OMB: Agency record keeping to be all electronic by 2020

Federal agencies must begin to manage their records, including emails, in an electronic format by the end of the decade, according to a memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget and the National Archives and Records Administration.

The memorandum carries out a presidential memorandum sent in November to reform the federal government’s records management for the 21st century. The directive also requires each agency to designate a high-ranking agency official to oversee its records management programs and to ensure that all appropriate staff recieve records management training.

“Records are the foundation of open government, supporting the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration,” said Archivist of the United States David Ferriero and Acting OMB Director Jeffrey Zients. “Well-managed records can be used to assess the impact of programs, to improve business processes, and to share knowledge across the Government.”

Ferriero, who heads NARA, and Zients said the directive creates “a robust records management framework that complies with statutes and regulations to achieve the benefits outlined in the Presidential Memorandum.”


“This directive sends a strong message to federal agencies about the importance of electronic records,” Ferriero said. “We look forward to working with agencies throughout the government and our stakeholders to implement its goals.”

Highlights from the directive:

  • Federal agencies must manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format by December 31, 2019, and must have plans to do so by December 31, 2013.
  • All agencies must manage both permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format by December 31, 2016.
  • NARA will issue updated guidance on managing, disposing of, and transferring email by December 31, 2013.
  • By December 31, 2014, all agencies must have records management training in place for appropriate staff.
  • By this November, each agency must designate a senior agency official to oversee its records management program.  The Archivist will convene the first ever meeting of senior agency officials before the end of 2012.

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