In 2012, President Obama’s Managing Government Records Directive mandated that federal agencies manage both permanent and temporary records in an electronic format by 2019. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) then turned to ZL Technologies to make its email system compliant with the presidential directive.
The agency had three main goals when choosing ZL as its solution: (1) archive emails to improve end-user access; (2) establish “best practices” email management standards for other federal agencies to emulate; (3) index emails for eDiscovery and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
ZL Unified Archive® (ZL UA) was uniquely positioned to help the federal agency achieve its goals by providing archiving, records management, and eDiscovery functionality within one platform. The single platform streamlines data processing, eliminates data silos and data duplicates, and assures consistent search and retention across all organizational data.
Unified Archive and Gmail
NARA had recently switched from its Novell email platform to the Gmail platform. As the only email archiving software to have satisfied the requirements of the Department of Defense (DoD) 5015.2 Standard for the Gmail platform, ZL Technologies Unified Archive® was uniquely positioned to help the agency achieve its goals.
Aside from DoD certification, ZL UA provided two key benefits. First, it was able to capture all Google email, calendar, task, and metadata content, thus providing the 100% capture the agency was looking for. Second, it was able to execute records management policies based on easy-to-use native properties like Gmail labels, simplifying the classification process for end-users. This was a key differentiator as the agency sought an intuitive solution for end-users to sort and mark messages in one click with minimal training. NARA chose three main labels to implement by default in its Gmail environment: permanent, temporary, and non-record. The specifications of each label are described on the next page.
- The only DoD 5015.2 certified archiving solution for Gmail
- Archiving, records management, and eDiscovery functionality all within one platform
- Elimination of data silos and data duplicates
- Consistent search and retention across organizational data
- One-stop solution for all governance needs
- Seamless, reliable migration with unparalleled data integrity
The Capstone Approach - Email Management Standards for Federal Agencies
NARA developed the Capstone approach to simplify electronic management of email records for government agencies. The strategy was created for internal implementation and as a built-in template for other agencies. The goal of the Capstone approach was to scale the classification strategy to accommodate the sheer growth and ever-changing definition of electronic records while bolstering classification integrity.
The Capstone approach includes two types of users (senior officials are permanent and standard users are temporary) and three categories of records (permanent, temporary, and nonrecords). All of a user’s emails are initially auto-classified based on the type of user: either temporary or permanent. In other words, a senior user’s emails are initially automatically classified as permanent records, while a standard user’s emails are auto-classified as temporary records.
End-users have the option, however, of overriding the initial categorization and manually classifying a given email as one of the three categories of records: permanent record, temporary record, or non-record. Thus, a standard user wishing to reclassify an email as a non-record could do so by selecting the “nonrecord” label within the Gmail; similarly, a standard user wishing to reclassify an email as a permanent email could do so by selecting the “permanent record” label.
The agency tested several approaches when implementing Capstone within its organization, and while ZL UA is able to accommodate a wide range of approaches, from fully automated to fully manual records classification, the agency decided to go with a hybrid approach.
Should it choose to in the future, NARA could adopt a more granular approach. For example, they could give endusers the additional option of marking certain emails as “confidential”. In this scenario, a user would be presented with an additional label, “permanent record: confidential.” Based on the user’s selection of that label, ZL UA would then place the email into the appropriate part of the file plan.
The agency’s records management approach uses end-users as a filter in determining whether or not given emails are records. This strikes a sensible balance between the desire to limit the burden on end-users and the desire to avoid categorizing “junk” emails as records. Should NARA’s records management requirements change, however, it can always tailor ZL UA to fulfill those requirements, with as much granularity and specificity as necessary. As discussed earlier, ZL UA is able to accommodate a wide range of approaches, from fully automated to fully manual—and everything in between.
Preparing for eDiscovery and FOIA Requests
In addition to providing a full DoD 5015.2 certified records management platform, ZL UA also provides swift search, allowing for eDiscovery and FOIA requests to be completed in lightning speeds. The highpowered and granular search sifts through billions of objects providing results within seconds. Government agencies can look forward to reducing the endless backlog of FOIA requests while promoting discovery preparedness.
The agency is considering using ZL Unified Archive to archive and manage collaborative documents in Google Drive, as well as other file types. By using ZL UA, NARA will be able to utilize the same search, eDiscovery, and records management functionalities that it has implemented for emails in the Gmail environment.
The agency was able to turn to ZL for a comprehensive migration as well as a onestop solution for its eDiscovery, archiving, and records management needs. ZL UA archives the agency’s emails, making them available for search and retrieval to both legal teams and end-users with appropriate access control. As the platform is able to address the lifecycle management of both records and nonrecords alike, the ZL UA platform delivers unparalleled information governance for federal agencies.