Email System Features and Records Management

Over the past few weeks, there have been several articles written describing upcoming changes Google is in the process of rolling out to their email service. One of these features, “confidential mode,” allows senders to select how long the recipient will be able to read and access the messages, disables forwarding or copying/pasting, and sets the time for when the message is deleted. We have been receiving questions about the records management implications of these features.

First, regardless of what platform an agency selects for their email, each agency is responsible for ensuring compliance with all records management guidance in federal law and NARA regulations. This includes implementing and following the retention periods required by the applicable NARA-approved records retention schedules. Any decision on authorizing specific features or functionality of an email platform will be made by each agency. However, these decisions must also comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Agencies should carefully evaluate new features and technologies before enabling them for use.

Over the years, we have consistently issued guidance to agencies stressing their responsibilities to ensure the proper management of email records including NARA Bulletin 2014-06, Guidance on Managing Email and NARA Bulletin 2013-03, Guidance for agency employees on the management of Federal records, including email accounts, and the protection of Federal records from unauthorized removal. We have issued Success Criteria for agencies to assess where they are in managing email in compliance with the Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M-12-18).

At this moment, it is unclear when, or even if, the “confidential mode” feature of Google email will be available on Federal email systems. However, the above requirements for managing and preserving electronic messages would still apply and we would expect Federal agencies to comply.

We will continue to follow emerging technical developments and will issue clarifications and guidance as needed. Please let us know if you have any additional questions by leaving a comment.

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What is FERMI?

You may have heard us talk about FERMI at recent events and you may have wondered, what is FERMI? Why is NARA talking about 20th Century physicists? In reality FERMI is the shorthand for the Federal Electronic Records Modernization Initiative (FERMI).

Not that Fermi! (Photo of Enrico Fermi, ca. 1950, National Archives Identifier 595043)

FERMI emerged from the Automated Electronic Records Management Plan, written to support the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18). FERMI aims to to provide a government-wide, modern, cost-effective, standardized, and interoperable set of records management solutions providing common, core functionality to support records management services for Federal agencies. While Federal agencies may have different missions, structures, and resources, they do have common needs for managing their electronic records. They all need to manage their records in compliance NARA’s statutes, regulations, and guidance. We want to make it easier to figure out which services and solutions meet these requirements and are approaching this in several ways

First, we are working with two groups at the General Services Administration (GSA): the Unified Shared Services Management (USSM) office under the Office of Shared Solutions and Performance Improvement (OSSPI) and the Schedule 36 team under the Federal Acquisitions Services (FAS).   

Unified Shared Services Management

NARA is the Service Area Lead for Records Management and participates on the Business Standards Council. We provide records management input to the other Services Areas (Human Capital, Financial Management, Grants Management, IT, etc.). USSM produced the Federal Integrated Business Framework (FIBF)  to help the Federal Government better coordinate and document common business needs across agencies and focus on outcomes, data, processes and performance. 

GSA’s Schedule 36

We worked with GSA to create a Special Item Number (SIN) for Electronic Records Management (ERM) in Schedule 36. The existing SIN 51 504 was updated to solely include services related to physical records management. SIN 51 600 – Electronic Records Management Solutions was created for services necessary to provide a total ERM solution.  Vendors must self-certify they meet the Universal ERM Requirements to be included in SIN 51 600.

Universal ERM Requirements

The Universal ERM Requirements identify high level business needs for managing electronic records. They are baseline ERM program requirements derived from existing NARA regulations, policy, and guidance. They are a starting point for agencies to use when developing system requirements. Records management staff should work with acquisitions and IT personnel to tailor any final system requirements.

In addition, we worked with our stakeholder groups to develop the following two products:

Electronic Records Management Federal Integrated Business Framework (ERM-FIBF)

The ERM-FIBF is a model framework that identifies the key functions, activities, and capabilities necessary for agencies to manage their electronic records. The ERM-FIBF was developed according to standards set out in USSM’s FIBF. This document maps capabilities to authoritative references, including statutes, regulations, guidance, and standards.

Use Cases for Electronic Messages

The Use Cases for Electronic Messages serve as a tool agencies can use when procuring services or solutions to manage electronic messages. They can be used by agencies to demonstrate how vendors perform the described requirements and workflows. These are built directly off the ERM- FIBF. They tell the “stories” of how to manage electronic messages.

We posted the ERM-FIBF and Use of Cases for Electronic Messages for comment in January and received over 200 comments.

We will continue to use the blog for FERMI updates, so stay tuned!

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Changes Coming to NARA RM Training Program

One of the major topics covered during our last BRIDG meeting was the continual evolution of the Records Management Training Program. Dr. Gary Rauchfuss, the director of our training program, presented upcoming changes and answered questions. You can view his presentation below.

Gary discussed both the curriculum updates and the long-term evolution of the training program and how we anticipate changing the way we deliver training. The curriculum updates are being designed for different audiences — based on the roles people perform in an office. We are focusing on three roles: records custodians, records liaisons, and records officers. The pilot of the first course for records custodians was delivered in March and we anticipate having the remaining pilots for records custodians completed by the end of this fiscal year. The pilot courses for records liaisons are scheduled to begin in October 2018. The course for records officers is also being developed. The goal is to be ready with the new curriculum by the end of fiscal year 2019.

In addition, Gary presented several major changes to the training program coming in the future. First, we will make the training free and deliver it online (instead of face-to-face). Second, we will only track training and offer certificates for those people specifically identified as the Agency Records Officer. Finally, we will work to share our materials with agencies as a resource for developing agency-specific training materials for their own programs. Most of these changes are still in the initial phase and we will be relying on input from our stakeholders to implement these changes. But this is the direction we are moving towards.

We will start this transition in fiscal year 2019. All courses will be free, but there will only be a limited number of the existing Knowledge Area course cycles available. We are planning a eighteen cycles, six in the DC area, six offered at NARA facilities around the country and six to be reserved for agencies wanting us to deliver courses at their locations. We will also continue piloting and implementing new courses and begin populating our online training materials catalog.

We anticipate fully implementing these changes in fiscal year 2020. By then, we will fully transition to the new curriculum and offer the training courses online. Also by then, we will only track and formally deliver training for agency records officers. These changes will give us the opportunity to increase the reach of our training program and remove the existing constraints on the way we currently deliver our records management training.

More information will be forthcoming. If you have any questions about these changes, please leave a comment below or feel free to reach out Gary Rauchfuss at

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Certificate of Federal Records Management Training 

  1. Why should I get NARA’s Certificate of Federal Records Management Training?

NARA’s program gives Federal records management professionals a set of benchmarks to gauge their professional development. Information contained in the courses associated with the Certificate cover every aspect of Federal Records Management and are an important step in acquiring the skills necessary to manage Federal records.

  1. How does NARA’s Certificate of Federal Records Management Training Program work?

Each student must attend Knowledge Area courses 2-6 (details below) and must pass the corresponding test for each course. Upon the successful completion of the courses and tests, an individual receives a Certificate signed by the Archivist of the United States.

  1. What subjects are covered in the Certificate of Federal Records Management Training Program?

NARA has identified five “Areas of Knowledge” that are covered by the certificate program.

Knowledge Area Two: Creating and Maintaining Agency Business Information – 2 days, Cost $300.00
Knowledge Area Three: Records Scheduling – 2 days, Cost $300.00
Knowledge Area Four: Records Schedule Implementation – 2 days, Cost $300.00
Knowledge Area Five: Asset and Risk Management – 2 days, Cost $300.00
Knowledge Area Six: Records Management Program Development – 1 day, Cost $150.00

  1. How does NARA’s Certificate of Federal Records Management Training differ from other records management certification programs?

NARA’s Certificate of Federal Records Management Training focuses on policies and procedures unique to the Federal environment. It is not intended to replicate any existing records management certification programs, nor does it result in the CRM designation that is achieved by meeting both educational and work experience certification requirements established by the Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM) and by passing their required examinations.

  1. Do all records management officers and liaisons in the Federal Government have to obtain a Certificate of Federal Records Management Training?

Participation is mandatory for officially designated Agency Records Officers (AROs) and voluntary for all other records management staff.

  1. If I have experience as a records manager in the Federal Government, may I take the tests without taking the courses?

No. Because NARA’s records management policies and procedures are constantly evolving, it is imperative that records management personnel take courses to remain current. Many earlier policies and procedures no longer apply or are significantly different.

  1. May an individual who works as a contractor for a Federal agency participate in the Certificate of Federal Records Management Training Program?

Yes. Our courses are open to the public.

  1. Where are the certificate courses offered?

Courses are offered in the Washington, DC area and locations throughout the United States. Agencies may request courses be conducted at their facilities.  Please contact for further assistance on agency specific training opportunities. Please visit NARA’s Records Management Training Program Learning Management System (LMS) for specific course offerings, locations, and other information.

  1. Are tests given at the end of each course?

No. Tests are administered via the LMS. Following each course, the course instructor provides an online address and other identifying information to access the appropriate test. The instructor also provides information on how to take the test if you are not able to take the test online.

  1. How long after I complete the course do I have to take the online test?

You may take the test at any time after completing the course and evaluation. It is strongly recommended, however, that you take the test within one to two weeks after course completion.

  1. How will I know if I have passed the test?

You will be provided immediate feedback on the accuracy of your test answers and informed if you have passed or not.

  1. If I do not pass the test, may I take it again without retaking the relevant course?

Yes, you may retake the test without retaking the relevant course by contacting NARA Staff at to reset the test.

  1. If I pass the test, how do I get my certificate?

When you have successfully completed all tests, we will send the Certificate to you within two months. However, your mailing address information in your account profile in the Learning Management System must be accurate, or you will not receive your Certificate.

Contact for additional information.

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Success Criteria for Managing Permanent Electronic Records

I am pleased to announce the publication of the Criteria for Successfully Managing Permanent Electronic Records. The guidance supports the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18), which states “By December 31, 2019, all permanent electronic records in Federal agencies will be managed electronically to the fullest extent possible for eventual transfer and accessioning by NARA in an electronic format.”

The guidance describes what agencies should consider from a high-level when managing their permanent electronic records. It includes operational activities, which describe practical “how to” instructions for accomplishing key tasks agencies must carry out as they move towards the 2019 target of managing all permanent electronic records in electronic format. The guidance also reinforces the value of NARA’s Universal Electronic Records Management (ERM) Requirements, and provides an ERM Maturity Model example question for agencies to preview how they will be measured.

A briefing on the success criteria will be provided during the upcoming BRIDG meeting.

If there are any questions or comments, feel free to post your question or email

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Roles and Responsibilities for Records Management Programs

We frequently receive questions about the roles and responsibilities for Senior Agency Officials for Records Management (SAORM) and Agency Records Officers. This post is intended to clarify their differences.

The head of each agency has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an active and efficient records management program. NARA recognizes two formally designated officials that carry out program responsibilities on behalf of the Agency Head — the SAORM and Agency Records Officer.

We released NARA Bulletin 2017-02 to consolidate SAORM requirements from previous directives and guidance. The Bulletin provides an in-depth explanation of SAORM responsibilities for ensuring agency compliance with all applicable records management statutes, regulations, and NARA and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) policies.

SAORMs serve as an executive sponsor with broad responsibility for the agency records management program. The incumbent primarily operates at the strategic level to establish an agency records management program’s vision, goals, and objectives in alignment with NARA and agency-specific strategic plans. SAORMs ensure their records management programs receive adequate resources to complete their mission.

Agency Records Officers manage and implement agency records management programs. Their focus is primarily operational, ensuring that the agency is in compliance with the  foundational requirements for records management. Agency Records Officers work closely with NARA and serve as records management advisors to SAORMs.

Due to many variables such as organizational size, structure, culture, or other elements, an Agency Records Officer may be required to perform more of the strategic, high-level SAORM responsibilities referenced above. In other limited instances, there are micro agencies that have an Agency Records Officer that also serves as the SAORM.

SAORM and ARO Responsibilities: 

The table below is a list of primary SAORM and Agency Records Officer responsibilities. They are derived from existing regulations, policies, and current practices, including 44 U.S.C. Chapter 31, 36 CFR SubChapter B, and NARA Bulletin 2017-02.

Item Senior Agency Official for Records Management Agency Records Officer
1. Provides agencies with a clear vision and strategic direction to modernize agency records management program(s). Interprets and advises senior agency officials on existing, new, or potential records management statutes, regulations, or other legal requirements impacting the agency. May also be responsible for strategic direction in micro agencies.
2. Ensures adequate records management resources are embedded into the agency’s Strategic Information Resources Management (IRM) Plan Integrates records management and archival requirements into the design, development, and implementation of electronic information systems.
3. Provides adequate budgetary and personnel resources to implement an efficient and effective agency records management program. Works with internal stakeholders to identify budgetary, personnel, and system requirements. Participates in the Capital Planning and Investment Control process.
4. Establishes, where appropriate, agency-level records management program offices to ensure adequate management of routine mission support functions. Manages department-level and/or agency-level records management program office(s). Routine mission functions may include the transfer of permanent records to NARA, records storage and retrieval, development and update of records schedules, management of litigation holds or records freezes, and administration of internal program evaluations, including performance measurements where possible.
5. Ensures the designation of records management responsibilities in each program (mission area) and administrative area to ensure the incorporation of record-keeping requirements and records maintenance, storage, and disposition practices into agency programs, processes, systems, and procedures. Implements and assesses each program area’s record-keeping practices, including but not limited to records maintenance, storage, and disposition practices into agency programs, processes, systems, and procedures.
6. Ensures agency staff are informed of and receive training on their records management responsibilities. Develops and administers agency-wide records management training. See NARA Bulletin 2017-02.
7. Issues agency directives, policies, and initiatives supporting OMB and NARA Directive goals and subsequent guidance for transitioning towards a fully electronic government. Carries out records management modernization initiatives resulting from new records management directives, policies, or standards.
8. Ensures agency compliance with NARA requirements for electronic records, including the electronic management of all permanent electronic records to the fullest extent possible for eventual transfer and accessioning by NARA. Monitors and reports compliance with NARA and agency-specific requirements for the management and transfer of permanent electronic records.
9. Directs agency efforts across program areas to ensure email records are managed electronically and retained in an appropriate electronic information system that supports records management and litigation requirements, including the capability to identify, retrieve, and retain the records consistent with NARA-approved disposition authorities and regulatory exceptions. Establish procedures and guidance for email records. Coordinates with IT to ensure systems adhere to records management retention and disposition policies.
10. Ensures policies, procedures, and systems are in place and configured to protects records against unauthorized removal or loss. Coordinates with IT to ensure records management considerations for systems access and security controls are implemented. Participates in agency reporting processes involving unauthorized removal or loss of records and formally notifies NARA.
11. Directs the use of agency-wide records management internal controls, self-assessments, and remediation plans. Implement agency-wide records management internal controls to ensure records, regardless of format or medium, are properly organized, classified or indexed, and made available for use. Oversees self-assessment and remediation activities.
12. Reviews NARA’s annual Records Management Self-Assessment analysis and risk ratings to determine vulnerabilities and identify plans for improvement. Supports SAORMS and/or leads in gathering data and developing responses to NARA’s oversight and reporting activities.

Additional information on records management responsibilities can be found in OPM’s Records and Information Management, 0308 Position Classification Flysheet, and OMB Circular No. A-130, Managing Information as a Strategic Resource, paragraph 5(h).

Language identifying roles and responsibilities for SAORMs and Agency Records Officers will be considered in future updates to NARA regulations.

Post your feedback or submit questions about this blog by emailing

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Records Management Training – Upcoming Courses – March, April, May, 2018

We offer a Certificate of Federal Records Management Training to individuals who successfully complete Knowledge Area courses 2-6 and pass exams associated with each course. Upon completion of the courses and exams, participants will receive a certificate signed by the Archivist of the United States.

We also offer specialty and overview courses like Electronic Records Management (ERM) and Basic Records Operations (BRO), Vital Business Info (VBI), Sustainable Formats and Permanent Electronic Records (SFPER).

Register here. Questions? Please contact or (301) 837-0660.

March  April  May
KA2 – KA6
March 5 –  March 16, 2018
Washington, DC
KA2 – KA6
April 2 – April 13, 2018 College Park, MD
KA2 – KA6
April 30  – May 11, 2018 College Park, MD
KA2 – KA6
March 19 –  March 30, 2018
College Park, MD
KA2 – KA6
April 16  – April 27, 2018
College Park, MD
May 14, 2018
College Park, MD
March 6 – March 27, 2018
April 3  – April 24, 2018
May 15  – May 16, 2018
College Park, MD
March 5 – March 30, 2018
April 2  – April 27, 2018
May 1  – May 22, 2018
April 4  – April 25, 2018
May 2  – May 23, 2018
April 30  – May 25, 2018

*Online courses

March 2, 2018: Updated to reflect new dates and change of location. 

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Reminder: Comments due by February 23, 2018 on Draft ERM Federal Integrated Business Framework and Use Cases for Electronic Messages

As we announced in a previous post, we are requesting comments on two draft documents as part of our Federal Electronic Records Modernization Initiative (FERMI). The documents are the Electronic Records Management Federal Integrated Business Framework (ERM-FIBF) and the Use Cases for Electronic Messages.

We would like to receive feedback from a variety of stakeholders, so please share widely. Comments are due on Friday, February 23, 2018.

If you have any questions about the documents, please contact

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Updates to Records Management Web Pages

Over the coming months, we will be making minor changes to our website. We will be reorganizing our pages to to make it easier to find the resources from these pages. We have started with reorganizing and consolidating the records management guidance and regulations pages.

We wanted to inform you in case any existing bookmarks need to be updated. We wanted to assure you that links to individual resources, such as NARA Bulletins or FAQs, will not change.

We are always looking to improve our website. Please leave a comment below or email us at if you have any suggestions or feedback you’d like to share.

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