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NARA: Agencies Don’t Understand Electronic Records Management

Site: NARA.gov

Since the White House first issued a memo in November 2011 asking agencies to improve their archiving practices, the National Archives and Records Administration has been taking in agency records management status reports.

Agencies were required to submit reports on their records processes to NARA and provide a roadmap for how they will implement changes to their agency practices.

NARA surveyed 247 of 276 federal agencies on their records management processes and found a large majority to be at high or moderate risk of bad records management, FierceGovernment IT reports.

The agency found the Census Bureau, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Defense Contract Audit Agency and most of the Defense Department’s combatant commands at high-risk.

Electronic archiving proved to be a challenge to agencies still, as NARA found 81 percent of agencies are using a printing and filing method to archive email records.

Forty-nine percent indicated they use backup tapes.

NARA indicates backup tapes are not a record-keeping system and found many respondents did not understand what exactly electronic records should be.

The large misunderstanding of how to implement electronic systems suggests agencies’ training methods may not be the best as well, the report said.

Of the 62 percent of agencies indicating they have an electronic records policy in place, NARA said only two-thirds of those had documentation to support their claim.

While NARA has previously instructed agencies to include social media in its record schedule, several agencies failed to do so, according to the report.

Seventeen percent have not submitted updated schedules to NARA in more than five years and 10 percent of agencies indicated they do not know when their agency last submitted a schedule, the report said.

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