Federal Electronic Information Governance Initiative

Federal government initiative to reduce paper and gain efficiency thru electronic information governance.

In March of 2017, the Trump administration released an executive order for reorganizing the Executive Branch. Subsequently, the White House released their recommendations in a report entitled “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century.”

While a litany of topics are covered in both releases, two of the most relevant items pertaining to Records and Information Management (RIM) recommendation are “rationalize the federal real property approach” and “transition to electronic government.” Integrating these two tenets can result in realizing significant efficiencies and assist in reducing operating costs.

Many federal agencies are trying to catch up to RIM and NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) standards. Federal employees still maintain a familiar comfort with paper records, often reluctant to adhere to document retention schedules resulting in records being stored well beyond the intended information lifespan. By adhering to document destruction schedules and digitizing critical and active files, agencies can be in lock step with the government efficiency and cost reduction initiatives.

Here are some steps to follow for a successful conversion to digital records:

Utilize internal knowledge

Frequently, information governance is spread among several different departments — records managers reign over hard copy, while MIS/IT controls digital data and ERDM. By forming cross functional working groups, agencies can combine and consolidate their internal knowledge and plan for a comprehensive needs assessment for their information governance programs.

Utilize external SME (subject matter experts)

The agency working group should seek out industry experts who could suggest private sector best practices that would result in providing better value and services.

Document needs assessment

Create a tactical plan including but not limited to the following action items:

  • Identify your National Archives and Records Administration inventory. Check for retention dates, box and file descriptive information, and cost for storage.
  • Evaluate the cost of storage at Federal Records Centers to Commercial 36 CFR 1234 NARA approved sites.
  • Evaluate retention periods to ensure consistency across all record types. Destroy/shred those records that exceed their lifespan.
  • Review agency workflows for digital/scanning processes.
  • Evaluate “scan on demand”, “day forward scanning”, and complete “back file” conversions as alternatives to hard copy record storage

The “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century” report has charged agencies with mining operational efficiencies while reducing overall costs. By following some of the recommendations here, agencies can begin modernizing and effectively utilizing data regardless of its particular media.