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Obama Administration Memorandum Creates New Opportunities For Records Management SMBs

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 12/21/2011

A recent presidential memorandum requires federal agencies to digitize their recordkeeping processes, all but forcing additional collaboration with private companies in the area of e-discovery and records management.

On November 28th, the Obama administration issued a presidential memorandum requiring 480 federal agencies to begin the process of digitizing federal documents and creating electronic records management procedures within their organizations.

Records Management

The move has important implications not only for federal agencies, but also for private records management firms, many of which will be called upon to assist with the digitization of millions of existing documents and help create processes for the efficient execution of electronic records management on a go-forward basis.

Tasked with overseeing the initiative, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has estimated that the government's trove of paper documents has grown by 475 million pages each year over the past decade.

In an effort to speed up the government's transition to electronic recordkeeping, the deadlines described in the Obama memorandum are short. Agency heads have 120 days to submit a plan to the OMB and will be required to act on OMB recommendations following another 120-day review period.

It is widely expected that the speed of the transition will require federal agencies to rely even more heavily on third-party private enterprise firms with expertise and resources in electronic records management, further collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors.

Although the presidential memorandum doesn't specifically mention e-discovery, the discovery process (i.e the collection of electronically stored information during a lawsuit) has been the source of both frustration and gross inefficiencies for federal agencies. By forcing agencies to digitize documents and records, Obama is laying the groundwork for a more streamlined and more transparent e-discovery process.

Small and medium-sized businesses that specialize in e-discovery and electronic records management may be poised to benefit from the initiatives mandated by the Obama memorandum. Entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a records management business should consider investing in digital records management technology, in addition to traditional warehouse-based shredding and storage facilities.

If the administration is able to secure appropriations for this effort, the push has the potential to provide one-off and possibly even recurring revenue for records management SMBs during the first quarter of 2012 and beyond.

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