A recent survey of federal records managers found they need better technology skills to carry out President Obama’s memorandum for Managing Government Records and are worried their budgets will not increase to handle the job.
The June survey by Iron Mountain Inc. said the success of the directive may rest on federal records managers’ developing new skills. More than 70% of the 100 managers surveyed cited the need for training as their top concern while 68% and 61% named staff and budget resources as additional worries.
The lack of solid computer skills to manage digital data was the biggest problem for federal managers responding to the survey. Only 9% said they were “very strong” when it came to using cloud-based applications and only 51% are comfortable in their ability to store and manage electronic data.
Obama’s 2011 memo on government records was aimed at cutting costs and opening the way for more public access. Managers are eagerly waiting an updated directive this month from White House and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to further develop the policy. The Iron Mountain survey was done in anticipation of the new order.
“Collaboration is the key. Funding is the key. Training is the key,” Sue Trombley, Iron Mountain’s managing director of consulting told Breaking Gov.
Nevertheless, Trombley said there is anxiety among records managers waiting for the new directive.
“There is some concern it really won’t have the teeth it should have. What happens in November if there’s a new administration? Does the foot come off the accelerator pedal,” she asked.
Iron Mountain said in a press release the survey sought to understand records managers’ attitudes toward the memorandum and the overall health of their current programs, as well as to identify their concerns for the pending directive.
The survey also found:
-85 percent said they personally supported the President’s 2011 Memorandum and 93 percent said their agencies have prioritized improving records management processes.
-The vast majority believe their agencies have made it a priority to improve the current records management process.
- Respondents overwhelmingly gave themselves high grades for their current records management practices, including 100% indicating they were “strong” when it came to protecting records and 97% saying they were “strong” when it came to complying with the Federal Records Act.
-Seven in 10 believe they have a “better” plan now for storing and managing government records since the March deadline for complying with the original directive.
-Nearly two thirds of employees involved with federal records feel that improving the management of government records is a “significant” priority within their agencies.
-More than six in ten respondents believe their budget for records management will not change.
-Partnerships are working. Federal records management teams that partnered with other departments such as IT, Legal and COOP had higher confidence in the effectiveness of their records management practices than those who didn’t partner with other agencies.
“This directive has fostered collaboration,” Trombley said. “Agencies within a department are talking to each other as they work harder.”