Group suggests ways to promote records management

The Electronic Records Policy Working Group's report outlines four obstacles.

Barriers to the Effective Management of Government Information on the Internet and Other Electronic Records

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Enhanced training programs will promote the integration of records management into agencies' processes, according to a report on barriers to effective governmentwide records management.

In the report, the Electronic Records Policy Working Group, part of the Interagency Committee on Government Information (ICGI), outlines four major obstacles to valuable records management procedures and proposes several possible solutions. The group's recommendations include: 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.

The draft report, released to ICGI last week, was the working group's first order of business. The group will also develop toolkits with guidance for records management. ICGI, mandated under Section 207 of the E-Government Act of 2002, was created in June 2003 to draft recommendations to Office of Management and Budget and National Archives and Records Administration officials about the access, dissemination and retention of federal information.

The first barrier identified in the report is that records are not managed as business assets or seen as the foundation of the organization's knowledge. The group suggested training and advocacy to promote records management and a toolkit to facilitate the management of large volumes of information assets.

"The primary approach for addressing this barrier involves providing training that reinforces the benefits of records and information management when applied as part of integrated strategy," the report states. "The [group] is also considering recommendations in line with NARA's advocacy program to demonstrate to senior agency officials why it is critical that agencies manage these assets effectively."

Records management is also not often incorporated into business processes, the report states. Although training was identified as a possible solution to this barrier, another approach is to include records management as a crosscutting layer in the federal enterprise architecture rather than a subcategory under one of the lines of business. The group also proposes the development of templates for enterprise architecture information associated with records management.

Training also surfaced as a solution for the final two barriers identified by the group, one of which is that marginal support for records management has led to a lack of tools and guidance. Although promoting support for the discipline can be difficult given an agency's culture, training initiatives can ease that problem, the report states.

It also states that records management and information technology are poorly integrated, a problem that requires awareness from both sides.

The records management initiatives "should address some of the awareness problems presented in this barrier by developing specific training modules for IT staff on [records management] issues," the report states. "Likewise, training will be encouraged for [records management] staff to promote a better understanding of IT terminology and technical concepts."

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