Records Management Initiatives Require Training for Confidence in Compliance
The state of federal records administration could be better. One of the challenges is confidence in records declaration and overall policy. The GAO (general accountability office) blames the lack of data, agency personnel issues, and the general policy framework that drives RM noncompliance.
While agencies are working on these issues by training staff and implementing management oversight, resulting in significant (self-reported) improvement. Despite this progress, more must be done to fulfill this responsibility government-wide.
Industry analysts at Market Connections identified many issues that have affected staff confidence levels. There are three:
A lack of awareness of policies, 46%
The exponential growth in declared records, 28%
The lack of communication between records and IT staff, 28%
I don’t know you, but I feel like I’m living 15 years ago all over again. Thank goodness for local agencies, who have found fertile ground between records and IT. When Market Connections rolls local agencies back into the respondent's results, the majority indicate there is room for improvement with current tools and policies. What’s a records manager to do?
Train and train some more- Agencies must enable records managers with formal training to enhance their knowledge and help them better understand their compliance responsibilities. The Market Connections study strongly correlates organizational compliance with confident, formally trained records staff.
Agencies must name a senior agency official (SAO) to lead compliance efforts. This is different from the SAO's primary responsibility, making it challenging to balance their primary responsibilities with the complex burden of coordinating a compliant records program. If all end-users are well-trained, some of that burden can be shifted. Federal agencies could also do with more records managers.
Automation- We beat this drum over and over at CPS. Automation (with Laserfiche) ensures consistency which supports compliance initiatives. Tools like Laserfiche allow records managers to establish compliance without depending on end-user's interest or know-how. The records policy can be applied consistently, and records rules can be created and managed centrally. Subsequently, records can be easily searched for discovery or FOIA requests. And audit trails can be maintained to support compliance audits.