The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is in talks with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about an extension of the December 2022 deadline for government agencies to transition fully to electronic records as directed by the M-19-21 directive issued by NARA in 2019.

Speaking today at the 930GOV conference organized by the Digital Government Institute, NARA Chief Records Officer Laurence Brewer gave no definitive word on a possible extension of the December deadline but did indicate that an extension is being discussed.

Two deadlines are in play for Dec. 31, requiring Federal agencies to manage all temporary records in an electronic format and to manage all permanent records in an electronic format with appropriate metadata.

Brewer reiterated that NARA cannot take action on its own to change the deadlines of the M-19-21 directive, but said the agency has been having discussions with OMB about “what makes sense” for the targeted deadlines, and whether an extension of the deadline is justified.

The coronavirus pandemic, he reiterated, has impacted agencies’ ability to digitize records, and “has slowed things down” in reaching the December deadline.

In the absence of any word on an extension, “we tell agencies to keep doing what you are doing” to make progress on the directive, Brewer said. “We want to see agencies get to a higher level of maturity” under the directive, he said, adding, “it’s not the end of the world” if the December deadline is changed.  

“We are going to keep managing electronic records … and get to the point where we are fully electronic,” he said.

“We will keep working on what we need to do” regarding deadlines, Brewer said, while advising agencies to “keep doing what you are doing” to make progress toward the directive’s goals.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.