Today we feature an interview with Wendy Couch of the Department of Commerce and Ron Swecker of the Department of Transportation, co-founders of the newly-formed Federal Records Officer Network (FRON).
How would you describe the FRON to a prospective member?
The FRON was initiated to formalize what has always occurred on a smaller and ad hoc basis. Federal Records Officers (RO) would get together informally during breaks or after meetings or seminars and compare notes on RM issues. This was often followed up with exchanging emails and often more; sharing training materials, policies, procedures, and templates.
The FRON was set up as a means to provide an ongoing forum for ROs to network and discuss current and relevant issues they are currently facing. We address RM programmatic issues that exist across Federal agencies, share experiences, leverage best practices, tools, templates, and the collective efforts to address common issues.
We also realize that due to time constraints, geographic limitations, or personal preference, we provide the option to participate with the online forum hosted by OMB MAX and monthly discussions.
What motivated you to start the FRON?
The FRON was started out of our own need to discover how other records officers have addressed challenges we all face. While every
organization is different due to a combination of mission, size, and to be honest, culture, all records officers have very similar requirements that have to be met to execute their RM programs. We also find that many of us are developing the SAME solution at different agencies which is an incredible waste of resources. This can also include discussing previous initiatives that have not gone well so we can all learn from mistakes.
We would like to identify the best solutions that have already been developed and leverage these across the Federal government. These solutions come in the form of tools, templates, policies, training to name a few.
What has FRON accomplished so far?
The FRON is in its earliest stages. So far, we’ve brought people together from both small and large agencies into a network. I think it’s a monumental achievement that people are talking to one another and sharing with one another. This was happening before the FRON but the FRON promotes the collaboration on both face-to-face and virtual forums. We are still in an infant stage and the community needs a lot of care and feeding. We have over 100 members and we are constantly adding more representing a wide variety of agencies and geographic areas.
How can people get involved?
The FRON is open to Federal records managers. The best way to get involved is to email Wendy Couch firstname.lastname@example.org or Ron Swecker email@example.com. Stay tuned for more information about leadership opportunities within the FRON.