Agency Records Officers and CIO organizations throughout government agencies breathed a sigh of relief as they crossed the first major deadline in managing email in electronic formats for the Managing Government Records Directive passed last December. The progress most agencies have made since 2012, when the Office of Management and Budget issued the Directive to fully digitize all permanent electronic records by the end of 2019, is remarkable. It’s especially impressive considering how many were still relying on archaic print-and-file methods for record management just two years ago – But there’s still much more work to be done!
2019, the deadline to manage all permanent electronic records in electronic format, will be here sooner than we think, so it’s imperative that agencies continue pushing forward towards digitization of records. Now that most email records are under control, it’s time to tackle file-shares and document repositories – areas where agencies often hit a barrier. This vast, towering wall of mostly unstructured data is as much as 54 percent of an organization’s existing data. What’s more, an estimated 70 percent of that collected information has no relevant value to an agency and can be categorized as either “stale” or “orphaned,” meaning it either hasn’t been touched for three or more years or it lacks any identifiable owner. Also complicating matters is the widespread use of private and public clouds, in addition to on -premise infrastructure, so agencies now have to corral data from multiple sources.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to aggregate data from every source, eliminate everything unnecessary, and retain and classify only what’s needed? Well, with a good strategy and the right tools, agencies can do just that, greatly increasing their chances of reaching The Records Directive goals by 2019. Tools that fit the bill already exist, and interest in producing more is gaining momentum.
Increasingly, the vendor community recognizes the needs of government agencies and the pressure on them to bring massive amounts of data under control. They’ve responded by building solutions that cater to the federal marketplace. Specifically, we are now seeing more cloud-based archiving tools, data visualization and auto-classification tools, and add-on automation tools for cross-functionality.
Cloud-Based Archiving Tools:
The cloud really is just another data source, and it shouldn’t be cause for any additional anxiety, but for some agencies, it is. Fortunately, the newest archiving tools out there today are designed to accommodate the multi-source trend by encompassing all data sources – regardless of platform – including the cloud. With this kind of archiving tool, human decision-making is only required to set the retention policies about classifying data. After that, the technology does the rest, thereby cutting the risk of human error and increasing security at the same time.
Data Visualization and Classification Tools:
For many agencies, not knowing what data they actually have hampers the process of classifying it and creating structure around it. New cloud-based visualization and classification tools can help. These tools, which leverage the metadata that government customers have, create an “information map” and enable agencies to easily identify aging, redundant and trivial information. This allows agencies to cull their data before classifying and storing it. What is the return on investment from these visualization tools? By cutting data that’s not required, agencies are able to shrink their data footprint, thereby reducing both risks and money spent on storage infrastructure-related costs.
Once an agency establishes a good platform and has a strong data management strategy, they can add tools to automate process workflows. One federal agency with 400,000 users had more than 600 active legal holds, which multiple people managed on one extensive spreadsheet – an inherently risky system. But by adding a fairly simple automation tool, they were able to take a risky, manual process and turn it into a tight, automated workflow.
Finding the Tools to Fit Your Agency’s Holistic Strategy
Government agencies are increasingly getting out of the infrastructure business and moving to cloud-based platforms and solutions. But at the same time, data continues to accumulate faster than agencies can manage it and they are still under the gun to meet the 2019 Records Directive deadlines. Having a holistic data management strategy that addresses the multiple challenges is more important than ever.
Click here to learn more about some of the tools available to help agencies scale the wall of data to reach the 2019 Directive deadline.