OMB to extend digital records deadlines by 18 months
Federal Chief Records Officer Laurence Brewer said an 18-month extension was being finalized to shift the completion of the governmentwide transition to electronic records to June 2024.
Federal records managers will likely get reprieve from a looming year-end deadline to transfer records in electronic format to the National Archives.
Federal Chief Records Officer Laurence Brewer said an 18-month extension was being finalized at the Office of Management and Budget to shift the completion of the governmentwide transition to electronic records to June 2024.
The goals of the shift, outlined in a June 2019 OMB memo, will remain the same, Brewer said at an online meeting of federal records officers held earlier this month.
The deadline was originally set in a draft records policy going back to 2017 and covers the management of permanent records and temporary records and calls for the closure of agency-operated records storage facilities and the transfer of materials stored there to Federal Records Centers. The extension to June 2024 covers all these aspects of the policy.
Brewer said that existing requests for exemptions and exceptions to the policy will still be reviewed at the National Archives and Records Administration, but noted that in light of the extension, records officers should consider "whether you need to develop an exception request, or if the one you have submitted has been overtaken by events."
According to NARA's latest annual report on records management, agencies were optimistic early on about their plans to hit the year-end 2022 deadlines. In 2019, more than 90% of agencies said they would be able to meet the 2022 targets, but by 2021 about a third of agencies said they would need more time. Agencies reported headwinds from COVID-19, which slowed in-person digitization efforts, as well as dependencies on paper-based processes, and complex IT systems and change management challenges.
In a 2020 FCW roundtable with federal records managers and vendors, participants noted multiple human resources issues including a lack of technical expertise among records management staff.
"We are understaffed [but] more importantly, we don’t even understand the scope of technology that’s out there. There are so many things that are combined now with different kinds of formats together, and we can’t figure out how to actually save all that so that it could be wrapped up in a work file or in some other method. So we’re challenged every day by the stuff that comes in the door," one participant stated.