Thorough metadata and classification keys for better management of federal data and records

What is an official document, how long should it be kept, to what extent should it be retrievable and should it eventually go to the National Archives? Such questions have vexed federal managers for years. These questions were difficult when all the records were on paper. Now agencies have to manage emails, SMS, social media posts, spreadsheets, PDFs and more.

In addition to properly classifying it for storage, agencies must identify it with metadata if a record needs to be retrieved for, say, a Freedom of Information Act request or legal discovery process.

Fortunately, the federal archives have contemporary tools that can help them classify and organize structured and unstructured data in such a way that it can be easily retrieved if needed and avoid unnecessary online storage expenses.

That’s the subject of this dialogue between Michael Sarich, FOIA director of the Veterans Health Administration, and David Scott, director of product management at Veritas. They discuss the range of data practices and strategies needed for today’s political and compliance environment.

Data management and strategies

People have 18 ways to communicate [just] on their cell phones. Different things are proliferating every day. It’s a challenge for everyone to make sure you can get hold of all those communications, monitor them, and capture the content that’s relevant to decision-making and freedom of information law requests.

Focusing on metadata from a FOIA perspective really improves its discoverability. This will then impact user experience, product quality, the policy our agency will create, and what we will share with our audience.

Rich Metadata Application Strategies

Not all data is created equal. Understand the data you’re sitting on – is it properly protected? How long should I keep it? Maybe no one has touched this file in 10 years. It starts with classifying and understanding who is accessing it and how often. This alone can dictate whether it is a permanent record or a temporary record.

Listen to the full show: