Agencies are increasingly moving to an electronic environment rather than paper records. Because electronic records provide comprehensive documentation of essential government functions and provide information necessary to protect government and citizen interests, their proper management is essential. Further, the preservation of significant documents and other records is crucial for the historical record. Responsibility for the government's electronic records lies with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA completed an assessment of the current federal record keeping environment in 2001 which concluded that although agencies are creating and maintaining records appropriately, most remain unscheduled, and records of historical value are not being identified and provided to NARA for archival preservation. Although NARA plans to improve its guidance and to address technology issues, its plans do not address the low priority generally given to records management programs, nor the issue of systematic inspections. Recognizing the limitations of its technical strategies to support preservation, management, and sustained access to electronic records, NARA is planning to design, acquire, and manage an advanced electronic records (ERA) system. However, NARA is behind schedule for the ERA system, largely because of flaws in how the schedule was developed. Further, to acquire a major system like ERA, NARA needs to improve its information technology management capabilities.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Office of the Acting Archivist||To address the low priority given to records management programs across government, the Archivist of the United States should develop a documented strategy for raising agency senior management awareness of and commitment to records management principles, functions, and programs. Further, the Archivist should develop a documented strategy for conducting systematic inspections of agency records management programs to (1) periodically assess agency progress in improving records management programs and (2) evaluate the efficacy of NARA's governmentwide guidance.|
|Office of the Acting Archivist||To mitigate the risks associated with the acquisition of an advanced electronic archival system the Archivist should reassess the ERA project schedule. A revised schedule should be developed, based on estimates of the amount of work and resources required to complete each task, that allows sufficient time for NARA to complete essential planning tasks.|
|Office of the Acting Archivist||To mitigate the risks associated with the acquisition of an advanced electronic archival system, the Archivist should reassess the ERA project schedule. A revised schedule should be developed, based on estimates of the amount of work and resources required to complete each task, that allows sufficient time for NARA to strengthen its information technology (IT) management capabilities by (1) implementing an IT investment management process, (2) developing an enterprise architecture, and (3) improving information security.|