Summary

For this US federal government agency, records and information management (RIM) is an integral part of everyday work. They must comply with memorandums and directives for record classification and retention. This is in part to enable them to respond to the constant stream of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that many Federal agencies receive. When a FOIA request is received, the agency must be able to produce all records pertaining to the issue in question. Many of these are email records. To enable easier control and access of sprawling information, the agency looked to NEOSTEK and Colligo for a solution that would automate the movement of the files to their SharePoint repository.

Challenge

For the Agency, RIM practices to ensure compliance with M-12-18 and the ability to respond to FOIA requests involved complicated processes which were a burden on individual employees. Employees were tasked to set up specific folders in their archive inboxes in which they stored records—embedded in Outlook PST files. This approach made responding to FOIA requests problematic and error prone for several reasons:

  • Time consuming manual processes
  • Findability issues when people were out of office
  • Lack of email meta-data
  • Scattered information
  • Lack of public trust

Strategy

To address the requirements of M-12-18, the Agency worked with NEOSTEK to identify and implement an end-to-end records management solution that automated the process of converting emails into searchable SharePoint records. This solution would not only bring the Agency into compliance but would also streamline many of the processes involved in completing FOIA requests.

Colligo was tasked by the Agency to come up with the solution to automatically push email into SharePoint as records. Colligo implemented their Colligo Email Manager, an Outlook plug-in which seamlessly integrated SharePoint with Outlook within the native Outlook interface. The underlying record management processes did not need to change, and no extensive training was required. This allowed Colligo to deploy their Email Manager solution quickly. With Email Manager, employees were able to get acclimated right away. The solution made it possible for employees to view SharePoint records from within the familiar Outlook interface.

Results

Since implementing the new solution, the Agency has dramatically reduced the time needed to respond to FOIA requests, as well as the associated cost of inefficiency. Moreover, the Agency improved its records management practices in line with the federal maturity model, boosted compliance, realized 100% user adoption, and improved collaboration amongst employees.

Time and cost savings
Previously, complex FOIA requests could involve 40 or more employees each devoting 3-5 hours to find information. Now, this search can be performed by a single person in under one hour. At a rate of $150/hour for four hours per employee, this represents a $23,850 savings for each complex request. Each year, the Agency receives over 175 complex requests, representing a savings of over $4 million per year. Employee adoption reached 100% in short time, allowing the agency to realize another efficiency resulting from the Colligo solution.

Superior records management practices
The deployment of Colligo Email Manager has improved many records managements processes. Email records are no longer duplicated, as the system flags emails that have already been saved by another user. Records are tagged with rich metadata enabling greater search. Retention schedules are automated based on records classification at the instant they are captured. With Email Manager, employees simply drag and drop emails that qualify as records into a shared SharePoint folder. This same process can be also used for non-email files dragged into the Outlook navigation pane. Employees are able to maintain compliance with all applicable memorandums and directives with streamlined processes and better search functionality in place.

NARA maturity model gains
NEOSTEK and Colligo Email Manager ensured that the Agency was meeting the success criteria defined by the Federal RIM Program Maturity Model4, which is the government-wide analytical tool designed by NARA to evaluate the effectiveness of an agency’s records management program. With Colligo Email Manager, NEOSTEK has supported the Agency in their pursuit of the highest level of maturity (Level 4—“Embedded”), attained by embedding and integrating the email solution within the Agency.