Managing Federal and Presidential Records

Mark your calendars for the next Records Management Section Google Hangout!

On Thursday, July 6 at noon Eastern, the Records Management Section will be hosting a hangout on the Federal Records Act and the Presidential Records Act. We will be joined by Gary Stern, (General Counsel), Hannah Bergman (Assistant General Counsel), John Laster (Director, Presidential Materials Division), and Laurence Brewer (Chief Records Officer for the U.S. Government) all from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

You may have additional questions after reading NARA’s Role in Preserving Presidential and Federal Records by David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, in the latest Archival Outlook. Here is your chance to ask!

Be sure to tune in live to ask questions or watch later at your convenience. You can view the Hangout here.

We will be accepting questions for our speakers from you.  If you have a question or topic for discussion please leave it as a comment here or use the #saarmrt hashtag on Twitter.  We will also monitor the comments on the YouTube live streaming page.


Legislating the Creation, Access, and (not) the Retention of Officer-Worn Body Camera Records

As more and more law enforcement incidents are captured on police officer-worn body and dashboard cameras, states are obliged to consider legislation that governs the creation, retention, and public access of such records. Regulations, where they do exist, often lack uniformity between municipalities, cities, and states, as illustrated by the Brennan Center’s guide detailing police body camera retention policies across the U.S.

Awareness of such regulations, and navigating their inconsistencies, is an important part of how records managers execute their positions. What happens when retention and preservation provisions are absent from legislation governing the creation and access of such police records?

The Pennsylvania General Assembly is currently considering a bill that would legislate law enforcement use of body-worn cameras, and more importantly, public access to such records. Approved by the PA Senate (currently pending a vote in the House) on October 19, Senate Bill 976 – an expansion of Pennsylvania’s current Wiretap Act – would essentially do two things.

First, the bill would increase areas where police officers are permitted to use body cameras, such as within private homes and in public spaces. Under the bill, officers would not be required to directly inform individuals they were potentially being recorded. Second, the bill would place a considerable burden on those attempting to access these records.

SB976 stipulates that within 14 days of the incident a written request be submitted that includes, in “particularity”, the date, time, and location of the incident. Each individual in the footage must be identified by the requester, or at the least, described. If a request is denied – grounds for dismissal include lack of “sufficient particularity” –  an appeal must be filed in a PA Court of Common Pleas within 14 days of the denial, a $250 filing fee will be applied, the written request must be resubmitted, and finally “if the requested audio or video recording was made inside a structure, [identify] the owner and occupant of the structure.”

The amendment seems to contradict itself in that it specifically states that “an audio or video recording by a law enforcement officer shall not be subject to production under the act of February 14, 2008 (p.l.6, no.3), known as the right-to-know law” (Section 6702) while stipulating that that a court may grant release if a “preponderance of evidence” are met, including that “disclosure of the audio or video recording would be permissible under the right-to-know law.”

Pennsylvania civics and policy aside, you may be asking where records management fits into all this? While legislating officer-worn body camera use and record access, the bill does nothing to address appropriate retention periods and preservation methods law enforcement entities could be required to employ uniformly across the state. The bill actually removes language concerning retention periods of certain recorded communications. Primary sponsor Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, has acknowledged that provisions governing how long footage and accompanying data must be retained before it’s erased, as well as when a body-worn camera is turned on or off, are not considered in the bill.

The intent of the SB976 may be noble (“body cameras have a civilizing effect on both the officers and members of the public”), and there is no doubt that balancing public transparency, individual privacy, and the integrity of police investigations presents public policy and records management challenges alike. However, constraints to access and record keeping oversights may only serve to distance the citizenry from law enforcement and public officials, rather than fostering the transparency and trust the bills seeks to instill.

As states continue to consider legislation governing the use and access of police officer-worn body and dashboard camera records, records mangers should be engaged in this dialogue. If creation and access to such record can be legislated to serve the public interest, so too can record keeping policies. Records mangers must continue to be advocates for clear and consistent retention and preservation provisions that benefit the public good, in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

Research Data Managment: A Scheduled Series

Research records and data output are proliferating at institutions of higher education around the world. What implications does this have for records management programs? How can university records managers and archivists position themselves as effective resources for the research community? What about the retention of and access to the research record themselves?

The Records Management Roundtable hopes to foster a dialogue on the topic through a series of research data management themed posts. Over the next four weeks The Schedule will feature posts describing collaborative efforts to address research data management, resources and outreach initiatives, incorporating research records into a retention schedule, and the question of faculty research as a public record.

We encourage comments on the posts as well as further discussion at the upcoming SAA annual conference in Atlanta. Finally, if you’re involved in research data management at your institution, we would love to hear about it on The Schedule!

– Records Management Roundtable

Digital Forensics for Archivists

A few weeks ago I attended the Digital Forensics for Archivists course offered by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) at the University of Michigan. It was taught by Cal Lee and Kam Woods both of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Overall, I thought  the class was a very informative and engaging introduction to the field of digital forensics.

The focus of this course is the application of forensic techniques to archival work. Digital forensics (or computer forensics) is “the process of identifying, preserving, analyzing, and presenting digital evidence in a manner that is legally acceptable” (Rodney McKemmish 1999). It is used to discover digital data, recover deleted, encrypted, or damaged file information, monitor live activity and detect violations of policies.

Archivists (and records managers) may be very good at dealing with paper, but may not have as much experience with processing and making available digital content that comes in the form of floppy disks, CDs, and hard drives. The field of digital forensics is very concerned with the same principles as archivists, including provenance, original order, and chain of custody, to apply to criminal and civil investigations. By applying the techniques, archivists are able to identify, extract, and document information from digital media about how it was created without altering the content. It also focuses on finding sensitive or personally identifiable information that may need to be redacted or protected from public access.

Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device with a removable hard drive on the imaging bay prior to forensic capture from Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR)

As a two-day event, this course was particularly helpful because we got to perform hands-on exercises of the tools discussed in the class. These included:

  • BitCurator (includes a number of free, open-source tools to be incorporated into workflows)
  • FTK Imager (creates disk images)
  • Bulk Extractor (scans and extracts information such as credit card numbers, email addresses, or keywords)
  • Fiwalk (creates an output of files in Digital Forensics XML)
  • MD5summer (generates and verifies checksums)

While we may not be seizing evidence from crime scenes, archivists do receive many types of media that require special care to process. I would highly recommend either taking this course if it’s available to you or exploring the materials available on this topic. I myself am looking forward to continuing to explore these exciting developments. I think some of the available tools could have applications in the records management sphere that we should examine and consider. For further reading, check out the BitCurator project, the Forensics Wiki, and the recently released OCLC research report Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-house. I would be very interested to hear about applications of digital forensics in the records management side of the house!

ARMA LIVE Road Show – SharePoint Records Management Certificate Program

 ARMA is bringing its SharePoint Records Management Certificate program to cities across the country.

“In this interactive, fast-paced certificate program, you’ll learn how to successfully implement large and complex Electronic Document & Records Management Systems (EDRMS). The program is facilitated by Bruce Miller, best-selling author and expert in electronic recordkeeping. This certificate program consists of a 2-day seminar and a comprehensive computer-based exam you can take on your own after completion of the course. This certificate program is based on Microsoft SharePoint® 2010, but it is fully applicable to other technology platforms. Work through a detailed 12-step EDRMS methodology and use an EDRMS project modeling tool to facilitate successful implementation. Discover how to avoid common implementation mistakes, overcome common barriers to user adoption, produce a detailed EDRMS project plan, and produce a detailed project roadmap for stakeholders.

Using a hypothetical thousand-person organization as a working model, you will gain insight into core electronic recordkeeping concepts and principles. You are assigned specific roles and engage in critical project discussions and decisions. You’ll also walk through an implementation project featuring typical roadblocks that must be overcome. “

 Upcoming sessions are available at ARMA Canada, and in New York, Kansas City, and Philadelphia. For more info go to

ARMA Spring Seminars

Many ARMA chapters hold Spring Seminars, which are open to both ARMA members and non-members. These all-day educational events are designed to provide Records and Information Management Professionals of all levels with the latest information, trends and skills to provide more value to their organizations. They also offer a great chance to meet with vendors and to network with records professionals in a variety of industries. A few of the upcoming seminars are:

ARMA Metro New York City, in partnership with ARMA Central New Jersey, ARMA Northern New Jersey & ARMA Connecticut Chapters “2013 All-Day Educational Event”
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
8:00am – 5:00pm
New York Life Insurance Company
51 Madison Avenue, between 26th & 27th Streets New York NY 10010
Networking Reception
Location TBD

ARMA Mile High Denver “Are You Ready for a Change? Moving Forward in 2013!”
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
7:30am – 5:30pm
Warwick Hotel
1776 Grant Street, Denver CO 80203

ARMA-Milwaukee “Finding a Diamond in an Electronic Age”
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Crowne Plaza Milwaukee West
10499 Innovation Dr., Wauwatosa WI 53005

ARMA’s Northern California Chapters “Information Privacy – It’s More than Personal”
Thursday, April 18, 2013
9:00am – 4:00pm
Wendall, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP
1111 Broadway, Oakland CA 94607

ARMA Madison “From Theory to Practice in an Ever-Changing Digital World”
Thursday, May 2 2013
Fluno Center
Madison, WI

We will try to keep this list updated as we find more seminars.
Not in one of these areas? Check out your local ARMA Chapter at to see what they have to offer!

RMRT to Launch Virtual Hangouts with Students

The Records Management Roundtable is launching a new service to student chapters of the Society of American Archivists this spring. Starting March 1st we plan to offer monthly video conferences where students interested in the records management and archives profession can come learn more about who we are and what we do.

The conferences will be hosted through Google Hangouts, where the first 10 users to log on can participate in the discussion via video chat, and stream live via the RMRT’s Google+ account, our YouTube Channel, and right here on our blog.

RMRT chair, Brad Houston has offered to test out a presentation that he will be giving at the 2013 Midwest Archives Conference annual meeting for our inaugural Hangout.

Please join Brad at 12 noon EST on Friday, March 1st for “Everyone’s a Mechanic: The Least You Should Know About Managing E-records.
RMRT Chair Brad Houston has, over the past few years, gradually fallen into the role of managing electronic records policies and procedures at the UWM Archives, with minimal support from institution IT. He has been teaching himself what he needs to know as he goes along, which unfortunately for him means a lot of extra work. The upside: now you get to learn from his efforts. In this Google Hangout, Brad will briefly discuss what he’s done with e-records at his institution, what he’s learned, and what he wishes he had known before he started.

If you are interested in hosting a Hangout, or have ideas for Hangout topics, please email Meg Tuomala at mtuomala [at] email [dot] unc [dot] edu. These sessions can be on the casual side, for example an open Q&A on a current issue in records management, or a more structured presentation.

Look for more announcements right here about RMRT Hangouts with Students!