OMB Watch Praises Presidential Memo on Modernizing Records Management

-For Immediate Release-
November 28, 2011

Contact: Brian Gumm, (202) 683-4812,

OMB Watch Praises Presidential Memo on Modernizing Records Management

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2011—OMB Watch praises President Obama for pushing federal agencies to create new records management systems that take advantage of digital technologies while protecting the public’s right to information about the actions and decisions of federal agencies. A Presidential Memorandum issued today directs agencies to report on their efforts to make better use of digital technologies and to bring government recordkeeping into the 21st century.

The memo requires each agency to report on its current records management and to consult with the public about improvements. Then a team of senior officials from the Office of Management and Budget, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Department of Justice will develop a records management directive for the executive branch overall.

"Digital technologies hold the promise of more efficient recordkeeping and reduced storage costs, but e-mail and other new communications tools have significantly increased the volume and diversity of the information that federal employees are expected to archive. To be responsive and effective, the public sector needs to employ modern IT management techniques equivalent to or better than those the private sector uses," said Katherine McFate, president of OMB Watch. "The public has a right to know how decisions are made about regulating chemicals and food safety; this requires proper records management."

The federal government employs over 2.7 million people who produce an average of over 475 million pages of information each year. The executive branch of the federal government consists of 15 cabinet-level agencies (with over 75 sub-agencies), 30 independent agencies, and at least 29 boards, commissions, and committees, and familiarity with and use of digital technologies varies dramatically across agencies.

"Today’s announcement moves us closer to the time when all federal agencies are systematically using and improving digital records management techniques. This will save staff time and costs. It should also make public records more open and available to citizens," McFate continued. "There's a lot of work to be done, and this is the first step in a process."

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OMB Watch is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting government accountability, citizen participation in public policy decisions, and the use of fiscal and regulatory policy to serve the public interest. Find OMB Watch on Facebook and Twitter.

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