Feb 13 2020

How Agencies Are Transitioning to Electronic Archives

Printers, scanners and other products made by companies such as Brother International can ease the migration.

Federal agencies are nearing the end of a 10-year project to go paperless, and they’re about to begin the most challenging part of the process.

By 2022, they must comply with a 2019 directive from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Office of Management and Budget that requires all permanent records to be “in an electronic format and with appropriate metadata.” 

The government has been working to develop “a 21st-century framework for the management of Government records,” notes a 2012 memorandum from NARA and OMB, and agencies have made solid progress since then.

For those that need to take the final steps, many companies, including Brother International, a leading maker of printers and scanners, have solutions that can help agencies save and share documents in accordance with the NARA/OMB directive.

DISCOVER: Agencies need to move to a world of digital records. See which solutions can help you get there. 

Archiving Paper Records Is the Next Big Challenge

The 2012 memorandum set an initial major deadline for agencies to manage all permanent electronic records in electronic format by the end of 2019. The most recent annual report available from NARA, published in September 2019, shows excellent progress. About 98 percent of senior agency officials for records management (SAORMs) were confident that they would meet the deadline. Many had already completed objectives such as implementing an electronic records management system.

“If you walk back through time, we wanted agencies to move away from a print-and-file process, such as getting an email, printing it out, and putting it in a folder,” says Laurence Brewer, chief records officer at NARA. “The goal of the 2012 directive was to take records that were already digital and keep them digital, which required a transition and a redesign process around workflows.” 

Lisa Haralampus, director of records management policy and outreach at NARA, says that the next step — electronic management of all records, not just those that were born digitally — is a much bigger stretch.

“Agencies still have a lot of legacy paper that needs to be managed,” says Haralampus. “They need a system to transfer that paper to us electronically after 2022.”

Brother is among the companies that can provide those systems to the federal government, and that is equipped to meet the government’s unusual regulatory needs.

For example, many of Brother’s all-in-one printer/scanner/copier products are compliant with the Trade Agreements Act (TAA) and are listed on several governmentwide acquisition contracts

In addition to fast printing for day-to-day operations, the products can be integrated into overall electronic records management workflows. Features include two-sided scanning and the ability to directly upload scanned files to either network or cloud-based destinations.

Once scanned, Brother devices add a layer of much-needed security. Scanners secure any new PDF files with a four-digit PIN that can only be opened by designated users; files are transmitted to a server or network using security protocols that protects all data traveling to and from the device.

Organizations can further enhance their security by ensuring that all devices using the printer — laptops, tablet and smartphones — are all properly authenticated on the agency’s network.

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