Is a paperless government by 2019 too much to ask?

To accomplish the goals laid out in the Obama administration's recent records management directive will take money, IT and employee training -- three things the government is short on these days.

Bluntly put, a paperless government in seven years will be very hard to achieve -- possibly impossible -- although the National Archives and Records Administration deserves kudos for suggesting the grand vision, a records management company expert said Aug. 27.

President Barack Obama released a records management directive Aug. 24, in which he handed agencies two goals.

One is that the federal government be paperless by Dec. 31, 2019. Agencies will need to manage all their permanent records electronically‑to the fullest extent possible‑for eventual transfer and accessioning by NARA in an electronic format. Officials must have plans to do so by Dec. 31, 2013.

The other is that agencies will manage permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format by Dec. 31, 2016. Officials will have to retain their email records in an appropriate electronic system that supports records management and litigation requirements, including the ability to identify and retrieve records “for as long as they are needed.”

Also, beginning one year from now, each agency must report annually to the Office of Management and Budget and NARA on the status of its progress toward the goals.

This directive will take a lot of money, IT and employee training, said Mary Murley, program manager at Iron Mountain Consulting Services.

“The directive proposes an ambitious vision for creating a digital foundation,” she said. “This is an enormous undertaking for all agencies involved. It will not be easy, and it will require significant time, resources and budget.”

Federal officials see the initiative as turning point in management history.

“This is an historic moment for all of us charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the records of the country are being managed in a manner that will allow current and future generations to hold their government accountable and to learn from the past,” David Ferriero, U.S. Archivist, wrote Aug. 24 on his AOTUS National Archives blog.

The president writes in the memo that “records protect the rights and interests of people and hold officials accountable for their actions. Permanent records document our nation’s history” and “well-managed records can be used to assess the impact of programs, to improve business processes, and to share knowledge across the government.”

“Records are the foundation of open government, supporting the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration,” he adds.

The vision is grand, but it may be too grand to accomplish. There is a path to success, however, Murley said.

“It can be found by incorporating many of the records management best practices proven out in private industry, including: senior level accountability, organization-wide training requirements, stronger/stricter record retention schedules, and more,” she said.

According to a survey of 100 federal records managers in July, 93 percent of them said their agencies have prioritized improving records management processes and 85 percent said they personally support the president’s memo from November, which set off the change in how the Executive Branch views its records. Along with creating new records management systems that use new technologies, the memo from November directed agencies to appoint a senior official to work with NARA and supervise the records reforms.

In the survey though, records managers overall were confident in their skills for record-keeping, but they have their weak spots. Only 9 percent said they were “very strong” when it came to using cloud-based applications to store data, and only 51 percent are comfortable in their ability to store and manage electronic data too.

But the hurdles linger: money and support. The success of the directive from 2011 may rest on federal records managers’ developing new skills as 71 percent cited a need for training as their top concern. Sixty-eight and 61 percent named staff and budget resources, respectively, as additional worries.

Those problems may hinder this directive too. Agencies have to have enough money to invest in developing the new electronic system, as well as working with consultants on how to proceed. They need the technology, the resources and training if they plan to comply with the seven-year deadline, Murley said.

Meanwhile, agencies are preparing for the immediate future to survive for several months under a continuing resolution. They don’t see growth in their budgets as the administration, though in its last leg of this term, has agencies continuing to scratch away layer after layer of spending to survive the budget crunch.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.