Email, records, content, information, knowledge – What’s a records manager to do?

I saw this article on GCN, http://gcn.com/Articles/2010/01/19/Web-White-House-Email-system-details.aspx?s=gcndaily_200110&Page=1. While EmailXtender is probably not classified as an Records Managment Application, it appears to have RM capabilities. EMC makes Documentum, which is DoD 5015.02 certified. I was somewhat curious when they mentioned that the system is stored off-site, which made me wonder if this was an actual stand-alone storage system or a cloud service. Upon further investigation, I find the product has been renamed to SourceOne, which is a suite of products including ediscovery and email management. It is apparently an application that runs on a separate server outside the messaging server. The software does tag the messages and has the capability of doing full-text indexing. I was also intrigued by the statement “Can segregate e-mails by component to differentiate between records that are covered by the Presidential Records Act and those that are covered by the Federal Records Act.” There are other email archiving solutions out there, but archiving and storage is not synonymous with RM. Are some of those solutions cloud services? How stringent will we need to be on a DoD email policy to ensure all the RM requirements are met?

There are those on the Joint Staff that would say we really need to focus more on content management versus the form the information comes in. I’m inclined to agree with them. At what point can we move from thinking in terms of records and shift to data/content? I think the Intelligence community is already there. NARA seems to at least be aware of the difference. The DoD RM community is just beginning to talk about the records implications of working in Sharepoint. That starts to move into the realm of knowledge management. This stuff is all related. A DoD RM program directive is almost ready for release. Unfortunately, at this point, the guidance is really more than a day late and definitely more than a dollar short relative to content or knowledge management. Where do we go from here?

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jana gallatin

As we coordinate the relief efforts in Haiti, we are relying heavily on social networking, instant messaging and following up with email. DoD, via SOUTHCOM has set up an APAN Community for coordinating response from all partners. http://bit.ly/7aF4Mz.
Currently, Records/Content/Knowledge managers at Joint Chiefs are working plans for capturing this information regardless of the source.

I totally agree with you…”This stuff *is* all related” I think the RM directive is still valuable. It meets Federal obligations (check the box) and it is moving in the right direction and it is part of an overall DOD information management taxonomy.

We don’t really need a directive to spell out how to do the right thing. It just kind of gives us permission to go do the right thing! With the people at JS and now in DISA, and the folks at OSD, I think we are building a momentum to look at the big picture and figure out how to architect enterprise infrastructures to support the legacy and evolving pieces. We just need to think (Notice, I didn’t say *stop* and think..)

I’m rambling, so that’s enough now.

James Willson-Quayle

I heartily agree with what is being said here. We need to remind the RM community that the term “records” in the formal sense include information or, more generally, content (afterall, every RM program has a disposition schedule to which information and content can be applied, but for some reason has not been). The essential point is that the principles and policies of records management need to applied to wherever content resides – and this has to be done for reasons of resources, accessibility, as well as for legal requirements. In terms of policy within the DOD community, the new DODD 5015.2 must marry up with the planned rewrite of DODD 8320 (on data sharing management). However, the information which at the Joint Staff are trying to capture on Haiti is just one small piece of this issue – we need to have processes in place. Policy – as Jana intimates – we already have lots of. Processes that are aligned with our techonology capabilities – even our automated abilities – that is what we are lacking.

jana gallatin

The processes need to be flexible enough to allow organizational tailoring, but comprehensive enough to “just capture and schedule” GRS info/records. The implementation has to allow for discovery based on trusted authentication from across the DoD/Fed enterprise. i think the trustworthiness of different kinds of info needs to be made clear somehow.

How many folks use news aggregation tools and just assume that everything that pops up is trustworthy? It would be nice to know if the source is from an opinion/editorial section or a blog, vice indepth journalism or a cover story. (I’m assuming the latter two are not quite as skewed by authors’/editors’ personal biases) The same is true with enterprise information. Records are trustworthy. Other stuff maybe not so much…but the other stuff is hugely important to keeping us moving forward. Records kind of keep us from slipping backwards…

I think we need a multi layered approach. DoD wide, maybe DISA should be providing the infrastructure and tools for GRS records….then each specific organization can either use DISA provided gadgets/tools to add in their mission records, or follow clearly defined guidance on how to structure those records/information to be visible/discoverable, etc.

James Willson-Quayle

I would argue that all content needs to be managed – but that “record” material – that is, information that documents an agency’s mission or function – needs to be managed or archived in a different fashion for long term preservation (or to put it in other words, to keep us from sliding backwards). I like the GRS approach but this would only cover administrative records that often having of little or no value. What would be useful and would serve as a foundation to RM would be if the DOD-components adopted a bucketized schedule that would be facilitated by the automated tools that are on the market right now. The longer term solution would involve the use of automated metadata with automated mapping to bucketized schedules, and all managed within a 5015.2.-std compliant system for those truly important records that need to be preserved.