New Rule for Digitizing Records: What you need to know

Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts on the new rule for digitizing federal records. As we mentioned in a previous post, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently published the final rule for digitizing permanent federal records. This new rule, known as 36 CFR § 1236 Subpart E, will be effective starting June 5, 2023. The federal government is undergoing a digital transformation and this new rule is a significant step towards achieving that goal. In this series, we’ll provide you with an overview of Subpart E and how it will impact your agency’s records management practices.

With the onset of digital transformation, the federal government is experiencing a significant shift. As a part of this initiative, NARA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have issued two crucial memorandums, M-19-21 and M-23-07. These memos highlight the importance of modernizing and transitioning to digital processes and workflows in the federal government to enhance efficiency, transparency, and accountability.

In line with these memorandums, NARA added the new Subpart E to its records management regulations to provide standards for digitizing permanent records. The goal is to enable federal agencies to dispose of source records when appropriate and according to the Federal Records Act amendments of 2014. This is an important step towards achieving the government’s goal of digital transformation.

It is worth noting that the subpart covers permanent paper records that are digitized using reflective digitization techniques. This includes most types of paper-based documents, like text documents, maps, posters, and photographs, but it doesn’t cover other types of media like film or audio tapes. For questions about digitizing media types that are not covered by the guidelines, contact the Records Management Policy and Standards Team at

Subpart E doesn’t cover other laws and regulations that apply to documents and digital files, like how to handle classified information or how to comply with 36 CFR part 1194 (section 508). Agencies may also need to keep source records even after digitizing them because of legal requirements or business needs. Agencies should work with their legal counsel and other officials to make sure they’re following all other applicable requirements.

In short, it is important for agencies to follow Subpart E to make sure their permanent digitized records are complete, accurate, and meet the standards set forth. Agencies also need to be aware of other laws and regulations that apply to documents and digital files.

3 thoughts on “New Rule for Digitizing Records: What you need to know

  1. NARA has provided excellent Information for Agencies. It is greatly appreciated.

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