Contributed by Debbie Howlett (25 juin 2010)
The switch to electronic records is a trend many industries in the United States have begun to adopt to ensure security while observing industry regulations for their data. A mandate from President Barack Obama has pushed the healthcare industry to have electronic health records and systems in place by 2014 to increase efficiency while eliminating paperwork. Despite the mandate from the political body, a recent report from Fierce Government IT relays the government itself is not fully making the change and needs to. Recently, the Government Accountability Office relayed electronic record management is not a high priority for the federal government, however, the GAO stated it should be. With the growing volume of paper documents, government sectors could face troubles keeping track of all of them, or more importantly, could face charges for illegally disposing of historical documents without backups. According to a self-assessment conducted by the National Archives and Records Administration, 80 percent of government agencies stated they were “at moderate to high risk of improper disposition of records,” the GAO and Fierce Government IT relay.Valerie Melvin, the director of Information Management and Human Capital Issues for the GAO, has pushed for NARA to adopt and utilize electronic records, doing so in the GAO’s report recently presented at a Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing. While Melvin stated “automation will not solve the problem of lack of priority, which is of long standing,” she still urged the senior-level executives at the association to consider and pay attention to further electronic record management among federal agencies. Email management and records scheduling are two areas the GAO has found to be “glaring problems at federal agencies,” according to Fierce Government IT. Switching to email archiving or other electronic record systems allows for quicker, more efficient searches among sets of documents. Furthermore, systems dispose of no-longer-needed information legally, following compliance regulations. With email becoming among the most common methods for communication, the GAO states trained records managers should be in charge of its safe-keeping, not the users who send and receive the messages themselves. Despite the GAO’s claim that the government considers electronic records management a low priority, government officials recently met with eDiscovery experts at the first annual eDiscovery Readiness for the Federal Government in Arlington, Virginia to discuss how electronic data management can be better used in federal agencies.