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Deadline approaches for recording qualified emails as federal records

Classified email. Agency business. Personal accounts. Capstone … No, this doesn’t pertain to Secretary Clinton’s email discomfiture, nor a secretive government mission. But as federal government employees, odds are that you are not only mindful of these terms, but have a large portion of your daily work lives driven by them.

2016 is here and the Presidential Memorandum M-12-18 on managing government records mandates that all email within the federal government that meets certain requirements be managed as an electronic record by the end of this year. (There are personal and non-record emails that do not fall under the requirements.) Many federal agencies are still determining a workable strategy to meet the goals of transparency, efficiency and accountability; and comply with federal statutes and regulations for records management.

{mosads}The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a guidance bulletin in 2014. Among these recommendations is to use the Capstone approach to relieve many employees of the burden of identifying and assigning an individual value to each email that leads to its deletion, or transfer to a recordkeeping system. The Capstone approach is still human driven; it requires each agency, and its individual employees, to identify what employees are considered “Capstone” employees based on certain factors – be it the type of work they do, their position or job title, or the office and department in which they work. Those descriptions could span both senior and lower level employees. Those emails are then deemed to be federal records – and, as we are all keenly aware in the era of political email ignominies, include agency business conducted through personal email accounts.

And then there are the additional compliance concerns, such as discovery requirements in the event of any litigation, and adherence to the Freedom of Information Act.

If your agency is typical of others – or of any modern-day business, for that matter – the practicality of Capstone versus an auto-categorization or any automated statistical method may seem dubious. And what about mailbox limitations that require frequent email deletion? Conversely, Capstone may make the most sense for some agencies. Or does a feasible combination exist?

The role of information enterprise management in the federal government has been catapulted into prominence – probably where it should have been years ago – but it’s been done so as a reaction to attention-getting events, versus a more-ideal, proactive measure. Information professionals must incorporate systems and processes into data-laden environments with a minimum disruption of critical work – and understand all of the federal guidelines.

Today, Friday, Jan. 29, in Washington the IQ Business Group (IQBG) is hosting “Industry Day.” An incisive and targeted information management conference, Industry Day is the ideal opportunity for federal agency information management personnel to meet and interact with peers, exchange ideas and learn what their counterparts are doing. They can hear from industry speakers representing cloud and data center storage. “Go Digital with Enterprise Information Management” is the keynote speech on Friday.

IQBG understands the challenges inherent in managing government data. As the leading information management provider of services to government agencies and healthcare, we have to be as steeped in the existing and pending rules, laws and regulations as the individuals who crafted them.

We want federal information management personnel to succeed, not just by remaining in compliance, but doing so efficiently. 

Beck is CEO of IQBG and has more than 25 years experience leading both private and public technology sales and services firms.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. Feb. 1 to correct an inaccuracy.


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