Press/Journalists
Press Release
December 17, 1997
Defense Department and National Archives Unite to Help Government Manage Electronic Records

Washington, DC - A new, joint effort to help the Federal Government meet the challenge of managing records successfully in the digital age was announced today by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The agreement’s intent is to help the government’s records managers overcome the special problems of ensuring that federal records in such electronic forms as e-mail and word-processing files are safe and accessible.

John Carlin, Archivist of the United States, and Anthony Valletta, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence, have signed an agreement to collaborate on developing and enhancing standards and specifications for automated records-management systems, applications, and tools. The collaboration will start with a review by NARA of the government-wide usefulness of a standard that DoD has recently established for electronic records-management software.

This standard defines the basic legislative, operational, and regulatory requirements to be met by records-management products bought by the Department of Defense. The standard is known officially as the Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications, DoD 5015.2-STD. Along with the standard, DoD will implement a test and certification program in which vendors can submit electronic records-management software for certification of compliance with the standard. The certification program will enable DoD to acquire records management products that have been demonstrated as complying with the standard.

NARA will review the DoD standard and the testing program for their applicability throughout the Federal Government. Once this review is completed, NARA and DoD will work together to extend the standard to cover additional aspects of records management--for example, to facilitate the exchange of records-management information between NARA and federal agencies, and to automate records-management actions, such as the submission, approval, and implementation of records schedules. This will be done in conjunction with work called for in NARA’s Strategic Plan to re-engineer the processes by which Federal records overall are identified, appraised, scheduled, and tracked while in agency custody.

Today’s agreement is the outgrowth of interactions between DoD and NARA over the past three years in a variety of efforts by DoD to improve the management of its records. Many of the DoD initiatives have potential benefits across the Federal Government. NARA's strategic commitment to promoting full life-cycle management of records creates a strong interest on its part both in helping DoD to achieve its objectives and in promoting broader use of DoD solutions that qualify as best practices for records management.

Archivist Carlin called the agreement "a major step in a long effort to assure the American public that valuable government records will not be lost through electronic deletion, deterioration of computer media, or obsolescence of computer hardware and software. NARA’s mission is to provide ready access to essential evidenceCin electronic or paper formatCthat documents the rights of citizens, the actions of federal officials, and the national experience. We are grateful to the Defense Department for its ground-breaking accomplishments and its willingness to work with NARA on ways to help protect electronic records throughout the Federal Government."

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or e-mail public.affairs@nara.gov.

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