Federal Agencies create, manage and store their records, some dating back hundreds of years. In recent decades, new records tend to be created electronically. However, millions of pages of records are stored on paper, film (microfiche) or other media. This results in an unwieldy records management system that requires massive amounts of storage space.
Recent Memorandum Extends Timeline for Digitizing
The deadline for federal agencies to complete the transition to electronic records has been extended until 2024. On Dec. 23, 2022, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a joint Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies (OMB/NARA M-23-07), advising that the transfer of all permanent records to electronic format is extended until June 30, 2024. This updates the requirements set out in OMB/NARA M-19-21, Transition to Electronic Records.
According to Lawrence Brewer, Chief Records Officer for the U.S. Government, “The new deadline allows agencies more time to complete their transition to electronic records due to implementation delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This development puts all government agencies on an 18-month timeline to formulate and execute a plan to convert to fully electronic recordkeeping, which must include:
Transferring all permanent records to an electronic format with appropriate metadata.
- Managing all temporary records in an electronic format or storing them in commercial storage facilities.
- Formulating a records management program.
Implications of NARA Requirements
To serve as a central location for all federal records, NARA requires that electronic records be formatted in a particular way. This means that simple scanning of existing records will not be enough. Instead, federal agencies must understand records retention requirements, metadata inclusion and other mission-critical aspects of achieving compliance. Furthermore, different existing records may require different treatments to be properly digitized. For example, microfiche can only be digitized with special machinery. Also, NARA has specific timelines and requirements for human resources and other sensitive documents. These various, complicated requirements can be met more effectively by working with an experienced, qualified vendor.
Working with an Experienced Vendor
The ideal vendor to assist with compliance will have extensive experience working with federal agencies, sophistication in the digitization process and appropriate certification. For the third requirement, NARA offers a Federal Records Management Training program and certificate. It is also advisable to work with a digitization company already on the GSA Schedule. Finally, a vendor needs to have a demonstrated track record in record digitization, particularly with respect to federal records.
Our team is led by NARA Federal Records Management Training certified managers, and we are on the GSA Schedule. To learn more about how our capabilities and experience can make for a smooth transition to electronic records, contact us today.