May 29, 2022

President Signs New Law Modernizing Definition ​of Federal Records To Include Electronic Records

From the National Archives and Records Administration:

On November 26th, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1233, the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014.  ​This​ new law modernizes records management by focusing more directly on electronic records, and complements efforts by the National Archives and the Office of Management and Budget to implement the President’s 2011 Memorandum on Managing Government Records.

Major updates to the Presidential and Federal Records Acts include:

  • Strengthening the Federal Records Act by expanding the definition of Federal records to clearly include electronic records. This is the first change to the definition of a Federal record since the enactment of the act in 1950.
  • Confirming that Federal electronic records will be transferred to the National Archives in electronic form.
  • Granting the Archivist of the United States final determination as to what constitutes a federal record.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero praised the passage of HR 1233:

“We welcome this bipartisan effort to update the nation’s records laws for the 21st Century. H.R. 1233 could not have become law without the efforts of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Chairman Issa (R-CA), and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Coburn (R-OK), in shining a spotlight on the challenges that so many federal agencies and presidential administrations have faced in managing their electronic records.”


The Federal Records Act of 1950, as amended, establishes the framework for records management programs in Federal Agencies. As the primary agency for records management oversight, the National Archives and Records Administration is responsible for assisting Federal agencies in maintaining adequate and proper documentation of policies and transactions of the Federal Government. This is done by appraising records, regulating and approving the disposition of Federal records, operating Federal Records Centers and preserving permanent records.

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 governs the official records of Presidents and Vice Presidents created or received for all Presidents who come into office after January 20, 1981. This Act changed the legal ownership of the official records of the President from private to public, and established a new statutory structure under which Presidents must manage the records while in office, and the records automatically transfer into the legal custody of the National Archives when the President leaves office.

Read H.R. 1233 (via

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.