NARA & FIRM Draft IT GRS : LUSENET : Federal Information and Records Managers Council : One Thread

FIRM & NARA Meet on Draft IT GRS

Representatives of the Federal Information & Records Managers Council (FIRM) and the National Archives (NARA) Modern Records Program met on the Draft General Records Schedule (GRS) for Information Technology (IT) Records on January 28, 2000, at NARAs Archives II in College Park, Maryland. The FIRM/NARA Focus Group met to construct a practical IT GRS model for review by the records and information management community. The response to the July, 1999, draft IT GRS indicated that a less complicated, higher level approach would be more valuable to the agencies required to implement it.

NARAs Dr. Mike Miller led the meeting. FIRM Council members in attendance were Owen Amber/FWS, Carol Brock/OPIC, Greg Fraser/CIA, Nancy Miller/NLRB, Kathy Schultz/PTO, and John Vasko/CIA. NARA representatives were Bill LeFurgy, Jean Keeting, and Susan Sallaway. Other agency representatives included Bette Behal/USDA, Judy Boley/FCC, James Casssedy/NWML, Steve Chase/OPIC, Steve Greene/Navy, Carl Hice/FCC, Paul Marsden/USDA, John Spann/Navy, and John Wood/NIMA. Dr. Patrice McDermott of OMB Watch also participated in this meeting.

Extensive discussions of the draft IT GRS led to re-categorizing elements into three areas: policy, planning, and operations. The policy and planning areas initially outlined in the GRS were determined to be agency mission-specific: thus not covered in a GRS.

A number of items were consolidated under the operations area. The operations category was reduced to the primary functions of IT shops, as presented by the focus groups participants. IT operations were assigned the subcategories of project specific records, application records, and electronic records. Discussions on how to address electronic records were settled by NARAs position that electronic records would be addressed in each schedule rather than in a separate GRS.

The IT community requested that an abbreviated version of the GRS be presented in a table format which would be a reference guide for the average user. An index would be attached to the table, describing the retention options in more detail. The wording of the items in the index needs to be negotiated with information technologists in order to establish and agree upon the terminology to be used.

Focus group discussions concluded that most applications were mission specific (not administrative) systems. Mission applications warrant separate scheduling by each Agency. These discussions significantly reduced the number of categories in the IT GRS, making the schedule much easier to reference.

The IT attendees made distinctions among platform records, application records, and network applications, indicating that these three groups of records should each be addressed separately in order to make the GRS understandable. Agencies are expected to file GRS-item exemption requests if and when their business processes require them to adopt alternative disposition practices. Backup tapes are not to be considered as a part of this GRS.

NARA staff has taken the suggested changes and will incorporate them in a new draft IT GRS for review by the Archives and Federal Records Managers. Opportunity for further comment and refinement will be provided. Generally, all agreed the Focus Group concept works well and will be used for future initiatives been NARA and FIRM.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2000

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