Date: September 24, 2014
House Passes H.R. 5170,
the Federal Records Accountability Act of 2014
On September 16, 2014, the House passed H.R. 5170, the Federal Records Accountability Act of 2014, by voice vote. The bill is intended to improve Federal employee compliance with Federal records policies. The bill now awaits Senate action.
Following are provisions of interest to SSA:
- Would create a process for suspending and removing a Federal employee whom the Inspector General of a Federal agency determines willfully and unlawfully destroys, conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or falsifies a record.
- Would require Federal employees or officers who create or send an electronic message related to official business from their non-work electronic messaging account to:
- Include their Federal work electronic messaging account as a recipient in the original message and identify all recipients in that message; and
- Forward the electronic message to their Federal work electronic messaging account or print a complete copy of the message and submit it to their agency for appropriate storage. Action should be completed within 15 days after the original creation or transmission of the message.
- Would define: 1) electronic messages as email and all other means by which individuals and groups communicate with each other electronically; and 2) electronic messaging account as any account that sends an electronic message.
- Would require no later than November 15, 2014, that the head of each Federal agency designate a Senior Agency Official for Records Compliance to ensure compliance with records management statutes, regulations, and guidance. The position would be at the level of an Assistant Secretary or the equivalent.
- Would require no later than 18 months after date of enactment, the Archivist shall promulgate regulations governing Federal agencies to capture, manage, and preserve electronic messages that are determined to be records. The Archivist would include timelines with the regulations on electronic messages that ensure compliance no later than two years after the date of enactment. To the extent practicable, the regulations would also include requirements for the capture, management and storage of other electronic records (e.g., files).1
- Would require agencies to submit a report no later than three years after date of enactment to the Archivist on compliance with the regulations issued.
- Would require agencies, effective December 31, 2016, as part of their records management program, to:
- Identify electronic message accounts of high-level officials for preservation and automatically retain certain records in those accounts because they likely contain information that should be preserved as permanent Federal records; and
- Electronically capture, manage, and preserve the electronic messaging accounts of high-level officials in accordance with statutory records disposal requirements.2
- Would authorize agency Inspectors General to review existing and proposed legislation and regulations relative to records retention requirements for agency records programs and make recommendations in semiannual reports to Congress concerning records retention requirements. Would be effective December 31, 2016.
- Unless otherwise specified, provisions of this legislation would be effective upon enactment.
1 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) 2012 Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M-12-18) directs all agencies to manage all email records electronically by December 31, 2016 and all permanent electronic records electronically by December, 31, 2019. NARA has issued guidance on managing email and email accounts.
2 NARA has issued guidance on managing email records (Bulletin 2013-02) under an approach as described in the referenced provision, in which an agency can categorize and schedule email based on the work and/or position of the email account owner.