NARA’s 2022 Mandate Points to Importance of Increased Federal Funding

August 21, 2019—Recent articles in the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News, TechXplore.com, and The Conversation.com address from historians’ perspective a federal directive that the National Archives and Records Administration stop accepting paper records by December 31, 2022.

Archivist of the United States David Ferriero states in the June 28 “NARA Notice 2019-105: New Government-wide Records Management Policy”:

“Today, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a new government-wide policy memorandum, M-19-21, Transition to Electronic Records. This joint memorandum between OMB and NARA establishes new goals for electronic recordkeeping to support government-wide efforts to transition to a fully electronic (paperless) Government. The Administration is committed to transitioning Federal functions to a fully electronic environment and I am proud that they recognized the importance of beginning with records management.

“The most significant part of today’s policy is our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan objective to stop accepting paper records by December 31, 2022. M-19-21 directs agencies to manage all of their permanent records in electronic format by [that date]. Agencies are also required to convert all temporary records to electronic format or store them in commercial storage facilities after December 31, 2022….

“Today’s policy includes additional actions we will take to support other agencies’ transitions to electronic records management. We made a commitment in our Strategic Plan to support other agencies’ efforts to transition to electronic recordkeeping, and we have used M-19-21 to define the actions we will take to meet this goal. Specifically, we will:  revise our standards and processes for retaining and transferring electronic records; issue clear guidance that allows agencies to digitize and, where appropriate, dispose of analog originals; and establish a process to issue limited exceptions to the 2022 ‘no paper’ goal.”

Read the full Notice.

SAA’s Legislative Agenda, drafted by the Committee on Public Policy and approved by the Council in May 2019, notes as a high priority to “ensure robust federal funding for archives”:

“Federal funding for the National Archives must be increased, not simply maintained or reduced. The challenges of managing federal electronic records are substantial, from ensuring the comprehensive transfer of records to providing access to those securely preserved records years and decades after they were originally acquired. These challenges require focused staffing, robust technology, and implementation of new approaches to assure that the essential information created by all branches of the federal government is appropriately preserved and made accessible, and so that NARA meets its mandate to ensure the accountability and transparency of the federal government on behalf of the American people.”

Read the 2019-2020 Legislative Agenda.

SAA encourages all members to watch for advocacy updates from SAA and to take action when NARA funding is debated in Congress.