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NARA Compliance Deadline Approaches: What You Need to Know About Your Records Management Solution

As of December 2022, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will no longer accept paper records. To fulfill the mission of increasing transparency and access to the American people, the archive is switching to all-digital records and adopting methods to recognize non-print and other forms of digital media. 

If your agency is working through its discovery phase, you still have time to update your archival methods. But you need to work with a service that is equipped to transfer and convert your existing documents to a searchable, secure, and scalable system. 

Concerns, Delays, COVID: Challenges in Preparing for NARA Transition

If you’ve experienced delays in digitizing your paper records and workflows, you’re hardly alone. COVID mandated a sudden and unexpected transition to remote work. With challenges in rerouting processes, as well as filling empty positions during a workforce hiring crunch, keeping up with normal day-to-day job functions became a significant hurdle.

Withoffices filling back up and remote work or hybrid work normalizing, we’ve found that many agencies are still facing a significant backlog. That backlog often takes priority over upgrading paper-heavy archival and record storage systems, putting the NARA transition on the back burner. 

NARA and Archival Certifications 

What are the most important milestones to achieve in your transition? 

There are six sections of NARA’s Universal ERM Requirements:

  1. Capture
  2. Maintenance and Use
  3. Disposal
  4. Transfer
  5. Metadata
  6. Reporting

For example, QFlow’s records management protocols ensure your processes can be certified for meeting critical NARA requirements.  

Preparing for your transition to NARA compliance is a massive undertaking, but it is also a huge opportunity to improve security, workflows, automation, and the experience of both stakeholders and staff. 

Documentation & Training

Organizations often have to overhaul business processes and workflows as a result of complying with all-digital mandates. As you transition to that new system, and to remain compliant with the standards set forth in M-19-21, ensure that you:

  • Engage with HR and stakeholders to update the correct materials
  • Develop an internal communication plan for sharing new protocols with all of your teams
  • Have access to a structured training program for both current and future employees 
  • Document your entire record-handling program and make that documentation accessible 

Security and Encryption 

While hacking is a common concern (and rightly so), protecting your data and records from simple human error is equally important. 

Agencies (including all federal, as well as some state and local) and departments that manage and store personally identifiable information (PII) must use Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) certified cryptographic modules. Those standards are defined under the umbrellas of both the Federal Information Processing Standard Publication 140-2 (FIPS 140-2) and the 2014 Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). 

By working with a document platform partner that is a FedRAMP-authorized provider, your records system will be automatically compliant. You may also need a partner that provides defined security levels further required for compliance: high, moderate, low, or low-impact SaaS.

Last, permission sets that block unauthorized internal users safeguard your most sensitive documentation and data. Assigning permissions levels automatically cuts down further on user-level errors that may compromise records, even if it’s unintentional.

Automated Workflows 

While not necessarily critical for fulfilling NARA compliance obligations, automating and streamlining workflows greatly improves work quality, accuracy, and other compliance mandates (like HIPAA and so forth) while reducing mundane tasks and opportunities for errors. 

Automated records disposal schedules offer better compliance than relying on manual intervention. Working with an experienced partner further ensures that you don’t risk any oversight issues. 

QFlow Systems & the Q-Action Platform: Accelerating Digital Adoption and Automating Workflows

We’ve been helping agencies and enterprise organizations automate and digitize workflows. Our team has the experience and knowledge base you need to achieve NARA compliance.  

Need info on the updated NARA guidelines? Click here to download our latest white paper- NARA 2022 Deadline Compliance: Your Guide to Digitization.