Not since the Truman administration more than 60 years ago has a U.S. president decided to overhaul how the federal government manages its records.
But according to records management experts, newly emerging technologies will likely be needed in order for agencies to meet the president's policy goals.
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In the meantime, agencies racing to move email and other documents off their own servers and into the cloud could be looking at a train wreck, warns a senior official at the National Archives and Records Administration. That is if they don't take greater measures to identify and segregate documents that must legally be preserved.
Recognizing that agencies were failing to keep up with the explosive shift from paper to digitally-generated information across the federal government, the Obama administration issued a landmark directive a year ago Nov. 28 aimed at moving federal record-keeping fully into the digital age.
The directive calls for federal agencies, by the end of the decade, to manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format, and to start the transition by the end of next year.
"We are the first government archive in the world to demand this," said NARA's director of litigation, Jason R. Baron.