The Department of Justice's records office lead is emphasizing the unit's approach to business processes in its technical endeavor to complete its transition to electronic recordkeeping along with all over federal agencies in 2022.
“In terms of business foundations, I think we fail or misstep when we only look at acquiring tools and putting tools in place. The business foundations support our business readiness to use these tools,” said Jeanette Plante, director of the agency's Office of Records Management Policy, e-Discovery, and FOIA, at an FCW event last week.
The agency is looking to create and retain a specialized workforce with the skillsets needed to support both the mission and business foundations, with Plante noting that the business unit is equally as important as the technology.
“The kinds of technical tools that we need, and for which we require a good integrated, working relationship with the information technology side of the house, are the automated tools that help us manage a program,” Plante said. “We need data maps, we need tracking tools, we need relational databases.”
As such, the agency is looking to integrate technical tools not only supporting content, but also program management.
One way DOJ is doing this is by modernizing its Justice Records Control Schedule, a database that holds all of the agency's records schedules and provides access to streamlined mechanisms for creating inventory. The platform also allows components to build file plans and taxonomies.
“We need de-duplication applications and electronic-finding aids,” Plante said. “We need to move to electronic information — but those are business actions. The tools serve the business function, and they’re not actually records management applications.”
DOJ is also looking to implement more tools for e-discovery search, storage and access.
“I have IT staff that are essentially on detail, but actually work for the CIO. We have, through a memorandum of understanding, defined and organized how we manage the discovery piece of this jointly because there are so many factors that require sophisticated IT knowledge and so many that require sophisticated business knowledge,” Plante said.
The agency is building out an ecosystem for records and information management to better manage repositories, processes and stakeholders. It currently has a model of the various layers of connections between people, repositories and communications, and plans to use it to identify where it needs additional policies and standard operating procedures.
“We expect to use this ecosystem model as a business tool to help us define better with whom we should be working, what input we need to be providing to those partners in trying to manage the records and information management,” Plante said, adding that there will be continued collaboration between the IT teams and business units for future new systems or tools.
Plante has also proposed a unified agency information management strategy to identify shared objectives. Such a plan would provide better understand of limitations and value in all records and information management efforts.