Release of Electronic Messages White Paper

We are pleased to announce the release of the Electronic Messages White PaperThroughout fiscal year 2016, NARA conducted research to assess current practices in Federal agencies regarding the management of electronic messages and use of electronic messaging technology. This white paper represents NARA’s findings as of March 2016. On the whole, NARA’s research indicates that records management practices around electronic messages are emerging. As new electronic messaging technologies are created in the marketplace, Federal agencies must determine how to manage the records they create when they implement these tools.

This white paper is intended to help agencies begin to address the management of electronic messages beyond email. NARA’s research included a review of current guidance, analysis of agency reports, forums with agency records managers, and research into capture tools. For the purposes of this research project, we focused on text and chat/instant messages. NARA will continue to ask for detailed information on agency use of electronic messaging. NARA’s future goals include producing guidance and sharing promising practices to manage electronic messages.

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2015 SAO Reports Analysis

We are pleased to announce the 2015 Senior Agency Official for Records Management (SAORM) Annual Reports Analysis is now available (.pdf).

David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, said:

Working together, NARA and all agencies continue to make progress on the key goals and requirements in the Directive. For us to succeed as a records management community, the SAORMs in each agency must drive the change that needs to happen if we are to realize the vision of a digital Government. Based on the data summarized in this report, we are making progress, but there is still much work to do.

The analysis shows that SAORMs reported they:

  • Will meet the email target by the end of this year (92%).
  • Will meet the target to manage permanent electronic records in an electronic format by the end of 2019 (92%).
  • Are taking actions to ensure records in non-official messaging accounts are captured in an official account within 20 days (83%).
  • Will submit schedules for all existing paper and other non-electronic records by the end of 2016 (91%).
  • Are preparing for the upcoming change in Presidential administration (79%).

In addition, a majority of SAORMs indicate they are considering or using the Capstone Approach for managing email records.

This year, in the interest of transparency and open government we posted all SAORM reports on our website for all to view. We plan to continue to post future SAORM reports to the website.

We also released the 2015 Records Management Self Assessment (RMSA) in July. We encourage you to review both the 2015 SAORM Annual Report Analysis and the 2015 RMSA.

In the fall, we will send agencies information about the upcoming 2016 reporting cycle. If you have any questions about the SAORM reporting process, please leave a comment or contact

Posted in Presidential Memorandum, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Widespread Flooding in Louisiana May Threaten Records

The recent flooding in Louisiana is the worst natural disaster since Super Storm Sandy in 2012. Numerous households and businesses have been severely impacted. We remind Agency Records Officers that NARA posts records emergency information and other useful guidance in order for them to pass along this information to other agency personnel – including applicable staff in regional offices in the impacted area.

For advice and assistance on records recovery operations after flooding, please refer to the preservation section of our website. Here, you will find several sections about records recovery processes.

Depending on the damage caused by flooding, it may be necessary for your agency to implement a records recovery operation. Water damage alone can cause major records recovery issues but often floodwaters contain a variety of contaminants as well. The web page also includes a template (.pdf) for contracting for records recovery services and a list of records recovery vendors. This list of vendors is provided by NARA for informational purposes. Inclusion on the list should not be viewed as an endorsement of the quality of the vendor’s services.

NARA staff members are available to provide additional information and guidance.

For advice on records recovery issues, please contact the Preservation Programs Division at Preservation staff monitors the email address and will respond accordingly.

For advice and assistance on other records management issues arising from the flooding, including to report on the emergency destruction of records under 36 CFR1229.10 or the loss of records under 36 CFR1230.14, please contact the appraisal archivist assigned to your agency. Please see this list of agency staff assignments and points of contact.

For advice and assistance on issues concerning classified national security information, please contact the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) via email at or 202 357 5250.

Posted in Records Disaster Preparedness | Tagged ,

Veterans Affairs Records Management Symposium

We have been asked to share news about this event by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This post was updated on Monday, August 15.

2016 VA Records Management Symposium

Topic: Management of Information and Records Into the Future

Date: August 30, 2016 – 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Location: VA Central Office, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC (G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Veterans Conference Center – Room 230)

The 2016 VA Records Management Symposium theme, “Management of Information and Records into the Future” consists of three pillars: Modernizing Records Management, Digital Transformation, and Electronic Communications.  

Laurence Brewer, Chief Records Officer for the U.S. Government, will deliver the keynote speech.  Other featured speakers include Lisa Haralampus (National Archives and Records Administration), Marcus Smallwood (Internal Revenue Service), and John Newton (Alfresco), along with VA panelists such as Samuel Nichols (Agency Records Officer), Martin Hill (Alternate VA Records Officer), Mechelle Powell (National Cemetery Administration Records Officer), Dwayne Jones (Veterans Benefits Administration Records Officer), and Matthew Staden (Veterans Health Administration Records Officer).

The event is open to federal employees as well as government contractor personnel.

Participants can register today for the Symposium via and select the preferred attendance option (i.e., in-person or virtual).  Questions about the Symposium may be directed to

Posted in General, Upcoming | Tagged , ,

Update to OMB Circular A-130

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the updated Circular No. A-130, Managing Federal Information as a Strategic Resource late last week. The Circular details policy updates regarding records management, information governance, open data, cybersecurity, privacy, and acquisitions. The Circular had been under revision for several years, and now complements NARA’s regulations and many of the goals and targets outlined in the OMB/NARA Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18).

Records management is featured more prominently in the new A-130. For example, the Circular states Federal agencies shall:

  • Institute records management programs to document agency activities
  • Ensure the ability to access, retrieve, and manage records throughout their lifecycle
    regardless of form or medium
  • Manage electronic records in accordance with Government-wide requirements
  • Manage all permanent electronic records electronically to the fullest extent possible
  • Manage all email records electronically and retaining them in an appropriate electronic system that supports records management and litigation requirements
  • Submit records retention schedules to NARA for approval in a timely fashion
  • Ensure the proper disposition of Federal records in accordance with an approved records retention schedule
  • Provide training and guidance, as appropriate, to all agency employees and contractors
    regarding their Federal records management responsibilities
  • Designate a Senior Agency Official for Records Management (SAORM) who has overall agency-wide responsibility for records management

Additionally, the Circular requires NARA to:

  • Administer the Federal Records Act and NARA regulations
  • Continue to develop regulations relating to electronic records management
  • Work with agencies to ensure the transfer of permanent Federal electronic records in digital or electronic form to the greatest extent possible
  • Ensure agency compliance with records management requirements, provide records management training, and facilitate public access to high-value Government records
  • Serve as the Executive Agent for the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) program (NARA’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO))
  • Work with CIO Council to assess how the Federal Records Act impacts information resources management activities

Beyond records management, the Circular has many impacts on information management. We look forward to working with agencies in implementing the goals of the Circular.

Posted in Uncategorized

Regulations Update

We are pleased to announce that we have submitted proposed rules affecting records management regulations to the Office of the Federal Register. We are proposing these regulation changes to reflect the Managing Government Records Directive (.pdf) and updates to the Federal Records Act. We also want to account for changes in technology, practice, and NARA’s organization structure.

The specific 36 CFR Chapter XII Subchapter B regulations proposed for revision are:

  • Part 1235, Transfer of Records to the National Archives of the United States;
  • Part 1236, Electronic Records Management; and
  • Part 1237, Audiovisual, Cartographic, and Related Records Management.

We invite you to access the Notice for Proposed Rulemaking on to review these proposed changes. The parts will be available for comment through September 12, 2016. Comments should be made through the comment process on

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2015 RMSA Released

We are pleased to announce that the 2015 Records Management-Self Assessment (RMSA) report has been posted to our website (.pdf). In FY 2015, all 260 agencies that received the RMSA completed the self-assessment. This includes all Cabinet-level department records officers, departmental components, and independent agencies.

Laurence Brewer, Chief Records Officer for the U.S. Government, said, “This is our seventh RMSA, and we are very pleased to see real progress being made by agencies. We expect this improvement to continue, especially as agencies continue to work towards achieving the goals in the Managing Government Records Directive.”

Some highlights from the 2015 report:

  • There continues to be gradual improvement in overall scores.
  • RMSA findings and recommendations are consistent with the goals and requirements of the Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M-12-18). We believe improvement will continue as the requirements of M-12-18 are implemented and as our records management oversight activities persist.
  • The majority of agencies indicated their records management staff have oversight over records created at the highest levels of their agency (e.g., those of the agency head, senior advisors, and executive staff.)
  • Agencies have policies and procedures in place for email. However, there is little or no auditing for compliance.
  • A majority of agencies are planning to implement the Capstone approach for managing their email.
  • Fewer than half of agencies report having records management staff participating in the design, development, and implementation of new electronic information systems. Of those who participate, only a quarter have approval authority.

We use this annual self-assessment to determine whether Federal agencies are compliant with statutory and regulatory records management requirements as well as to identify trends and areas where further guidance may be necessary. Federal agencies can use the annual self-assessment to identify strong and weak areas of their records management programs and to determine the impact of changes they have made since the previous self-assessment. As a whole, the data can be used to improve records management practices within the Federal Government.

We are committed to continuing our work with Federal agencies to strengthen their records management programs and improve the RMSA scores across the Government. We look forward to working with Congress, OMB, and the Federal agencies to strengthen records management, modernize federal recordkeeping practices, and facilitate the transition to a digital Government.

All of our past RMSA reports are available here. If you have any questions regarding the RMSA, please feel free to leave a comment here on the blog or send an email to

Posted in General | Tagged , | 1 Comment

New Transition Related Materials

We have recently published three new materials to help agencies in advance of the upcoming transition of administrations. Two of the products are targeted at political appointees, a video briefing and 1-page handout. Each are titled “Records Management Guidance for Political Appointees”

This video features an introduction from the Archivist of the United States and describes what political appointees should know when they enter, while they work, and when they leave Federal service. The video is available on NARA’s Records Management YouTube Playlist. For agencies that block YouTube at work, we have made the file available for download here. The handout reinforces the points made in the video briefing. Agencies are encouraged to share the materials with political appointees.

Additionally, we have created Model Federal Records and Information Management Entrance and Exit Checklists. These checklists describe basic common records management responsibilities and tasks all individuals should complete when entering or leaving Federal service. The checklists are posted online in a Microsoft Word format to allow records management staff to easily adapt the materials to their specific agency needs.

When preparing for the entrance and exit of employees, agencies should:

  • start as early as possible in each phase of service,
  • integrate records management training into existing practices and procedures, and
  • ensure the removal of any material by an individual is cleared by appropriate staff.

It is important to stress to political appointees and departing officials that records and information they created in the course of their official duties must remain under control of the agency. By ensuring departing officials are aware of Federal records management requirements, agencies can ensure official actions and decisions are documented and preserved for future generations.

If you have any questions about these materials, please email

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FOIA Improvement Act of 2016

President Barack Obama signed into law the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 last week. This law codifies many of the Administration’s openness policies and initiatives into the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and advances open government. It also highlights the importance of NARA’s Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) to the FOIA process.

Follow OGIS’s blog, The FOIA Ombudsman, for updates on how the law will be implemented. OGIS’s Kirsten Mitchell provided an update on OGIS activities at the June 14 BRIDG meeting. You can view the remarks at the meeting here:

The federal records management community may be interested in a new sentence added to the Federal Records Act (44 USC 3102). Here is the updated section with the new text (underlined) added:

§ 3102. Establishment of program of management
The head of each Federal agency shall establish and maintain an active, continuing program for the economical and efficient management of the records of the agency. The program, among other things, shall provide for

(1) effective controls over the creation and over the maintenance and use of records in the conduct of current business;

(2) procedures for identifying records of general interest or use to the public that are appropriate for public disclosure, and for posting such records in a publicly accessible electronic format;

(3) cooperation with the Archivist in applying standards, procedures, and techniques designed to improve the management of records, promote the maintenance and security of records deemed appropriate for preservation, and facilitate the segregation and disposal of records of temporary value; and

(4) compliance with sections 2101-2117, 2501-2507, 2901-2909, and 3101-3107, of this title and the regulations issued under them.

We are reviewing this section for its impact on records management and will continue to post updates here on Records Express.

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First Approvals to Use Capstone GRS

We are  pleased to announce the first two agencies  approved to use General Records Schedule (GRS) 6.1 for email managed under a Capstone approach are the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

Goal 1.2 of the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18) (.pdf) requires all agencies to manage permanent and temporary email records in an electronic format by December 31, 2016.  To assist agencies in reaching this goal, we released Bulletin 2013-02 establishing the Capstone approach.  Capstone allows agencies to manage and schedule email records based on the role or position of the email account owner. GRS 6.1 provides disposition authority for email records managed under a Capstone approach.  

The GRS 6.1 schedule applies only to Federal agencies implementing a Capstone approach as described in this GRS. If an agency is implementing a Capstone approach but using a different disposition from what is provided in this GRS, the agency must submit a records schedule. The public can track, view, and download data on how agencies are choosing to manage their email on our Agency Email Management web page.   

Before implementing GRS 6.1, agencies must fill out and submit a form NA-1005, Verification for Implementing GRS 6.1, to us and receive approval.  The NA-1005 requires agencies to list their Capstone officials (roles and positions that create permanent emails records) and NARA vets them.  Once the form has been approved, we make the information on the form available on Git Hub.  Since the NA-1005 form is a PDF (static, closed document), NARA is making the information available on Git Hub to allow the public to search and download the data. This also is a commitment we made in the Third National Action Plan for Open Government (.pdf) last Fall.

Posted in Email Management 2.0 | Tagged , , ,