NARA Report Shows Continued Govt-wide Records Mis-Management

The May 1 release of a report by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), based on surveys agencies filled out about their record keeping practices, shows how much more work needs to be done before we can say with any certainty that the government is not at risk of losing potentially important records.

The 2011 Records Management Self-Assessment Report finds, similar to results reported last year, most agencies are at risk of losing or destroying records. If federal employees cannot identify and 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. [Learn more about the report and our analysis of the results here.]

The report drives home the importance of the Administration's commitment to finally reform the federal government's record keeping practices as part of the National Action Plan. To that end, the President issued a Memorandum on Managing Government Records that requires each agency head to: report on their current plans for improving records management programs; outline current obstacles to sound, cost-effective records management policies; and catalog potential reforms and improvements. The agency reports will inform, and be followed by, a Records Management Directive to be issued by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Archivist of the United States. and several of our coalition partners are monitoring the development of the Directive carefully and have met with government officials to discuss the directions it will take. As Patrice McDermott said on the release on the President's Memorandum, "this document only begins an effort to reform records management policies and practices…[we] will be following its implementation closely to make sure the resources of funds, attention, and personnel are put in place to ensure its success."

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