Preparing for the Transition to Electronic Records
The US Government knew they needed to get a handle on the inefficiencies they experienced with paper records. Several factors influenced the decision to improve record management processes, including the business case need for electronic record keeping (ERK), and the alignment of ERK with the agency’s mission and strategic initiatives. Additional factors, such as legal, statutory, and regulatory requirements also played a part in the verdict. Ultimately, agencies determined they needed a more up to date system for managing enormous amounts of records.
To modernize government record keeping, NARA and the Whitehouse decided to create a new, 21st-century framework for government record management. In conjunction with their colleagues at NARA, the White House issued the NARA M-19-21 mandate.
By the end of 2019, Federal Agencies must manage all permanent records electronically. By 2022, they must also manage temporary records the same way. This mandate applies to all electronic records, regardless of where they live. Although this law applies mostly to Senior Agency Officials for Record Management (SAORM), and Agency Records Officers, it’s essential that all
government employees take proactive measures to safeguard records per this new policy.
According to the National Archives and Records Administration: Criteria for Successfully Managing Permanent Electronic Records, there are four high-level view components to successfully managing electronic records. The first criteria suggest administering company-wide polices that explain how employees are expected to manage electronic records. Next, to help with educating employees about record responsibilities, training programs should be enforced, and record requirements need to be considered throughout the development process to make sure that the selected automated system supports these requirements. Secure record keeping is vital, but agency employees should also be able to access records when needed. Furthermore, documents must be transferred to NARA in the appropriate format with the correct metadata.
In addition to high-level view components, there are also operational activities and universal electronic records management requirements that NARA recommends for successfully managing permanent electronic records. For example, at an executive level, agencies should regularly review record schedules to assess whether records have become obsolete or superseded, consult stakeholders to confirm the owners of permanent electronic records, and maintain the ERM system for the duration of their retention periods.
NARA cites several more examples, and agencies should visit NARA’s website to view the complete list of suggested activities and requirements.
Government Agencies Should Look to a Technology solution
For agencies who still need to digitalize their records, the mandate’s deadline is swiftly approaching; the time to act is now. Agencies should consider Feith’s solution to help successfully digitalize and manage their records. The Feith team has helped guide countless government agencies during their transition from paper to electronic records. This is what we’ve learned over the years, while making other organizations M-19-21 Compliant.
Government agencies should look for an ERM technology that allows for:
- Compatibility with Existing Tools: Because agencies store so many records in applications such as SharePoint or Excel, the system needs to integrate with these other platforms so it’s simple to transfer documents from one system to the next.
- Accessibility: As part of the new mandate, federal employees should be able to access records as needed. A centralized system makes accessing documents fast and easy for agency workers. Furthermore, there should be advanced search features such as filtering and sorting of data so that employees can find and access data efficiently.
- Security: The system should provide a high level of security so that unauthorized parties can’t gain access to the sensitive information.
- Streamlined Processes: Agencies manage vast amounts of records, and so to stay on top of everything, it’s critical that the system streamlines complex processes and improves the overall workflow.
- Transfer to NARA: The selected system should be able to transfer documents to NARA in the correct file format.
- Report Generation: System should have the capability to run, save, and distribute ad hoc reports.
- Complete Lifecycle Management: System must have proper security and controls in place to retain record for its entire life-cycle.