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President Obama Signs Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments

National Archives statue, “The Future,” by Robert Aitken, image © David King

On November 26, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014. This new law modernizes records management by focusing on electronic records, and complements efforts by the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) 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 NARA in electronic form.
  • Granting the Archivist of the United States final determination as to what constitutes a Federal record.
  • Authorizing the early transfer of permanent electronic Federal and Presidential records to NARA, while legal custody remains with the agency or the President.
  • Clarifying the responsibilities of Federal government officials when using non-government e-mail systems.
  • Empowering NARA to safeguard original and classified records from unauthorized removal.
  • Codifying procedures by which former and incumbent Presidents review Presidential records for constitutional privileges. Formerly, this process was controlled by an Executive Order subject to change by different administrations.

For more information, see the December 1, 2014, NARA press release, “National Archives Welcomes Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014.”