DOD aims to leverage AI and automation in records management

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The Defense Department wants to harness the powers of emerging technology to reduce user burden and enhance enterprisewide records management processes, according to a plan the agency released this week.

The Department of Defense (DOD) is aiming to leverage automation, artificial intelligence and cloud-based services as part of an enterprise-wide effort to reduce the administrative burden associated with records management. 

DOD released its new records strategy this week, a 34-page document that outlines a set of best practices to manage records across its entire enterprise, including automated processes and clear governance accountability. 

DOD Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said in a statement accompanying the strategy that it was designed to help create an environment across the department where records are "automatically identified and captured, expertly curated and systemically governed."

The strategy calls for DOD to automate records processes for all users, noting how automated records management can streamline and further integrate records into daily operations, and says automation should be fully integrated "into the design, development, enhancement and implementation of electronic information systems." 

The strategy also recommends leveraging emerging technologies and cloud-based shared services to minimize user burden, and adds that the "application of AI and machine learning techniques may improve curation processes as well."

Previous reports have identified challenges associated with the Defense Department’s records management practices, including an inspection conducted by the National Archives for fiscal years 2017 through 2021 that said key areas of the enterprise had not fully integrated adequate records management oversight. 

The inspection also found that DOD records management offices lacked sufficient resources to manage such large programs across the department's U.S.-based and overseas operations. 

The strategy outlines four key enablers to meet its curation, automation and governance goals:  the implementation and strategic use of a DOD records schedule to support interoperability with a "machine-readable roadmap" of its digital assets; updating metadata practices to make records findable and trustworthy; providing guidance for electronic records management and developing a records management workforce with the necessary skill sets to meet the goals outlined in the strategy. 

The Defense Department chief information officer is required under the strategy to provide an initial update in 45 days on progress towards revising records policies and achieving its curation, automation and governance objectives.