senate never passed the legislation.

Under the Electronic Message Preservation Act, passed by a voice vote March 17, the head of NARA would have to issue regulations requiring that agencies preserve electronic records in a digital format in systems that meet minimum functional requirements.


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Government auditors have found that without a statutory prescription for maintaining electronic records, agencies print and file them as they would paper documents.

The head of NARA would also have to establish standards for the capture, management and preservation of electronic messages that are presidential records and annually certify the management controls put in place by the administration.

The measure would give NARA greater authority in that recordkeeping. Such an expansion was opposed by the second Bush administration on the grounds that it would upset the balance of separation of powers.

Meanwhile, David Ferriero, the current head of NARA, supports the goals of the House bill. The measure has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for consideration.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 Ken Matthews Washington DC

We wonder what it will take for Agency's to realize their responsibility to E-Mail and other forms of Electronic Records Management. The time is now for an insurgence of effective Electronic Records Management. Developments such as this may be a catalyst to spur such efforts.

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