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DoD 5015.2-STD - What's the Big Deal?

I am amazed about how often I hear records and information management professionals form the private and commercial proclaim that a Department of Defense (DoD) standard must not apply to them. Don't they recognize how big a deal it really is? Well, this article will hopefully open your eyes and garner your appreciation of the work that went into the development of the standard and its impact on the records management community world-wide.

In the beginning....

The need for electronic records management policy became apparent in the early 1990s following Congress' high-profile investigation into the Gulf War Syndrome, a debilitating illness affecting many soldiers who fought in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Numerous investigations into the cause of the illness required DoD officials to produce millions of records from Operation Desert Storm. Congress concluded that the Defense Department did not do a good job of managing the records and as a result many of the needed records had been destroyed or lost. Congress then ordered the Defense Department to improve its records management capabilities.

The Defense Department created a task force to begin the work of re-engineering its internal records management processes in 1993. The task force included representatives from the Air Force, Army, the Army Research Laboratory, and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Air Force was the lead agency and under the direction of LTC Mark Kindl (Army), Captain Daryll Prescott (Air Force), and Ken Thibodeau (NARA). The task force published the "Functional Baseline Requirements and Data Elements for Records Management Application Software" in 1995. The report is the cornerstone for specifying functional requirements and data elements for an electronic records management application (RMA).

The report was furthered developed into a testable and measurable design criteria standard by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Among other things, DISA is responsible for the acquisition and management of shared office automation systems. This task was assigned to DISA's test and evaluation component, the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC). Two years later, at the JITC, two test engineers, Mr. Steve Matsurra and Mr. Bill Manago, clarified the report's requirements, added testable criteria, and published "DoD 5015.2-STD, Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications".

DoD 5015.2-STD established design criteria for automated systems used to manage information as records, incorporate records management requirements into Automated Information Systems development and redesign, and developed standard DoD system requirements for voice and e-mail records.

Pivotal Point in Records Management....

As we look back over history, we can see pivot points that changed our lives, such as the discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, and the harness of electrical power. In the world of records management, the DoD 5015.2-STD is such a defining pivot point.

Prior to DoD 5015.2-STD, records management responsibility was in the hands of a few relatively low-level employees charged with the responsibility of managing, tracking, and destroying paper records. Those employees operated from central and departmental file rooms. DoD 5015.2-STD marked the beginning of the transition from paper-based systems to electronic-based systems to manage records. DoD 5015.2-STD made it possible to transfer records management responsibility from the file room to the front office, from the hands of a few, to the hands of virtually all employees.

This transition did not just occur within DoD agencies. It quickly spread to other federal agencies and became a defacto standard used by the private and commercial sectors world-wide. That means you! Soon after, the United Kingdom published its version of the DoD Standard, the Public Record Office (PRO) Standard and the European Union published its Model Requirements (MoReq).

Evolutionary and Well as Revolutionary Change....

Before DoD 5015.2-STD:

• documents born electronically had to be printed to be managed as records.
• electronic messages could not be stored in their native formats nor could their integrity be authenticated.
• few if any commercial software packages supported all the functions needed to management electronic records.
• only trained records managers declared and classified records.
• records management systems were limited to the tracking of paper.
• records management systems were unrelated to the organizations information and technology structure.
• the management of voice mail, web records, and instant messaging as records were unheard of.


After DoD 5015.2-STD:

• electronic recordkeeping systems became a part of the organization's information technology infrastructure.
• the management of electronic records became integral in the design and development of business software applications and systems.
• the person most qualified to determine the business purpose and use of records became responsible for the declaration and classification of records.


Well Positioned to Adjust to Changes In Technology and Requirements....

The DoD 5015.2-STD is constantly under revision to keep up with new changes in technology and requirements as well as to broaden its scope to incorporate Privacy and Freedom of Information Act requirements and the use of electronic signatures. Today's technologies provide the capability to produce records anywhere, anytime, and to store them everywhere.

Recent changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have impacted companies across the board (private, public, and commercial) as they realize the need to implement records management to address new electronic discovery requirements. And those requirements are not limited to just your official records, but all electronically stored information.

DoD 5015.2-STD is a Big Deal....

DoD 5015.2-STD really is a big deal. It revolutionized the way we manage records. It transformed records management from the paper world to the digital world. It took records out of the basement and put them on every desktop. It elevated records management to the board room.

Daryll Prescott, Mark Kindl, Ken Thibadeau, Bill Manago and others were the thought leaders in the 1990s. They lead the revolution. Now it is time for another revolution. Now we have to remove records management from the desktop and from the hands of untrained employees. The act of capturing records can no longer be dependant upon human actions. The volume is just too great. Now we must totally automate record capture and metadata. Now we must promote and automate classification techniques.

Thought leaders, such as those that developed DoD 5015.2-STD, will lead the way. That will be another big deal. That, too, will be amazing!