Starting January 1, 2023, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will no longer accept physical hard-copy records from federal agencies. This transition to electronic government records will result in the largest digitization effort for the federal government ever and require services and expertise across a wide range and diverse set of capabilities.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) laid out a clear vision for all federal agencies to electronically transmit their records to NARA. This guidance requires all federal agencies to transition to digital record-keeping and digitize all records – including legacy paper records.
This will require a multi-step process that agencies will often have to run concurrently. This process includes:
- sorting through all filing cabinets and other paper record storage to determine which items are official records;
- performing digitization according to NARA’s specifications, including compliance with Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) 3-star standards;
- migration of digitized records to NARA’s digital asset management system; and
- proper destruction of physical copies.
The digitization process itself is highly complex with detailed technical requirements. Nearly all federal agencies currently lack the people, processes, and technology to manage a digital record-keeping environment and transition legacy records by the deadline utilizing their current in-house resources. Therefore, mass digitization efforts will require partnering with specialty firms to ensure adequate infrastructure is in place.
Yet very few firms exist with the end-to-end capabilities to accomplish the entirety of this digitization initiative, which could lead agencies to compete for limited resources and increase the risk to the agency.
Grant Thornton Public Sector has created a sequence of critical steps to create a robust digital records program and offers a suite of services and expertise to help your agency transition to digital record keeping safely and effectively. Grant Thornton Public Sector offers service offerings across seven key areas that are essential to meeting the records digitization mandate.
Transformation Assessment and Road Mapping: We use a comprehensive 13-point inspection process to assess your agency against the Federal Records Management Maturity Continuum (FRMMC) and customize a roadmap for how to fill in the gaps.
NARA Requirements Alignment: Maintain alignment with NARA requirements and standards by routinely monitoring for changes to NARA guidelines and work with agencies to ensure your people, processes, and technology are also up to date and current
System Implementation: Implementing an enterprise-wide DAMS, Collection/ Content Management System (CMS) and other enterprise level records management systems. We will work with agency IT departments to ensure systems are up to date and compliant with NARA guidelines, so records stay safe and secure.
Digitization: Grant Thornton Public Sector has partnerships with leading digitization firms in the industry that utilize cutting edge digitization technology that are compliant with NARA digitization requirements.
Software Integration: Once digitized, records need to be managed using sophisticated content management software enabling users to search, mark, retrieve and archive millions of digital records with the click of a button. While powerful, this software needs to be configured by an experienced team within agency’s virtual environment in order to work properly.
Training and Communications: Our communications and training experts can develop role-based, custom training material and job aids to help staff and employees to manage their digital records confidently and effectively. Training can be recorded and accessed on-demand or conducted in-person with social distancing. We can also help you design a comprehensive communications strategy to ensure employees understand the importance and are compliant with your digital records program.
Records Program Management: Grant Thornton Public Sector also provides end-to-end records management program management support for federal clients to make sure the process runs smoothly, and nothing falls through the cracks.
While it may seem that January 1, 2023 is a long way off, the record digitization deadline is fast approaching. Agencies not compliant by the deadline may face penalties, data loss, and potentially even litigation. While the initial effort to digitize agency records appropriately and transition to a digital records program is complex, time consuming, and costly, it will also fundamentally change how agencies operate and create additional operational improvements and efficiencies.
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