NARA releases first reports on federal agency email management

Federal records officials say agencies can do more to strengthen the “backbone of open government.”

The National Archives and Records Administration recently published federal agency records management reports, including for the first time, reports on how agencies manage their emails.

“This year we added an email management report to our annual reporting requirements, to help us learn how successful agencies were at meeting that target,” said Laurence Brewer, chief records officer for the federal government. “Overall, at this point, the results are trending positive. Most agencies have taken action, but there is still a way’s to go in many areas, including policy promulgation, systems implementation, and — important for NARA — transferring email to our agency for permanent preservation.”

Email records are part of the 2011 memo signed by former President Barack Obama on managing government records.


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Another memo issued a year later directed agencies by Dec. 31, 2016 to “manage all email records in an electronic format.”

“Email records must be retained in an appropriate electronic system that supports records management and litigation requirements (which may include preservation-in-place models), including the capability to identify, retrieve and retain the records for as long as they are needed,” the memo stated. “Beginning one year after issuance of this directive, each agency must report annually to [the Office of Management and Budget] and NARA the status of its progress toward this goal.”

Question and answer

Agencies answered four questions when reporting their email management. Those questions included information about usability and retrievability of emails, establishment of retention schedules, categorization of emails, and the general state of an agency’s email policies.

The highest number of points for these four questions is…

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