Directive M-19-21: What it is and how to Achieve Compliance


federal-governmentThe National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and  Office of Management and Budget (OMB) set forth M-19-21 as a directive to progress the way that government records are managed. Read on to learn what this directive is, who it includes and the factors necessary for compliance.

What is M-19-21?

M-19-21 is a new directive issued by NARA on June 28, 2019. A consolidation of the previous M-12-18 directive with some additional requirements, the purpose of this directive is to help the government transition fully to electronic records for increased efficiency, accuracy, and improved storage.

While the full mandate can be accessed here, some key points of M-19-21 are:

  • ALL Federal Records (both permanent and temporary records) must be created, managed, and maintained in electronic format by 2022.
  • Agencies need to close their own facilities and transfer any paper records to a Federal Records Center or a Commercial Storage Facility by 2022.
  • Agencies must designate a Senior Agency Official for Records Management and Agency Records Officer.
  • Agencies must maintain compliance with their records management including personnel training, scheduling records, workflow scheduling, etc.

Who does this impact?

NARA and the OMB set forth M-19-21 as a set of record management requirements for Federal Agencies.
Therefore, NARA’s M-19-21 is a government-wide initiative and applies to all federal agencies.

When is the deadline?

The deadline for digitally managing all permanent records has already passed – meaning many agencies have already fallen behind. However, this initiative is designed to transition agencies into managing government records, whether temporary or permanent, entirely within an electronic environment by 2022. 

7 Critical Factors for M-19-21 Compliance

  1. A  digitization strategy to convert permanent records created in hard copy or other analog formats to digital format.
  2. Automated systems for capturing, assigning necessary metadata and classifying electronic information as it is created or enters the organization.
  3. Ability to ensure the reliability, authenticity, integrity, usability and preservation of electronic records throughout its lifecycle.
  4. Integrated management of electronic records regardless of storage location (both on-prem and cloud).
  5. Quick response and clear accountability for FOIA requests.
  6. Regular records management program audits, evaluations and frequent updating and validation of vital records inventory.
  7. Documented and approved policies and systems for eventual transfer of all electronic records to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Are you ready?

The proper systems and support are necessary to make the great leap from physical to fully electronic. Need support? Download our government information package to learn how using a tool such as Collabspace can make the transition smooth and provide  auto-categorization, automated content lifecycle workflows and advanced discovery for FOI requests to  ensure your agency remains M-19-21 compliant. Or, contact us with any questions!


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Curious to learn more about maximizing your agency's records management? We've got articles about implementing the Capstone Approach, or webinars of speeding up your FOIA processing time.


Tagged: Compliance, Records Management

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