Preserving Records and CREW Statement on Presidential Memo on Managing Government Records

WASHINGTON, November 28, 2011 - and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) applaud the President's Memo on Managing Government Records for taking critical steps towards instituting effective and efficient records management in the federal government. As past experiences demonstrated, failing to properly manage records, especially email, creates an unacceptable risk of losing valuable information that is necessary to understand the development of national policies and to hold officials accountable for their decisions.

Is a Massive Destruction of US Federal Court Records Underway?

Recently, our community became aware of a move in the US Federal Courts to dispose of large numbers of court records. This is not as draconian as it may seem at first read. We checked in with the National Archives and Records Administration – just to make sure this destruction was known to and approved by them. It is. NARA told us:

NARA Survey Shows Extent of Problems with Records Mangement

Strong records management practices are the backbone of open and accountable government: if federal employees cannot efficiently find records, they cannot be fully responsive to public requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), to discovery in litigation, or to Congressional requests for information.

Agency Self Assessments Highlight Problems with E-Records

Today, much of the work of the federal government is done in a completely digital environment. Memos letters, reports, etc., are born and saved on computers; federal workers correspond over email; federal entities are on facebook, twitter, YouTube, and more. As the amount of work done digitally has grown, so have the number of electronic records produced by the federal government. Unfortunately, as a report by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) shows, the federal government is not doing a good job of managing those records., Partners, Call for Hearings on Unlawful Destruction of Federal Email Records and 45 organizations concerned with transparency and accountability sent a letter to the Information Policy Subcommittees in the Senate and House to hold hearings on the apparent destruction of emails in the Department of Justice to determine how the e-mails could be missing despite the requirements of the Federal Records Act (FRA), and if the FRA needs further strengthening.