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Nonprofits Offer Help with Agency Records Management

National Archives welcomes input on preservation of electronic communications.

Addressing the confusion over which agency communications must be preserved as federal records, a group of private nonprofits on Monday announced a new coalition to support the federal government’s efforts to modernize its records management infrastructure and implement information governance practices that have proved effective.

“With the support of the private sector, we believe federal agencies will be better able to meet their legal and regulatory responsibilities with regard to managing information,” said Liz Icenogle, director of government affairs at the Overland Park, Kan.-based ARMA International. “Beyond just facilitating a transition to a digital government, we want to increase awareness about the benefits of creating an information governance mindset and standards of conduct with respect to records and information management policies and procedures.” 

The Coalition for Public Sector Information Governance Leadership will provide training and resources to agency practitioners aimed at meeting requirements contained in the president's 2011 Managing Government Records Memorandum and the 2012 implementing directive issued jointly by the National Archives and Records Administration and the Office of Management and Budget, the group said.

The OPM directive requires federal agencies to preserve permanent and temporary email records in an electronically accessible format by the end of 2016. By the end of 2019, agencies are to preserve all of the government's permanent electronic records created after that date in a digital format for transfer to NARA. 

The Archives welcomes the help. “We are aware of the coalition . . . and look forward to reviewing the results and reports they produce,” said Paul Wester, chief records officer, in a statement to Government Executive. “Since the issuance of the Managing Government Records Directive in August of 2012, we have consistently reached out to the private sector for input and support. With the recent enactment of the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014 calling on all agencies to transfer permanent electronic records to NARA in electronic form to the greatest extent possible, we will need continued assistance from non-governmental organizations like those in this coalition.” 

Agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency have been called to task by Congress for failure to preserve internal emails, some of which were sent on executives’ private accounts.

Led by ARMA international, a professional association of archivists and information technology specialists, the coalition includes the American Health Information Management Association; the Association for Information and Image Management; the Information Governance Initiative; the National Association for Information Destruction; and Professional Records and Information Services Management, or PRISM International.

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