A new presidential administration often provides new opportunities to re-evaluate current government programs and processes. As most in government are keeping an eye on how the new presidential administration will handle technology modernization initiatives, one of the greatest opportunities for modernization improvements may not be apparent to all – a focus on modernizing the government’s records and information management (RIM) practices. With the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee looking for “answers from the Trump White House and 55 federal agencies about their compliance with federal record-keeping laws,” more modern RIM practices should be a significant focus.
The concern about modernizing federal records and information management was very apparent among the attendees of the Digital Government Institute’s annual E-Discovery, Records & Information Management Conference & Expo, which took place on Wednesday, March 22 in Washington, DC. Addressing an audience of government and industry RIM professionals, Iron Mountain’s Director of Product Management, Tyler Morris and Marisa Banigan, Product Manager, laid out a vision for a “fresh start” for RIM professionals, which enables agencies to integrate more modern approaches, make significant progress in reducing their footprint and simply clean out the proverbial records storage garage.
So, what can government agencies do to establish a more modern and sophisticated program for records management? This is clearly not an easy task, and not one that will happen overnight, but if agencies consider the following updates, it will go a long way to strengthening their overall RIM programs. Among Iron Mountain’s recommendations were:
- Incorporate modern technology capabilities: RIM processes have notoriously been a heavily manual activity, requiring significant resources and manpower. Complimenting these practices with leading technical capabilities such as automation and analytics will create a more efficient and streamlined RIM program. Automation ensures that an agency’s information inventory is continuously kept up-to-date through automated governance and retention policies, while advanced analytics enable them to extract greater value out of their information.
- Leverage offsite storage and leasing options: overflowing records storage within government offices is literally pushing employees into a corner. As agencies re-consider their physical records storage options, they should consider self-managed leasing options or fully-managed offsite storage facilities. Not only are many of these options NARA-validated, but they also help agencies to meet Reduce the Footprint requirements. Best of all, in addition to reducing physical space requirements – that can be better utilized for other mission-oriented activities – these solutions also significantly cut costs.
- Get a head start on the 2019 deadline: a key component of the 2012 Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18) requires agencies to manage all their electronic records in an electronic format. This seems like a “no brainer,” but it requires changes in technology, processes and procedures – changes that will lead to a more modern electronic records storage capability. Agencies should initiate this compliance now to take advantage of the full benefits prior to 2019, as electronic records management requirements can drive an immediate impact.
- Update information governance frameworks: a framework established years ago is quite frankly ineffective. RIM programs change over time and so should the information governance frameworks that guide those programs. This is the only way to keep pace with change, to ensure RIM programs remain up-to-date and prevent issues in the future.
As agencies continue to collect ever-increasing volumes of information, the stores of digital and physical records are only going to increase. Agencies should take advantage of the current transitionary period to make modernizing their RIM programs a top priority. This will not only put them in excellent shape to meet compliance mandates like the 2019 email deadline and Reduce the Footprint requirements, but will strengthen their overall mission capabilities and risk avoidance positioning.
To learn more about RIM best practices, and how federal agencies can set their “fresh start” in motion, please visit http://www.ironmountain.com/Solutions/Federal-Government.aspx.