J. Timothy Sprehe, long-time observer of the federal records management scene and president of Sprehe Information Management Associates, has reviewed the initial release of the Records Management Profile of the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) in Federal Computer Week — and finds that the profile “focuses exclusively on the risk management side of records management.”
What does this mean for federal records managers?
Records managers strive to balance the need to safeguard information with the equally important need to disseminate it. The FEA profile for records management is an attempt to do just that for all federal records. But as I’ve written before, I’m not sure that a peaceful accord can always be found between the two — especially, perhaps, in something so ambitiously all-encompassing.
The profile, a joint creation of the Office of Management and Budget, the CIO Council, and the National Archives and Records Administration, is intended to provide a “framework for incorporating statutory records management requirements and sound records management principles seamlessly into agency work processes, enterprise architectures, and information systems.” (You can download the profile in PDF from OMB’s website here).
However, in his review, Sprehe concludes that the profile “makes no connection between records management and information management, information retrieval, information sharing, knowledge management, and content publishing and delivery â€” all functions in which records play a critical role.”
Records are only useful to the extent that the information they contain can be accessed, used, and shared. Any records management plan that doesn’t take that consideration into account — whether applied to a freelancer’s filing cabinet or a corporation’s warehouse — is simply not going to work in practice.
Until it comprehensively addresses the content side of the equation, the initial release of the FEA Records Management Profile risks being little more than a recommendation to buy more shelving.