NARA gives guidance on shared drives and asks for feedback

Some federal agencies have benefited by using shared drives as a recordkeeping solution, while others have found it challenging, according to a new draft guidance bulletin from the National Archives and Records Administration.

NARA now is seeking input from federal agencies by Oct. 27 for its next official guidance on shared drives.

“NARA recognizes agencies have long used shared drives to store content," the archives agency said in a statement accompanying the draft guidance. “Agencies have had varying degrees of success in managing the Federal records on shared drives. “

Shared drives, also known as network drives, are typically used to store and share content such as word-processing documents, scanned and photographic images, audio, video, spreadsheets,presentations, and databases. With proper policies and procedures, a shared drive can be a recordkeeping solution.

Best practices for shared drives include:

  • Develop appropriate policies such as permissions, access controls and acceptable formats for filing records long-term.
  • Identify staff points of contact responsible for shared drive management.
  • Perform a risk analysis to determine if the shared drive can provide a sufficient audit trail.
  • Identify personal materials and non-records to ensure they are maintained separate from the federal records in the shared drive.
  • Identify the record copy and maintain it in an area designated for Federal records.
  • Establish and enforce naming conventions for folders, sub-folders, and files.
  • Structure the folders and sub-folders to correspond to disposition schedules
  • Use metadata and file plans to link related files.
  • Work with IT staff to ensure the integrity of the shared drive.
  • Maintain training for staff in use of the shared drive.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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