News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

White House releases directives for Obama record management initiative

We’ve been talking a lot about records management here at this summer … perhaps President Barack Obama is a fan? Probably not, but last week the White House announced key dates and directives regarding his “Presidential Memorandum — Managing Government Records“, first unveiled in December 2011.

The directives were released in an Aug. 24 memo from Jeffrey D. Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, and David S. Ferriero, archivist at the United States National Archives and Records Administration.

“This Directive requires that to the fullest extent possible, agencies eliminate paper and use electronic recordkeeping,” Ferriero and Zients wrote in the memo. “It is applicable to all executive agencies and to all records, without regard to security classification or any other restriction.”

The goal of President Obama’s record management initiative is to “develop a 21st-century framework for the management of Government records.” Under the initiative, by the end of 2019, all federal agencies’ permanent records will be managed electronically to the “fullest extent possible.” The president has said the framework will ultimately reduce government costs and help agencies operate more efficiently, as well as improve federal transparency by better documenting actions and decisions.

Some other key dates that federal officials should mark on their calendars:

  • By Nov. 15 of this year, each agency should name its “senior agency official” who will oversee their records management program.
  • Although federal agencies have until 2019 to move records to an electronic format, they must have plans for how they will do so completed by Dec. 31, 2013.
  • Agencies must have records management training in place for appropriate staff by Dec. 31, 2014.

In a blog post following the memo’s release, Ferriero called President Obama’s record management strategy a “historic moment” that will “allow current and future generations to hold their government accountable and to learn from the past.”

Ferriero is correct — President Obama’s records management initiative is a step in the right direction for modernizing the federal government’s data management processes (although one does wonder why it took this long). As we have explored here recently at, sound records management can have many positive implications for entities: When done correctly, it can help boost the bottom line and aid adherence to compliance standards.

There no doubt will be, however, many data governance challenges to overcome as the initiative moves forward. The sheer complexity of federal records, coupled with their sensitive nature that necessitates proper security protocol, will no doubt cause hiccups for at least some agencies along the way. While 2019 sounds far off, it’s probably a good thing the fed has until the end of the decade to complete this initiative.

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.