Meeting Federal Records Mandates With Technology

There’s a big deadline looming in the federal records world.

By Dec. 31 — or exactly 72 days from now — agencies must manage permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format. According to the 2012 memo that established the mandate, “email records must be retained in an appropriate electronic system that supports records management and litigation requirements, including the capability to identify, retrieve and retain the records for as long as they are needed.”

The deadline shouldn’t come as a shock to federal agencies, considering they’ve been required to report annually to the Office of Management and Budget and the National Archives and Records Administration on their progress.

But as any government agency can attest, this is one of many mandates that must be met in an era where technology budgets are tighter and there’s greater scrutiny of how dollars are spent.

There have been decades of technological advancements, but government records management hasn’t kept pace,” said Jason Baron, Counsel in the Information Governance and eDiscovery Group at Drinker Biddle & Reath and co-chair of the Information Governance Initiative, a vendor neutral consortium and think tank.

Baron kicked off a panel discussion about federal records management during GovLoop’s recent Government Innovators Virtual Tech Day. He shared insights on how agencies can approach the pending mandate, while also lowering burdens on their staffs and abiding by records law, such as Freedom of Information Act.

“We all want an easy button that allows us to do records keeping very easily,” Baron said. But in the meantime, NARA created a Capstone policy that offers agencies the option of using a simplified and automated approach to managing email. This approach calls for the categorization and scheduling of email based on the work and/or position of the email account owner. Baron highlighted key benefits to this approach:

  • Increases the amount of email of permanent value transferred to NARA
  • Reduces the burden on individuals and end-users
  • Reduces reliance on print and file practices

NARA’s Capstone policy was not designed around a specific technology but rather an approach designed to use a variety of technology. David Scott, a Group Product Manager at Veritas, shared a series of steps that agencies can take to meet federal records management.

Step 1: Capture your content. One approach is the journaling method, which is a way of preserving email that guarantees that relevant messages are captured. Veritas, for example, uses technology that can capture those messages and archive them on different layers of storage.

Step 2: Understand your files. What is out there and who owns it?

Step 3: Once you know what data you have, confidently delete what you can. This step can be a big stumbling block for agencies.

Step 4: Archives records and define the steady state.

Step 5: Assign a record type via classification. For example, Veritas Enterprise Vault technology enables agencies to mark records in a variety of ways, including permanent, temporary, ready for archive, or tagged for FOIA or congressional requests.

Step 6: End-user reclassify. End-users can search based on record type, and records can be reclassified via folder movement.

Step 7: Export Capstone records that are required by NARA for transfer.

For agencies seeking various technology options to meet records requirements, Austin Lauria, Senior Engineer at bluesource, shared how a solution blend from the managed service provider. Called EV245, the solution combines functionality from Veritas Enterprise Vault; bluesource managed services, including monthly reports on archiving behavior and environment statistics; and Infrastructure-as-a-Service capabilities from Microsoft Azure.

Using the solution, agencies can reduce archived migration moves from several months to days or week, Lauria said.

The onus is on agencies now to decide the right fit for their agencies. But as Baron noted records management isn’t solely a technology issue. Agencies need to involve their records professionals, IT shops, legal team, business lines and budget offices to be successful. “There is a need for coordination across the enterprise,” he said.

This blog post is coverage from the Government Innovators Virtual Tech Day. For more on the Tech Day, click here.

screenshot-2016-10-19-16-02-45 logo_veritas

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply