When is an agency e-mail message an official federal record that must be preserved? That is the question puzzling records managers as e-mail volume among and within agencies continues to grow exponentially.
Michael Kurtz, assistant archivist at the National Archives and Records Administration, said 95 percent of all agency e-mail messages are considered federal records, but only a small percentage need to be kept.
"Most e-mail is transitory in nature for setting up meetings or going to lunch," Kurtz said today at a meeting of the Federal Information and Records Managers' Council at the FOSE 2005 trade show in Washington. "This is an area of some contention or concern because of the public interest groups that want to save the records. We will work through it. Most e-mail should disposed of quickly and not entered into the file system."
Kurtz said NARA issued a draft policy in November to help agencies quickly dispose of e-mail records except for a small number that employees will continue to print and file until NARA finishes developing the Electronic Records Archive.
The Federal government is leading the way in managing email archives.