“The review took place in Washington, DC, between January 24 and March 15, 2014. What OIG Recommended – OIG made seven recommendations to improve the use of record emails by Department of State employees and mission staff members. OIG recommended establishing a process to review record email usage across missions and bureaus, as well as issuing guidance to Department of State employees and mission staff members that specifies their record-keeping responsibilities, provides examples to guide choices among cables and record and working emails, and suggests the establishment of record email policies. OIG recommended convening functionally defined focus groups to identify practical examples of official records; canvassing through focus groups in all bureaus periodically to identify obstacles to the use of SMART for record emails and cables; establishing an Electronic Records Management Working Group to advise on record emails and related issues; and making introductory and refresher courses on records management a requirement for Department of State employees. OIG also recommended expanding the Foreign Service Institute’s current record email training curriculum to include hands-on SMART client and classroom training as well as additional material on record-keeping requirements. What OIG Found March 2015 –
- A 2009 upgrade in the Department of State’s system facilitated the preservation of emails as official records. However, Department of State employees have not received adequate training or guidance on their responsibilities for using those systems to preserve “record emails.” In 2011, employees created 61,156 record emails out of more than a billion emails sent. Employees created 41,749 record emails in 2013.
- Record email usage varies widely across bureaus and missions. The Bureau of Administration needs to exercise central oversight of the use of the record email function.
- Some employees do not create record emails because they do not want to make the email available in searches or fear that this availability would inhibit debate about pending decisions.
- System designers in the Bureau of Information Resource Management need more understanding and knowledge of the needs of their customers to make the system more useful. A new procedure for monitoring the needs of customers would facilitate making those adjustments.”