Records management makes inroads among agencies

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Federal agencies have seen progress in the last year with managing their records, but challenges persist, according to a new report by the National Archives and Records Administration.

In its fourth year, the Record Management Self-Assessment Report provides a snapshot of how well federal agencies are complying with records management requirements.

The report compiles the responses from 241 agencies, including cabinet-level departments and all agencies under the Executive Office of the President.

The RMSA has four main sections: records management program activities, oversight and compliance, records disposition and electronic records. Agencies are scored out of 100 possible points based on their answers to questions in the assessment. The agency’s overall score determines whether it is in the low, moderate or high-risk category, which agencies can then use to measure their success and target areas for improvement.

This year, 20 percent of agencies scored low risk, 44 percent moderate risk and 36 percent high risk. According to these results, the number of agencies scoring in low risk has increased.

Other key findings:

  • A high number of agency records management staff partake in the design and development of electronic systems and working collaboratively with other units on issues related to electronic records.
  • Many agencies don’t understand what constitutes internal controls. And those that do have internal controls, few test them regularly to assess their effectiveness.
  • The largest struggles for records management programs are the lack of support from senior management, resources and funding.
  • Agency records management staff need much higher levels of training in management of electronic records. In this survey, a number of respondents were unable to answer because they didn’t understand the terms.
  • The number of respondents who reported they have performance goals and measures for their programs increased by 17 percent from the previous year. About one-half of respondents said they are in the process of developing such goals and metrics.

NARA recommended agencies keep working toward the goal it set forth with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management to implement electronic record keeping by 2019. NARA also recommended agencies continue to abide by the standards and laws of record management.

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