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Obama Issues Order on Record Management

Source: freedominfo.org

Date: 29 November 2011

The Obama Administration Nov. 28 issued a memorandum on the management of government records, setting the stage for the expanded use of digital-based recordkeeping systems.

“The current federal records management system is based on an outdated approach involving paper and filing cabinets,” President Obama said in announcing the orders. “Today’s action will move the process into the digital age so the American public can have access to clear and accurate information about the decisions and actions of the federal government.”

He ordered agencies to consult with the public and then submit by March plans for how they will improve or maintain their records management programs. These reports will help in the production on an overall records management directive.

The memo is explained in a White House statement and described more in a blog post by Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Management and Budget Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Sunstein wrote:

The Directive will focus on maintaining accountability to the American public through documenting agency actions; increasing efficiency (and thus reducing costs); and switching, where feasible, from paper-based records to electronic records. In addition, all statutes, regulations, and policies must be reviewed to improve government-wide practices in records management. In a key provision, the President has required the Director of OMB and the National Archivist to consult with those inside and outside the government – including public stakeholders interested in improving records management and open government. 

The move generally was praised, with some observers noting the potential costs, according to a Washington Post story.