News from the Field: Spotlight on TSA’s RM Field Training Initiative

Today’s post comes to us from Matthew Eidson, Supervisory Archives Specialist in the National Archives Permanent Records Capture Section.

I learned recently while reading the 2009 RM Self-assessment that not only is RM Training is an essential ingredient to an effective agency records management program, but that it was rooted in the CFR.  The requirement is for agencies to “provide guidance and training to all agency personnel on their records management responsibilities”.  So, what is a good representation of a robust records management training program?  Well, let me introduce you to the records management staff at TSA led by Troy Manigault, Director, Information Management Programs and currently TSA’s Records Management Officer.   In 2009 TSA piloted a “field focused” records management training seminar for their RLO’s (Records Liaison Officers) or those who were formally appointed with records management responsibilities.  You can read about TSA’s pilot here.  The seminar has grown into a two day RM training session which covers all aspects of records management training.  Topics you would hear in TSA’s training session  include records creation, application of TSA’s file classification system, use of TSA’s RM directive and records schedules, creation and use of file plans, vital records, transferring records to FRC, management, maintenance, cross referencing, scanning and preparing box inventories.

A little background here; earlier in my NARA career while serving as an Appraisal Archivist for TSA I along with staff from the Pacific/Alaska Region organized a quarterly RM telecon for TSA’s field offices.   The TSA records management program was in its infancy and while a lot of effort was being spent on scheduling records and putting together directives and policies, we knew the predominate work of TSA was in the field, and therefore wanted to give as much support to the field as we could in an effort to facilitate communication and collaboration across the agency. Steadily, the telecons grew and naturally, HQ’s TSA took over the facilitation and the training program sprouted from that.

TSA is holding four sessions this summer and many of our regional records staff from NARA are participating as well.  TSA has plans to continue this effort in years to come and also is developing an advanced technical training session where program proponents such as Human Resources or General Counsel would give more training and instruction on creation of adequate and proper documentation and other issues in the life cycle such as document management and using ARCIS.

I spoke with Troy recently about TSA’s training program and he gave me few pointers when putting together a training program in the field:

  • Focus intensely on the records liaisons as the target audience because this is where RM has a lot of turnover in staff.  Also, they are the primary trainers to the rest of the agency.
  • Management support and buy in, and having local management require attendance of their staff at the training sessions is a must.
  • Realize and be prepared for fluctuations in the operational tempo which may affect resources and training plans.
  • Tie the RM training message to the agency mission in that, managing records is a critical link to executing the mission of the agency.
  • Also, tell staff upfront that space is limited and to give them the opportunity to prioritize which class they would attend.  This will cut down on no-shows and last minute cancelations.

The 2010 RM self-assessment will be issued soon.  RM training will be a special focus topic.  We look forward to hearing about your agency’s records management training program as well.

Want to discover more interesting things about TSA? Check out one of TSA’s open government initiative called IdeaFactory at or take a look at the TSA “week at a glance” dashboard which among others things tracks the weekly count of “artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints” at .