Will 2016 be the year the government gets email under control?

Agencies have until the end of 2016 to manage email records in electronic format, and early reports suggest that success may be possible.

file folders on a background with binary code

There is no shortage of senior government officials whose email practices generate media scandal and congressional investigations. But lost messages and private accounts could be a thing of the past under an Obama administration information management policy that requires agencies to manage all government email that qualifies as permanent or temporary records in electronic format.

That means agencies must have a way of retaining email records in an electronic system that allows for managing and retrieving records and supports litigation needs, open-government requests and other archival purposes.

According to a report released on Dec. 15 by the National Archives and Records Administration, 93 percent of records managers say they are on track to meet the goal of managing all email electronically by Dec. 31, 2016. There were a few laggards -- most notably the Commerce Department, which did not respond to repeated requests for records management updates -- but NARA said it received 84 reports, for a compliance rate of 94 percent.

"At this point, we're not aware of any agencies that definitively will not make it," Laurence Brewer, NARA’s acting chief records officer, told FCW. "The 2016 target is an important one. We do expect all agencies to meet that target. But we do realize that it may not be realistic for 100 percent of agencies given the complexities of their email systems [and] funding priorities, and of course, now we have a presidential transition that's looming."

Brewer said nearly 80 percent of agencies "report that they have policies and procedures to manage their email." In addition, a majority told NARA they plan to implement the agency's Capstone approach to email management, which identifies accounts of key senior officials and key job functions for automatic preservation.

The approach is designed to take some of the guesswork out of email management and push agencies into greater levels of automation. It also seeks to eliminate old-fashioned practices such as manually dragging selected emails into folders for preservation -- the digital equivalent of the print-to-file method.

"It's a way of taking records management out of the hands of the user and putting it behind the scenes where your IT identifies the roles and then uses the technology to capture the accounts," Brewer said.

NARA will know more about agencies’ progress toward meeting the 2016 goal after they complete the records management self-assessment survey on Jan. 29.      

"We have included very specific and additional questions related to email because it is going to be 2016," Brewer said.

NARA officials also intend to give agencies a clearer picture of what success looks like by releasing criteria early next year that tells agencies in more granular detail what they must do to meet the target.

NARA is growing to meet its new responsibilities. Under a 2014 update to federal records laws, the agency got new oversight and inspection authority. To support that, the Office of the Chief Records Officer has grown and reorganized, and NARA expanded its complement of employees with the technical expertise to help agency records officers delve into the details of email systems.

"Through all this, we hope to be able to provide more feedback to agencies and then be able to report out to you and others who have an interest" in agencies’ progress toward meeting that target, Brewer said.

A longtime official at NARA, Brewer is leading the agency on an acting basis. Paul Wester, the first person to hold the chief records officer title, stepped down in October. Brewer has deep roots in NARA and as a records management executive, so the agency does not appear to be missing a beat during the transition to a new chief records officer. The posting for the job has closed, and NARA officials said they hope to have the position filled by spring 2016.

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.