Strong records management is essential for transparency, accountability, and the effective functioning of our democracy. As we move into the digital age, federal agencies face the critical task of taking on significant records modernization projects to transition from paper-based processes to fully electronic environments. In December 2022, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Memorandum M-23-07 (an update to M-19-21), reinforcing the transition to electronic records.

meeting critical deadlines

As of June 30, 2024 –NARA will no longer accept permanent or temporary record transfers in analog formats and will accept records only in electronic format and with appropriate metadata. Unless agencies request an exception, the deadlines set by M-23-07 are non-negotiable. Effective June 30, federal agencies must:

  • Manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format; all permanent records must also include appropriate metadata.
  • Manage all temporary records electronically or store them in commercial records storage facilities.
  • Digitize permanent records in analog formats before transfer to NARA.

Why Agencies Should FOCUS ON Modernizing Records

  1. Transparency and Accountability: Proper records management ensures that government actions are transparent and accountable. Citizens can access information, and well-organized records facilitate this process.
  2. Efficiency and Effectiveness: Electronic records streamline processes, reduce paperwork, and enhance efficiency. Agencies can respond faster to inquiries, make informed decisions, and allocate resources effectively.
  3. Compliance with Regulations: Federal agencies must comply with various regulations related to records management. These include the Federal Records Act, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and agency-specific guidelines.
  4. Enhanced Accessibility: Digital records are accessible anytime, anywhere. Researchers, policymakers, and the public can retrieve information without physically visiting archives.
  5. Cost Savings: Going paperless reduces costs associated with physical storage, printing, and manual processes. Agencies can reallocate resources to other critical areas.
  6. Improved Searchability: Electronic records allow for advanced search capabilities. Agencies can quickly locate specific documents, saving time and effort.
  7. Disaster Preparedness: Digital records are more resilient during disasters. They can be backed up and replicated, ensuring continuity even in challenging circumstances.

Here are some of the steps an agency needs to follow in implementing a records modernization project:

  1. Assess Current Systems: Agencies should evaluate their existing records management systems. They should identify gaps, legacy systems, and areas for improvement.
  2. Invest in Technology: Records modernization projects require investment in robust electronic records management systems. Choose solutions that align with agency needs and compliance requirements.
  3. Training and Change Management: Employees need training to adapt to new systems, and change management strategies ensure smooth transitions.
  4. Collaborate with NARA: Work closely with NARA to understand transfer requirements, metadata standards, and best practices.

partner with qai for your upcoming project

To help agencies meet these critical deadlines, QAI’s team of records management specialists has created the industry’s most in-depth NARA Records Modernization Center. It offers comprehensive tools and vital information to help you adopt the proper measures for full compliance, whether you are a Senior Agency Official for Record Management (SAORM), an Agency Records Officer, or another government employee.

Records modernization is not just a technical upgrade; it’s a strategic imperative. And the M-23-07 deadlines are right around the corner.

[Written and reviewed by a human, with the assistance of Microsoft Copilot.]