January 20, 2022

GAO Report: NARA Needs to “Ensure Facilities That Store Federal Records Meet Standards”

From the Government Accountability Office:

Agencies are to store federal records in three types of facilities:

  • Federal records centers: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) operates 18 federal records centers that are comprised of 24 facilities (buildings) located across the United States. Each facility includes storage areas, referred to as bays.
  • Agency records centers: Agencies also establish and operate records centers for storing their own records. As of May 2013, NARA had identified 18 agency records centers that were operated by 6 agencies or offices.
  • Commercial records storage facilities: Agencies also use private sector commercial facilities. As of May 2013, agencies reported that 12 vendors provided 22 facilities, which were used by 11 agencies.

These facilities notwithstanding, NARA does not know where all agencies are storing records. NARA has solicited data from agencies about their use of agency records centers and commercial records storage facilities, but not all agencies have submitted data. Further, the data agencies submitted–mostly from 2008 and 2009–are now outdated. As a result, NARA cannot be assured that all agencies are using one of the three types of authorized facilities.

NARA determined that 20 of its 24 federal records center facilities were fully compliant with 36 C.F.R. Part 1234 because all of their bays satisfied the regulation; of the remaining 4, 2 facilities with inadequate shelving were partially compliant, 1 facility with insufficient protections against pipe leaks was not compliant, and the remaining facility was to be replaced. As of July 2013, NARA had plans to bring these 4 facilities into full compliance, but did not have a schedule for completing the plans at 2 of the facilities. As a result, NARA does not have a basis for determining progress toward correcting deficiencies in those facilities that do not yet fully meet the standards. Also, while NARA had approved 10 agency records centers and 22 commercial records storage facilities, it has inspected 1 of 18 agency records centers and 13 commercial records storage facilities. Until NARA completes planned inspections of all remaining facilities, it cannot be reasonably assured that agencies are storing records in facilities that meet standards.

Read the Complete Highlights Document

GAO Report: National Archives and Records Administration: Actions Needed to Ensure Facilities That Store Fe…

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.