Skip to main content
Models for Action: Developing Practical Approaches to Electronic Records Management and Preservation


Publications & Results


Press Releases & News Stories


Funding Sources

Scope of Work

Contact Information

Scope of Work
The project was an attempt to develop a practical way to incorporate essential electronic records requirements into the design of new information systems. Funded in large part by a research grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the project was conducted from 1996 to 1998 through a partnership between the New York State Archives and Records Administration and the Center for Technology in Government. The project team included staff of the NYS Adirondack Park Agency, eight corporate partners led by Intergraph Corporation, and University at Albany faculty and graduate students.

Traditional system design methodologies do not give adequate attention to the creation, integration, management, and preservation of electronic records. The following records management issues demonstrate this problem:
  • Agencies have tended to focus on "data" needed for immediate business, but often pay little attention to their need to create and manage useful "records," until after a system is implemented.
  • Agencies lack adequate tools to manage the electronic records that are created by their systems.
  • Agencies are finding that some of the electronic records that do exist do not meet their organization's evidentiary needs.
  • Agencies are in danger of losing electronic records stored in personal computers, e-mail boxes, or personal local area network (LAN) directories.
  • Agencies face the problem of linking documents created in different forms and formats to business transaction requirements.
  • Technological solutions and tools to assist government agencies are not sufficient.
  • Supportive but essential records management processes are not adequately automated or integrated into systems, resulting in inefficiencies and added costs.
This project integrates practical and theoretical work in electronic records management with network-based system development methodologies and business process improvement practices. The goal of the project is to develop practical tools that include an expanded business process improvement component that includes steps to directly address electronic records management requirements in systems development efforts. The tools will guide the identification of technology, policy, and management factors to ensure that records are created, maintained, and stored in a manner that facilitates access for agency operations, secondary uses, evidentiary needs, and archival purposes.

The tool will be generalizable to public and private sector organizations seeking to improve records management in network-based information systems.

Many organizations are seeking to improve or streamline their business processes through business process reengineering or business process improvement programs. Rather than automating existing inefficient or unnecessary processes, organizations are identifying opportunities to recreate or reinvent their business processes. In some cases, organizations have found that substantial gains can be realized from business process improvement without the implementation of new technologies. Since many agency processes or procedures have been developed piecemeal over time, many activities or sequences of activities add no value to the overall transaction. Identifying these activities and eliminating or modifying them can lead to decreases in customer turnaround time, increased agency productivity, and reduced transaction costs as well as overall improvements in the quality of customer service. In order to improve business processes and simultaneously ensure that an organization's records management needs are addressed, the definition of 'processes' must be broadened to include those processes or activities that ensure records management and archival requirements will be met. Of course, not all of these activities can be supported by use of technology. Policies must be developed and management strategies must be devised and implemented to ensure that these requirements are appropriately and continuously addressed.

Based upon this investigation, the project will develop a system design model that incorporates the management of electronic records into the functionality of an automated system. The model will be tested, evaluated, and modified in the context of a sample public sector application: the permit issuance process of the NYS Adirondack Park Agency.

Our project approach therefore includes the following activities:
  1. Develop and evaluate generic system-level functional requirements for electronic recordkeeping
  2. Review current system development methods in networked computing environments
  3. Review business process improvement and business process reengineering methodologies
  4. Develop a framework or set of questions to elicit a complementary suite of technology, management and policy mechanisms to support records management to be used as part of the BPI/BPR process
  5. Develop a prototype networked application at the Adirondack Park Agency
  6. Evaluate the effectiveness of the prototype in meeting APA business objectives, including records management requirements
  7. Produce a generalizable method for use in other organizations.
This two-year project is funded in part by a $140,000 grant (No. 96-023) from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the funding arm of the National Archives.

Project Deliverables

  • Research reports on three areas of best practices: business process analysis, system design and development, and records management and archiving.
  • A generalizable model for system design and development which includes process analysis and electronic records management and archival requirements.
  • A prototype application developed using the new model.
  • Working papers, professional papers, interim and final reports, public demonstrations.