Records officers have not been ignoring the drumbeat of news stories about the missing e-mail messages of former IRS official Lois Lerner, who is the target of a congressional probe into the way the agency grants tax-exempt status to activist groups. Feds are facing a looming e-mail management deadline.
By the end of 2016, agencies must be able to manage permanent and temporary e-mail records “in an accessible electronic format,” according to an Office of Management and Budget directive. This means putting an end to the cumbersome print/file process used by many top officials in government and an end to manually dragging and dropping e-mail messages and files into computer folders.
Records officers have plenty of policy guidance thanks to the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Capstone template on capturing agency e-mail based on the rank of the account owner and the probability that their work involves the creation of permanent records.
At this point, though, there is much less information about how to use IT to support e-mail retention. Paul Wester, chief records officer at the NARA said, “We need to do a lot more work in the area of procurement and technology. We’re in a bad position when we can tell you what to do [and] why you need to do it and then you say, ‘Tell me how to do it,’ and we throw our hands up in the air.”
NARA is working on advanced guidance, due to be released in fiscal 2015, to provide more specificity for users of Microsoft, Google Apps for Government, and other e-mail clients.
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