OMB in memo M-19-21 has set new policies for agencies on the transition from paper-based to electronic record-keeping as required by the President’s Management Agenda, which calls for a fully electronic environment by the end of 2022—at which time the National Archives and Records Administration is to stop accepting paper records.
“The federal government spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of hours annually to create, use, and store federal records in analog (paper and other non-electronic) formats. Maintaining large volumes of analog records requires dedicated resources, management attention, and security investments that should be applied to more effectively managing electronic records. The processes that create analog records increase burden on citizens by requiring them to conduct business with the government in person or by mail, rather than online, and trap valuable federal data in paper records where it can only be extracted manually and at great expense,” it says.
The memo overall requires agencies to ensure that their records are created, retained, and managed in electronic formats with appropriate metadata; to develop plans to close agency-operated storage facilities for paper and other analog records; and to transfer those records to NARA or commercial storage facilities.
The memo also sets a series of interim deadlines. By the end of this year, agencies are to manage records electronically “to the fullest extent possible”; by the end of 2022, they are to manage all permanent records in an electronic format with appropriate metadata and manage all temporary records in an electronic format or store them in commercial records storage facilities. By September 30 of next year, it adds, NARA will issue updated regulations and guidance to provide clear standards for fully electronic recordkeeping, including electronic records storage, formats, and metadata, as well as transfer guidance.
The memo also covers practices expected of agencies including designating responsible officials, annually informing employees of their responsibilities, complying with NARA standards, and more.