Navy says intranet will solve records management problem

The Navy is putting in place a records management solution as part of its Navy-Marine Corps Intranet project, the first agencywide application of its kind, Navy officials said last week.

NMCI is the Navy's five-year, $4.1 billion-effort to outsource the technology, maintenance and help desk support for more than 350,000 desktops and 200 networks. EDS won the contract in October 2000. The Navy required EDS to provide a records management application as part of NMCI.

Agencies across the federal government have been grappling with problems posed by managing electronic records for years. Currently the Navy, like many federal agencies, manually copies electronic records, catalogues them and stores them in boxes. The Navy's new software automates the process by storing digital documents.

"When you don't have an electronic records management system, workers take electronic records and print them out. Then they save the printed copy," said Charlie Barth, the Navy's project leader for records management issues. Now, all Navy e-mails will automatically be logged and saved as official records. The system locks documents so they can be viewed but not edited, a feature that protects sensitive documents such as health records, contracts and congressional responses.

"It's a fundamental change for the Navy," said Ron Turner, the Navy's deputy chief information officer for infrastructure, systems and technology. "And what it gives us is compliance with existing law." The Navy must follow its own records management guidelines as well as those from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Defense Department.

The records management system came at no additional costs to the agency, since the Navy required prospective NMCI contractors to include records management software in their bids.

EDS chose Tower Software's TRIM product, a records management tool on a list of products that meets Defense Department procurement requirements. Barth and Turner expect the solution to produce a single Navy-wide repository from which agency knowledge management initiatives can profit. "This records repository will be about as good as it gets for mining business information about the agency," Barth said.

Barth said the new solution will also help the Navy with Freedom of Information Act requests and managing correspondence. "This system is going to allow us to leverage our data repository to do our job quicker and in a paperless fashion," he said.

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