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CHIPS Articles: Department of Navy Wins Prestigious NARA Award

Department of Navy Wins Prestigious NARA Award
Records management initiative recognized by the National Archives and Records Administration
By CHIPS Magazine - July-September 2007
The Department of the Navy (DON) was selected by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to receive one of five Archivist Achievement Awards for outstanding achievement in federal records management.

The National Archives and Records Administration serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of the federal government, ensuring that the public can discover, use and learn from this documentary heritage.

The DON was recognized specifically by NARA for its ability to provide full-range life cycle records management capabilities, up to and including disposition. The DON received the award for its DON Enterprise Records Management Solution program. ERMS is a self-sustaining program that provides secure information management and records preservation across the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) global enterprise that is 400,000 members strong.

Employing a combination of strategic governance and practical deployment tactics, the ERMS program was rapidly deployed across 30 echelon II commands in two short years. Since 2005, the DON ERMS program has educated more than 10,000 members in records management practices and captured more than 500,000 official records serving 148 distinct processes in the Navy, including legal, investigative, financial, research, operational and manufacturing disciplines.

The DON ERMS framework consists of: (1) Governance tailored to the DON records management practice; (2) A highly functional commercial records management application, called Total Records and Information Management, or TRIM, available at each user desktop; (3) A comprehensive education program providing both classroom and Web-based training tailored to various stakeholders within the DON ranging from the casual records consumer and producer up to records officers; (4) Accelerated implementation through education and on-site deployment support; (5) Uniform application of DON records policy around the world, afloat and ashore; and (6) Enterprise-wide information retrieval, administration and oversight capability.

The ERMS framework has been fielded extensively at shore-based commands within the DON, and in March 2007, the Director of Navy Records office completed the first records management pilot in the fleet aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). This pilot was conducted via the Trident Warrior 2007 series of experiments to automate core business processes (leave, transfers and separations) within administrative and personnel offices onboard the ship.

As with all prior implementations, the afloat implementation of the DON ERMS practice furthers the program's support of the Navy's operational warfighters through a framework that delivers the right information to the right person at the right time.

To sustain the records management practice within the DON, a program to support records officers is in place to ensure that the community stays engaged and organizations have access to the ever-growing body of knowledge within the enterprise. For the larger federal enterprise, the DON ERMS platform sets the stage to complete the information management life cycle by creating a working conduit to integrate with NARA's Electronic Records Archive (ERA).

Records Management Application
The DON ERMS employs a core configuration across the NMCI enterprise within TRIM. Each major organization within the DON is allocated its own TRIM repository. Each repository is pre-populated with the core configuration, including: (1) DON File Plan in accordance with the DON Standard Subject Identification Codes (SSIC) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Manual 5210.2; (2) DON Retention and Disposition in accordance with SECNAV Manual 5210.1; (3) DON Thesaurus catalog; (4) Enterprise and organizational security profiles; (5) Security policy for records; and (6) Standard record type templates.

Teaching the DON’s geographically and functionally diverse community about records management principles was an es¬sential first step to capturing vital records. Four Web-based training modules were created and deployed to Navy Knowledge Online (NKO), available at
• Entry-level Records Management
• Advanced Records Management Concepts
• Entry-level TRIM
• Advanced user TRIM

Anytime, anywhere access to these Web-based training modules has increased awareness of the DON records management practice and resulted in more than 8,000 individuals taking these courses. Through classroom and Web-based training, the DON ERMS program offers training tailored to records management novices and veterans alike.

The DON ERMS program implemented a six-week initial deployment methodology to accelerate activation of an organization’s TRIM repository. Through a combination of classroom training and on-site implementation support, subject matter experts from the SECNAV/Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) Directives Control Office (DNS- ) worked with more than 0 major organizations to train, configure and activate a custom records management scheme.

The embedded core configuration is the key to rapid deployment across disparate commands. The core configuration takes the guesswork out of developing the foundational schema, thereby eliminating redundancy and unnecessary variations. Instead, organizations focus on the specific requirements of their business and embed that unique process into the DON core configuration.

Furthermore, the common platform enables the reuse of processes across the enterprise. For example, many commands administer Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. While the content varies, the process is similar. The DON has developed a model for FOIA records processing that is used by several commands. This approach has saved countless hours typically spent reinventing the wheel.

For the enterprise, ERMS not only grants real-time access to records repositories across the globe, but it institutes the means to apply uniform records classification schemes across a hugely diverse enterprise while allowing individual organizations to apply terms unique to their domain. Figure 1 illustrates many of the common processes across commands that benefit from an enterprise approach to standardize processes and manage records.

The DON ERMS program provides post-deployment support to sustain and grow each organization’s records management practice. Major activities include:
• A monthly records manager conference call that provides the latest updates to Navy records management policies;
• A monthly newsletter that highlights the latest accomplishments across the DON;
• An annual Records Manager Conference that provides a forum to update the community on the latest developments and policy as well as an informal outlet to bolster dialogue within the community;
• The DON Records Management Web Portal, which offers an online repository of tips, FAQs and policy references;
• A help desk that provides one-on-one support to enterprise records managers.

What ERMS Really Means to the DON
The deployment of TRIM across the enterprise now provides the DON with the ability to administer records policy and retrieve information quicker than ever before. For instance, record holds can be immediately applied across all repositories. Each unique repository within the ERMS solution has a stakeholder that is accountable and reachable to the Director of Records office. The Navy has not had this level of oversight in decades.

ERMS allows the Department to quickly respond to Congressional inquiries on the Navy response to natural disasters. The ability to search and retrieve records quickly and efficiently in an emergency or on demand can be best demonstrated by DON ERMS Case Study No. 1, Hurricane Katrina Records Recovery.

In this study, the White House and the Department of the Defense directed the DON to provide all records relating to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, its aftermath and the follow-on response within a short period of time. TRIM served as a successful rapid response mechanism through which 2,900 Hurricane Katrina records were retrieved and safeguarded.

A business case study, DON ERMS Case Study No. 2, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Records, illustrated the benefits of organizing and managing records for ongoing analysis. There have been three rounds of BRAC. The ability to provide a historical reference for any future BRAC committees with information about how past committees were organized, findings and decision points can save time and ensure a more efficient process.

More than 10,000 BRAC program office records are now available in TRIM. Most were entered via a high speed scanning operation using multifunction devices. The Navy is currently the only military service to have a digitized reference library of the records from the three most recent BRAC rounds in 1993, 1995 and 2005.

Looking Ahead
The future of the Department’s Records Program looks very bright indeed, according to Charley Barth, Director of Navy Records.

“Our next steps are to deploy the DON ERMS solution to the fleet and other major networks like IT-21 and ONE-NET. We are currently working with EDS on a bulk scanning solution plus the ability to conduct our electronic records management business via the Web. We are also in discussions to provide digital signature capability as well as Web services so other record generating systems can seamlessly integrate with TRIM. This will allow these critical applications to meet federal and DoD mandates for electronic records management,” he said.

With so much accomplished, it would be easy to slow the break-neck pace of the ERMS program. Not likely! The future of the Department’s ERMS program holds many things but a break is not one of them! While DON records programs move forward in the continental United States with the latest evolution offered on the classified networks, it is time to extend this service to the rest of the Navy, said Barth.

“It is vital to offer this enhanced operational capability to our warfighters in the fleet and abroad. By leveraging the lessons learned, we can offer new automation and information management tools to reduce the burden on the Sailor while ensuring that vital records are preserved for use now and in the future. In addition, we are working with EDS to offer other much-anticipated capabilities, such as network storage solutions and secure Web-based access to the records repositories from the Internet.”

When asked if there were other projects in the queue, Barth replied, “We are developing plans to offer electronic signature capability as well. We can recover so much time by eliminating the need to manually shepherd paper forms around for signature.

“In addition, we are looking at ways to leverage technology to enable federated searches among the dispersed records generating systems across the DON’s electronic systems landscape. By taking stock of the information that is available to the enterprise, we can expand access as needed and ensure that the systems operate in compliance with federal and DoD mandates for records generating systems.”

The NARA Archivist Awards are presented annually, recognizing outstanding federal records management programs and activities that can be used as models for other organizations. This year’s award was presented at the 19th Annual Records Administration Conference (RACO 2007) in Washington, D.C.

John LaRaia, then Assistant for Administration, Office of the Under Secretary of the Navy, joins Charley Barth, Director of Navy Records, and Matt Staden, Navy Records Manager, along with industry partners at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) ceremony to celebrate the Department’s win of the 2007 Archivist’s Achievement Award. From left: Carol Pratt, Matt Staden, Maryam Azimi, Patrick Johnson, Charley Barth, Jan Rosi, John LaRaia, Chuck Lesko, Pat Radoll, Shawn Byrne and Joe Stephens.
Figure 1. Common processes across commands.
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