report urges states to preserve e-records

Hard drive on fireThe National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) released a report earlier this month urging state CIOs to develop statewide electronic records preservation policies and work with agencies to implement them.

Because official state records are increasingly “born digital” and may never see print during their working life, NASCIO recognizes that effective e-records management is about more than just storage — it’s about “organizing government records so that they are locatable, retrievable, and stored in accordance with state records retention schedules.”

Why CIOs?

NASCIO says that state CIOs have the expertise to understand how e-records and information management “fit within the state’s strategic IT direction and enterprise architecture.” And according to a recent article in Federal Computer Week (“Enterprise Architects Talk the Business Talk,” by Michael Hardy, June 30, 2008), administrators are increasingly seeing enterprise architecture as a tool for planning and management, not for IT. That means CIOs have a unique opportunity to pick up the torch from overlooked and sidelined state records managers and ignite interest in treating e-records as tangible assets that should be truly managed.

NASCIO’s guidance is timely. In the wake of public outcries over decisions by the District of Columbia and even the Society of American Archivists to delete old e-mails, guidance and leadership are sorely needed. The recent halting efforts to develop a federal records management profile suggest that the leadership isn’t going to come from the top down. State CIOs are uniquely positioned to help develop best practices for electronic records and information management policies one state at a time.

NASCIO’s 13-page report, Ready for the Challenge? State CIOs and Electronic Records: Issues, Opportunities and Best Practices, is available as a free PDF from the NASCIO website.

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Author: Paul Lagasse

Paul Lagasse provides expert-to-expert communications services to nonprofit, business, and government clients in the metro Baltimore-DC area. Specialties include science and medical writing, technical report editing, and content marketing.