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Abstract

The proliferation of electronic records is causing governments, corporations and organizations around the globe to reassess the way they keep and manage their records. There's no more prominent example of this than our own country's National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and its draft "Proposal for a Redesign of Federal Records Management," issued in July 2002. This proposal was preceded by the "Report on Current Recordkeeping Practices within the Federal Government," produced jointly by NARA and a private contractor in December 2001, and the General Accounting Office's (GAO) report to Congress entitled "Information Management: Challenges in Managing and Preserving Electronic Records," issued in June 2002. In his "State of the Archives" address of December 3, 2002, Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin described the situation thusly: "To put it simply, our current records management program was developed in the 20th century in a paper environment and has not kept up with a government that now creates and uses most of its records electronically. With our current way of doing business, we just don't have the resources to cope with the growing volumes of both electronic and paper records. It is clear that today's Federal records environment requires different management strategies and techniques."

NARA is not alone in wrestling with these issues. Its records management system is emulated by many states, including Mississippi, and the need for reexamination of existing policies and procedures is shared by those states. While NARA admittedly operates on a much larger scale, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) is no stranger to finding ways to meet its obligations and carry out its duties on a tight budget with a small staff. The MDAH Records Management Division and Archives and Library Division alike are short on staff and resources but long on responsibility and duties.

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