Obama: Agency Records Must Go Digital

President Obama issued a memorandum Monday ordering federal agencies to move to a digital-based records keeping system in an effort to save taxpayer dollars, promote accountability and increase transparency.

Each agency now has 120 days to develop a plan for improving its records management program with respect to electronic records, including email and social media. Agencies are also encouraged to deploy cloud-based services and storage solutions, according to the memo which you can read below.

“The current federal records management system is based on an outdated approach involving paper and filing cabinets. Today’s action will move the process into the digital age so the American public can have access to clear and accurate information about the decisions and actions of the Federal Government,” Obama said.

Agencies also have 30 days to designate a senior agency official to supervise this initiative.


Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew and National Archivist David Ferriero have 120 days to issue a records management directive that gives agency heads specific orders to reform and improvement records management policies.

This directive will focus on:

  • creating a Government-wide records management framework that is more efficient and cost-effective;
  • promoting records management policies and practices that enhance the capability of agencies to fulfill their statutory missions;
  • maintaining accountability through documentation of agency actions;
  • increasing open Government and appropriate public access to Government records;
  • supporting agency compliance with applicable legal requirements related to the preservation of information relevant to litigation; and
  • transitioning from paper-based records management to electronic records management where feasible.

According to the White House, over the last 10 years, the National Archives and Records Administration has taken in an average of 475 million pages of records per year.

That has increased in recent years with the volume of electronic records that now total 142 terabytes of memory.


According to a recent report by the National Archivist and Records Administration, agencies have done a poor job of managing the increased volume and diversity of information that come with advances in information technology, according to the White House.

Managing Government Records – November 28, 2011

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