my new job, some thoughts on CIOs, and a free email archiving solution –

My agency was recognized by NARA in their Senior Agency Official for Records Management Annual Report Analysis as one of several federal agencies “that appear to have robust and
comprehensive approaches to meeting [email storage requirements outlined in the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18), aka “The Directive”]. The information contained here may prove
useful to other agencies looking for real world examples of managing email.”

From our SAO report:

The USAB is a small agency using a cloud based email system. Inbound and
outbound emails are journaled from an exchange server to the cloud vendor’s
server. The email system processes the emails and indexes the files into a
document database where the text and attachments of the email are captured.
Permanent and temporary email records are declared and categorized based on
metadata and content defined by the agency records schedule. Once an email is
declared a record and categorized, it can no longer be deleted or modified in
the records management repository by an end user. The USAB Record
Manager is responsible for reviewing and approving records identified for
disposition to ensure records are categorized appropriately and disposition
periods are set correctly.

I like my job. It is exciting to be working with emerging RM technology and looking at it through a 508 lens. I’m looking forward to developing keywords and getting back into SQL to get incoming emails to automatically conform to our file plan. My agency is NOT using NARA’s Capstone approach to email management, and I agree with the speaker at a Feith event who said that Capstone is an admission of failure. I know that email can be categorized in real time. We’re doing it. It’s going to be great. I’m so excited about the impacts of this technology on FOIA requests and discoverability. People think RM is boring, but the idea of information governance will never not be exciting to me. Managing government email is such a huge part of government accountability, transparency, and openness.

Speaking of email, a few of you sent me this Post article about “the rise of the CIO”. I’ve been thinking about the “CIO skills” identified in that article, and how essential they are to solving this email problem – so much of an information retention strategy has to do with ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE. I’ve been thinking about this today because of the recent news about Ash Carter’s use of personal email: it just becomes so clear that when we expect unresponsive IT services, that of course we turn to unofficial channels to conduct business.

So, I haven’t read anything yet framing email policy as a culture shift problem, although certainly I’ve talked about it with CIOs and senior records managers. What I’m really curious about is the proportion of female CIOs, especially compared to gender ratios within IT within the federal government. It seems to me that some of the “skills” that are apparently difficult to hire for in IT/tech are ones that are perhaps missing from the talent pool because there are structural barriers to entry for women at lower levels, so, it would make a sort of intuitive sense to me that maybe there are a few more cracks in the glass ceiling that to slip through into that PARTICULAR position because it relies so heavily on soft skills that traditionally read “female.” I guess SOMEONE has been out of graduate school long enough to be thinking creatively again about research.

Finally, a quick treat for those of you who are curious about experimenting with email management on a budget: check out this post by my friend Paul about Stanford’s ePADD email management software. This looks like a reasonable solution for smaller organizations.

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