How the Gulf War Paved the Way for DoD Records Management Standard

Understanding the role of the Gulf war in paving the way for the DoD records management standards


Sarin, a chemical weapon used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, caused the infamous Gulf War Syndrome or sickness in 250,000 American soldiers. According to the findings, the illness was brought on by exposure to the chemical during U.S. strikes on Iraqi manufacturing and chemical weapons storage facilities. The condition gave military veterans long-lasting fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, cognitive issues, skin rashes, and diarrhea, among other symptoms.

To ensure "sick Gulf War veterans were being diagnosed accurately, treated effectively and compensated fairly for service-connected disabilities," Congress and the Committee on Government requested records for investigation on the war. The committee asked the Department of Defense (DoD) for millions of documents, but many were lost or missing important information. Discontent with the DoD's response, Congress urged it to enhance its records management procedures.

Introduction to the DoD Records Management Standard

Congress's discontent and the DoD's commitment to improving its records management paved the way for the DoD records management standards.

Soon, the National Archive and Records Administration (NARA) and the U.S. military collaborated to create the Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications (DoD 5015.02). The DoD also included provisions for switching from paper to paperless records in its framework during this transition.

The move was a significant turning point in the history of military record administration. It was designed for the government to have a centralized system for field record management. It also made it easier for veterans to obtain medals for war-related disabilities and receive medical benefits using a centralized electronic records management system.

Today, the DoD maintains three levels of record management standards: Baseline, Classified, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The levels serve as a means of evaluating a software provider's proficiency in light of the strict DoD guidelines and specifications.

The Baseline Standards

The Baseline standard, which outlines the baseline requirements that an ERM program must provide for use within DoD, was issued by the Department of Defense in November 1997.

The standard was created to assist government organizations and businesses in selecting a set of system controls appropriate for security and privacy risk control. The baseline standards are a collection of controls assembled to satisfy the security demands of a community, organization, or interest group. It describes the design specifications needed to securely identify, mark, retain, and dispose of electronic records. However, it does not specify how the product will deliver these features.

It is especially appropriate for commercial solutions openings (CSOs) where the loss of sensitive data might negatively impact the operations, resources, or staff of such an agency.

Learn more about ZL's Classified Records Management Offering.

Why DoD Records Management

Even though 5015.02 mandates that DoD adheres to ERM application requirements, it is now the recommended standard for the rest of the federal government. The second edition of the 5015.02 standard and DoD-certified software should be used as a starting point when choosing an ERM application, according to NARA Bulletin 2003-03, published in January 2003 as part of the ERM Initiative.

Read Nara Case Study to see how the National Archives uses our technology.

Read DoD 5015.02 Classified Explained for more information on DoD Classified Records Management.

Aryan Shaw is a graduate from St. Stephen's College (University of Delhi). Since childhood, he has had a fascination in mastering the art of putting things into eloquent words. His interest has landed him in ZL Tech's Marketing department.