Standardization is fundamental for bringing a vast variety of electronic records under control. It enables capturing and preserving original records as well as evidence of any access or change to the records. Creating standards within and across organizations is an extreme challenge that must be met.
The 2011 Presidential Memorandum on Managing Government Records and subsequent 2012 Directive established values and strategic direction for managing federal electronic records without creating strict standards.
The Battelle Record Management Office relies on a Defense Department standard for enterprise content management systems to be secure, searchable, and capable of preserving contextual relationships and on the Code of Federal Regulations regarding equivalence of electronic records and signatures to paper. The result demonstrates a record’s integrity and authenticity and enables it to be discovered and accessed.
Defined access permissions and an audit trail add further assurances. Interoperability through application program interface layers is another requirement, being addressed through advanced platform development, which may provide the solution for authenticity and contextual preservation.
The vast array of electronic media, file formats, and record types produced by the conduct of scientific research and the work of its supporting business units would be unmanageable without some form of standardization. The intricacies of the connections between the creator organizations would be incomprehensible, and the breathtaking volume of records would be unnavigable.
Devising and implementing global standards across the parent organization, however, is nearly inconceivable. Every semantic business unit within each business line within the market verticals conducts business in the manner best suited to its success.
As a result, even standardizing the records retention schedule can be a challenge. How many international non-profit 501c(3) charitable trusts dedicated to scientific discovery and its government and commercial applications across multiple market verticals have public-facing retention schedules to consult for comparison?
In developing a comprehensive records management program, we aim to identify and create executable standards in each arena, building them into processes and procedures – frameworks designed to satisfy staff, clients, and regulatory agencies – based on internal organizational and departmental expertise, exercising determined and judicious conversation and collaboration. Passion for artefactual preservation aside, our mission is to provide solutions to the needs of the business via the capture and preservation of the evidence of their operations.
On the Managing Government Records Directive
Effective records management programs balance efficiency, cost-effectiveness, transparency, and risk. In November of 2011, President Obama signed the “Presidential Memorandum – Managing Government Records,” officially beginning the federal government’s design and implementation of a modern records management program that forces the adaptation of government activities to the electronic environment.
Self-assessment, the reduction of redundancy, and knowledge management are all identified within the memorandum as the values of sound records management – not the preservation of the public record for its own sake or a democratic ideal.
The directive puts efficiency first in the General Records Schedules as well, aiming to reduce schedules by aggregation of records series in a move that could result in more efficient dispositioning via reducing the burden on both users and records managers. Archivists will be familiar with Greene and Meissner’s minimalistic “More Product, Less Process” approach, a modern compromise between adequacy and efficiency when faced with overwhelming volume.
In records management, similar principles guide big bucket scheduling or scheduling records by aggregation. They’re facets of the same attempt to preserve the mission of records and archives, carrying out retention activities efficiently without losing context and value in the face of skyrocketing volume.