What Is NARA Compliance?
The OMB memo is a continuation of guidance NARA has been giving agencies for the past decade. “Agencies also must develop plans, consistent with regulations and records management policies, to transfer their analog records to NARA by Dec. 31, 2022, so we can proceed with complete focus on realizing fully electronic government,” Brewer notes.
The Office of the Chief Records Officer publishes an annual “Federal Agency Records Management” report. The report includes agency-reported data on their compliance with records management requirements and their progress toward meeting milestones for electronic record keeping.
The report covering 2019 data shows that agencies are making clear progress on electronic document management.
The report shows, according to Brewer, that 97 percent of agencies believe they will meet the Dec. 31, 2022, deadline to manage permanent records in electronic format with appropriate metadata. The report shows that 93 percent of agencies indicate they will be able to manage temporary records in electronic format.
Many agencies indicated that their records are already created and maintained electronically, according to Brewer.
“Email management is more mature than electronic records management for all records,” Brewer says. “Under 70 percent of agencies met the goal to manage permanent electronic records in electronic format by Dec. 31, 2019.”
What Is an Electronic Document Management System?
Document management is how agencies and other organizations store, manage and track electronic documents. Document management allows agencies to “capture, track and store electronic documents such as PDFs, word processing files and digital images of paper-based content,” IBM’s website notes.
Document management involves the “use of a computer system and software to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper based information captured through the use of a document scanner, ” according to the Association for Intelligent Information Management.
An electronic document management system lets agencies store, access, index, search, retrieve, archive and delete documents. An EDMS is designed to let agencies convert physical documents into electronic forms that can be stored and accessed quickly.
NARA’s Federal Electronic Records Modernization Initiative (FERMI) has developed Universal Electronic Records Management requirements that identify high-level business needs for managing electronic records, Brewer says, which are baseline ERM program requirements derived from existing statutes, standards, NARA regulations, policy and guidance.
Another aspect of FERMI has been NARA’s work with the General Services Administration to make it easier for agencies to acquire the services and solutions needed to manage electronic records.
NARA worked with the GSA to create an Electronic Records Management Solutions category as part of the GSA consolidated schedule. Vendors in that category have all self-certified that they are able to meet NARA’s Universal ERM requirements.
How Do Document Management Systems Work?
A document management system (DMS) is software that controls and organizes documents throughout the agency, and, as AIIM notes, it “incorporates document and content capture, workflow, document repositories … output systems, and information retrieval systems. Also, the processes used to track, store and control documents.”
As IBM notes, most DMSes today include the following components:
- Metadata is usually provided for each document and includes the date a document is stored, its title and a description.
- Indexing, retrieval and search lets users find documents based on document identifiers, metadata and content.
- Security features protect documents, control access and support compliance.
- Workflow lets administrators control the way documents move through the agencies.
- Collaboration tools allow users to edit documents at the same time and track and monitor changes.
- Versioning tools let users retrieve previous versions of documents.
What Is Document Control?
Document control software incorporates the functions of electronic document management systems but specifically helps organizations “manage information, automate records management policies to help monitor who has access to which documents, and remain compliant with standards” such as HIPAA, according to Business News Daily.
As Capterra notes, document control software helps organizations “manage their documents in a way that is compliant with government and industry regulations.”
What Is the Best Document Management System for You?
There are numerous electronic document management system vendors available for agencies to work with. The GSA lists 67 vendors in its Electronic Records Management Solution category. Among them are IBM, which provides document management tools through its FileNet and Content Collector software.
“All federal agencies are required to implement records management systems and practices that ensure NARA requirements are implemented in work processes,” Brewer says. “Agencies have the flexibility to develop or procure compliant solutions that ensure all agency records are managed in accordance with NARA-approved records schedules and policies.”