The Need to Address and Implement a Records Management System
as a Necessary Federal Requirement
The Need to Address and Implement a Records Management System
as a Necessary Federal Requirement
Every single agency within the United States has an imminent need to digitize and preserve their records. Keeping and maintaining proper documentation of their organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions comes as a federal mandate. Agencies in US are required to establish a proper records management program, to record and manage information; supporting activities includes:
- Identify records that need to be created and maintained to conduct their business
- Create, preserve, and most importantly digitalize information within records that contain functions, programs, policies, decisions, procedures, and all the essential transactions of the agency. This would also include such essential records, which are necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the government, as well as of persons directly affected by the Agency activities
- Manage records according to National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requirements; gain NARA approval or record schedules that determine where and how long records need to be maintained; and transfer permanent records to NARA.
- Address the creation, maintenance, use, and disposition of records, including important databases, email, web records, digital audiovisual materials, and records created from new and emerging technologies.
As Federal agencies seek to implement proper records management systems, they also need to ensure transparency and efficiency in their electronic records, which may come as a problem for most agencies. There are still many agency programs that have not fully addressed their record management system. For example; many agencies have not adequately maintained or preserved their emails. Today, there are many agencies in the US that are at a higher risk of improper record management, just because of the absence of improvement plans.
Let Us Look at How Records Management Systems can Ensure Transparency and Efficiency
As we are in in a digital age, where each and every bit of information is being digitalized, we also need to understand that Federal agencies may have different missions, structures, and resources, and may need to adequately manage their electronic records. It comes a Federal requirement that all agencies need to Create, Capture, and Manage their records in compliance with NARA’s statutes, regulations, and guidance by the end of this year.
However, Federal agencies are still struggling to fully comprehend with the records management system as a requirement. In simple words, agencies must:
Any records that are created or received and captured to conduct business activity must be properly stored and maintained. Before the advent of computers and the internet, records were physical paper artifacts, lurking in some store compartment. People filled out paper forms with pens and placed them in envelopes with stamps to transmit them via our US Postal Service. As per the Federal mandate, NARA now requires agencies to create digital records. This will allow for better tracking of record provenance, and also align with ongoing Digital Government initiatives.
According to NARA, if it is necessary to keep and manage certain records over time to meet requirements, this should be done by capturing, storing and managing them in a digital records system. This would effectively capture a record and make it an Authoritative Record. However, there are three requirements that must be met:
- Give each record a unique identifier that follows it forever
- Capture or generate metadata (according to NARA’s authorized schema) about the record and attach it to the record forever. Each event that occurs to the record moving forward is captured and preserved in the record’s metadata
- Create relationships between the record and other records, agents, or businesses
Once records are in a central system, they must be managed properly. This means classifying the records and indexing them. A process of linking the records must be followed to the appropriate business, function, activity, or work process and indexing appropriate metadata for the quick retrieval of the record. Security in the form of access control and storage oversight are also paramount in our vulnerable, digital world. The application of access rules should be recorded as part of process metadata for records at the appropriate level and changes to these rules includes the authority for and the date of the change should also be recorded as process.
The rationale for mandating standards for what makes an Authoritative Record is to provide consistency and scalability for the Digital Government of tomorrow. Generating and associating metadata is done to:
- enable the identification and retrieval of records;
- associate records with changing business rules, policies and mandates;
- associate records with agents, and their authorizations and rights with regard to the records
- associate records with business activities; and e) track processes carried out on records, such as changing access rules or migrating records into new systems
NARA prescribes six broad classes of metadata, which may be used in the management of records:
- Identity – information to identify the entity;
- Description – information to determine the nature of the entity;
- Use – information that facilitates immediate and longer-term use of the entity;
- Event plan – information used to manage the entity, such as disposition information;
- Event history – information recording past events on both the entity and its metadata;
- Relation – information describing the relationship between the entity and other entities
Why is it Necessary to Implement Records Management Systems for Federal Agencies
Luckily, our agencies and businesses have many options. Options for digitalizing their services, for creating and associating all the metadata required by NARA and the Universal Electronic Records Management (ERM) requirements, and even more options for records system software solutions. Aretec, Inc. offers subject matter expertise and capability for record creation, capture, and a state-of-art software integration solution that streamlines and removes the guesswork from this daunting endeavor – a platform we call Context AI.
The Answer to Records Management System Requirements
Context ingests records in a variety of data formats (documents, images, videos, etc.) from a variety of data sources (cloud & on-prem, SaaS, etc.). Context is a native Google Cloud Platform (GCP) solution, which means it meets ISO 15489-1:2016 guidelines for reliability, security, and compliance, and can scale to accommodate petabytes worth of Records effortlessly and in a cost-optimized manner. Context features powerful AI/ML modules that allows extraction of hidden insights, details, keywords, and patterns within Records. It can subsequently initiate notifications, alerts, and virtually other any programmatic action automatically, to accelerate processes.
Context expedites the process of identifying, classifying, and creating Authoritative Records. Context features a built-in no-code workflow interface to configure and automatically enforce business rules for Record retention, disposition, and migration (i.e., Record Schedules).
Context’s unique Human in the Loop assistive tool allows users to include human reviewers in the digitization process where necessary, verifying and validating document metadata extracted by Document AI. Context also allows for in-line updating of the captured metadata or suggestions for fields that might have been missed while continuously training underlying models to increase the accuracy of future predictions. Context provides a comprehensive Application Analytics layer, featuring customizable dashboards and extensive audit & reporting functionality, to enhance data-driven decision-making capabilities for any organization.
Overcoming the History of Neglect
With serious shortcoming and deficiencies with records management systems among Federal Government agencies, there are opportunities to save millions of dollars by implementing the right records management program. More and more taxpayer dollars are being wasted to ensure proper records management. With just the right records management solution, it would undoubtedly mean the salvation of managerial activities. The need to create, maintain, and use records is the need of the hour.
As an organization ourselves, Aretec Inc. understands how important and necessary the transition to electronic recordkeeping is. We are looking forward to working with federal agencies to fulfill the gaps in their records management systems to become compliant with the NARA mandates and deadline. We recognize the challenges that must be resolved for transparency and efficiency of information and records. We can easily implement a cost-effective document management system that can ensure proper documentation of any federal agency’s activities, proper records disposition and transparency. As every agency needs to maintain security of their organization records, accessibility, and adherence with regulatory requirements, an adequate records management system from Aretec would address such needs by enabling indexing, archival, tracking, and search functionalities while also refining filing, retention, and preservation of records.
Partner with Aretec and use Context as your comprehensive NARA-compliant records management solution.