Agency leaders discuss the long road to electronic records management

“Office of Management and Budget Memo M-19-21 requires all federal agencies to move to fully electronic records management by the end of 2022. Issued in June 2019, M-19-21 also instructs the National Archives and Records Administration to stop accepting paper records after Dec. 31 of next year — giving agencies added incentive to hit the deadline.”

“As agencies approach the midway point of this march toward truly digital records, FCW gathered a group of records management executives and other stakeholders to see how their efforts are progressing. The discussion was on the record but not for individual attribution (see sidebar for the list of participants), and the quotes have been edited for length and clarity. Here’s what the group had to say.”Progress made and problems outstanding

“Every participant said her or his agency was making headway in converting to electronic records management (ERM), though just how much varied widely. COVID-19 and the workforce dispersal it prompted have affected M-19-21 efforts, they said, but traditional government challenges were having a much bigger impact.”

“‘The biggest part of it is that there’s not really a dedicated budget to doing any of the records management pieces in the department,’ one official said. ‘So we have to piggyback off of the programs…’”

Compliance as a byproduct

“The group warned that a big risk of playing catch-up rather than integrating from the outset is having ERM feel like a poorly designed imposition on day-to-day users. Too often, one official said, IT shops ‘seem not to care about the user experience.’”

“Records management leaders must fill that gap, another agreed, saying: ‘IT is really good at providing the tools and the technologies to our staff, but they’re not really good at telling them how to use it. So we have set ourselves up as the help desk in the organization — not related to any technologies we can’t solve but related to our interest that meshes with our colleagues’ interest, which is, ‘Can you find your information…?’”

Who owns the ERM mission?

“The requirements of M-19-21, the emphasis on data-driven government that was codified in the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act in early 2019 and the broader push for digital transformation have combined to put many cooks in the information-management kitchen…” Read the full article here.

Source: The long road to electronic records management – By Troy K. Schneider, February 16, 2021. FCW.

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