Access Board Wants an Appropriately Accessible Records Management System

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The independent agency in charge of enforcing accessibility wants to make sure its new electronic records system works for everyone.

The federal agency created to ensure Americans with disabilities have full access to federally-funded facilities is preparing to move to a new electronic records management system and wants to make sure that system complies with its own accessibility standards.

The Access Board—made up of 25 members from federal agencies and the public—is an independent agency that develops and disseminates guidelines and design principles that promote accessibility. The board is also charged with ensuring all federal facilities meet those standards.

Like all federal agencies, the board generates records—emails, memos, notes, documents—many of which must be preserved and archived. The National Archives and Records Administration currently accepts physical and digital records for archiving but will soon require all records to be submitted electronically.

The board already manages most of its records electronically. But the current contract to manage the board’s digital records is expiring, and the agency is looking for a new contractor to take over, including developing and managing the transition to a new system.

“The Access Board currently owns, operates, and maintains a hybrid general support system with 31 desktop computers with Windows operating system, standard Microsoft Office packages including MS-Word, MS-Excel, MS-Outlook, and Internet Explorer,” according to a request for information posted to SAM.gov. “The Access Board’s hybrid general support system maintains most of its information in a cloud-based Office 365 environment,” including SharePoint and a server hosted through the General Services Administration 18F’s Federalist platform.

The new system—to be built within SharePoint in Office 365—will include a Records Center web portal, which will “serve as the central repository and disposition for all records,” the documents state.

As members and staff generate records, the system should be designed to automatically categorize new records “based on the Access Board’s metadata baseline.” The system should also be able to automatically pull all email correspondences, tagged with the appropriate metadata and sorted for permanent or temporary retention, or to be deleted immediately.

The categorization schema needs to be flexible, officials said, as they expect “new requirements will emerge to accommodate additional data configurations, metadata elements, management and oversight reports.”

“Records Management is a non-static arena, and these products and tools must be refined, updated, and maintained to retain their optimum effectiveness and to continue to support development of the Records Management Program,” according to the statement of work.

Per the Access Board’s primary mission, the statement of work highlights the need to ensure the portal is fully accessible and meets the standards under the board’s Section 508 accessibility guidelines.

The contract will also help the board meeting an upcoming Office of Management and Budget deadline to fully digitize all records sent to NARA.

For paper or other non-natively digital records, the contractor will be expected to package and transfer the physical records to their facility for digitization. That process will include reviewing each record to determine whether it needs to be preserved, then submitting that determination to the Access Board for approval before taking further action.

Records that need to be saved will then be digitized, tagged with metadata, uploaded to the new records management system, transferred to NARA, then destroyed once NARA approves the transfer request.

The Access Board is looking for a qualified vendor with at least eight years of records management experience.

The first year of the contract will focus on both records management and digitization of physical records. The contract will likely include two one-year add-on options focused solely on maintaining the new records management system.

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