Now that it’s possible to safely store large quantities of data online, federal agencies have determined that all federal agencies must take steps toward storing all of their records in electronic format. In 2013, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a directive to federal agencies, stating that agencies must make reports on progress made toward the complete electronic conversion of all records.
This doesn’t just apply to scanning documents and converting them to an electronic format. All documents, including emails, must be stored in an electronic database. NARA expects these measures will reduce the cost of record management. Besides saving space, documents stored electronically are quicker and easier to retrieve, thus saving man-hours spent tracking down documents.
Your agency may have to spend a couple years developing a more structured document management system. Start implementing document audits now to make sure you have a streamlined process in place before the deadline. Assess what kind of training your management should undergo in preparation for a substantial reorganization.
Agencies will also have more accountability and transparency for their recordkeeping process. NARA requires that all agencies complete their transition by 2019. In order to plan for the transition, it’s important to take steps to organize documents according to which are considered permanent, which can be destroyed immediately, and which will be destroyed at some date in the future. Once you begin the organization process, you’ll be astonished by how many records will have to be destroyed according to a schedule. Very few documents have to stay with an agency in perpetuity. This offers one explanation as to why so many federal agencies choose to have their document management taken care of by a third party. Companies like Royal Imaging offer LA document management, Houston document management, and document services in many other cities, too.
The memorandum isn’t just to increase organization and transparency. In the past 14 years, the amount of information that every organization, federal and otherwise, has to process has increased immensely. E-mails often contain information crucial to an agency’s processes. Federal agencies must have a comprehensive system in place for accessing both digital and hard-copy documents.
To make sure your agency complies with the deadline, start creating its own internal goals for completing the digitization of their records. Enlisting the help of a third party document management company is the easiest way to get it done. This will allow you to compile both digital and paper records, with paper records scanned and stored using document imaging. The sooner your organization enlists professional help, the sooner you can feel confident that your agency will meet the 2019 NARA deadline.