When I was in high school we used to try and predict the future by shaking our magic 8 ball. More realistically, we can’t tell the future by flipping a coin or shaking a toy. However, we can prepare by working with others and doing research. To gain a deeper understanding of the future of Federal Records Management, Iron Mountain recently sponsored a survey of 100 federal workers who are involved with records management at their agency. The profile of these people spanned from records managers to CIOsacross 20 different federal agencies. Our goal was to understand the expectations and assumptions around the Presidential Memorandum – Managing Government Records.
So, what did we learn? We learned that 97% of agencies feel they are strongly complying with the Federal Records Act, and therefore, federal agencies have a lot of confidence in their records management program. Nonetheless, 85% are supportive of the memorandum and dedicated to helping improve their program. We learned that records are a “significant” priority to agency employees, and that 93% of agencies are prioritizing improving records management processes. And, we learned that agencies who worked across departments to respond felt more confident in their current performance, for this is power in partnership.
The survey results provided a very positive outlook for our federal records programs. However, there is still opportunity to improve. Only 9% of respondents were confident in their ability to use cloud based applications, and 51% were confident in their ability to manage digital records. Subsequently there will be challenges in having a fully integrated solution for records management across both physical and digital records.
Thinking about it helped, overall 69% of agencies felt that they have a better plan to store and manage electronic data, and 81% felt they are more conscious of records management as a result of the March 27th deadline. The March deadline required that the agencies do an inventory of their current processes and therefore increase their awareness.
When we asked, 77% of those surveyed shared that they are anticipating a focus on protecting access to records, and 76% are anticipating tighter regulations around compliance with the Federal Records Act. We know that there are broad concerns such as having a budget to implement change and finding staff to do the work.
Life is more predictable then what the magic 8 ball will tell you, but we still don’t know what the directive will say. However, what we do know, is that we will be ready to help the government when we find out.