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Electronic Records Management Defined by Court Case and Policy.

Two lawsuits offer bookends to a decade's worth of federal-level recordkeeping litigation in the United States. These are the PROFS (Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President) and General Records Schedule 20 [hereafter "GRS 20"] (Public Citizen v. Carlin). These cases established e-mail recordkeeping policy for the entire U. S. federal government, from message creation through disposition. As such, they speak directly to issues of e-mail management that many information management professionals are currently facing.

This article provides a synopsis of the litigation, examining its roots, the questions it raised, and the judicial rulings it produced. It then focuses on areas where the lawsuits opened key conceptual and definitional issues regarding e-mail and its management. It concludes with observations about the impact of these cases and offers an assessment of their place within the broader social transformation currently being wrought by the mass proliferation of desktop computing and messaging.

The litigation of these two cases deals with a specific environment, one comprised of its own legalities, technologies, and work practices. As a microcosm, however, it raises and addresses substantive e-mail management issues relevant to any information management professional concerned with e-mail. It speaks specifically to those who must operate in a legal environment where recordkeeping practices are specified in law. The plaintiffs recognized early on that recordkeeping laws do more than provide guidance on appropriate practice for the government's own administration of its information assets. They establish an enforceable set of legal recordkeeping requirements. The plaintiffs successfully argued that recordkeeping laws also provide for a public interest in government recordkeeping -- an interest that can be litigated.

Case Synopsis

Electronic mail was introduced into the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) on a pilot basis in 1982. In April 1985, it was made more widely available throughout the NSC via PROFS software.(1) The PROFS system allowed users to exchange e-mail, transfer text documents, and share calendar information. PROFS e-mail functionality provided users the ability to log on to the system and compose, transfer, display, receive, store, file, forward, print, and delete electronic messages. Backup tapes of all messages stored on the system were made on a rotating nightly and weekly basis (Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President [EOP] 6 February 1989, 2; U.S.A. v. Poindexter 15 March 1990).

PROFS System Gains Notoriety

The PROFS e-mail produced by the NSC gained wide public notoriety in late 1986 and throughout 1987 with the exposure and investigation into the "Iran-Contra Affair," an illegal initiative in which arms were sold to Iran to obtain the release of U.S. hostages held in the Middle East and then the profits from these sales were used to fund the U.S.-created Contra army in Nicaragua in its efforts to overthrow the Sandinista government.

The PROFS system provided the primary communications conduit between two of the key participants in this diversion scheme -- NSC staffer Oliver L. North and his boss, National Security Advisor John M. Poindexter (U.S. Congress 1987, 138). In the days before the scandal erupted publicly, North and Poindexter collectively deleted approximately 6,000 messages from their e-mail user spaces on the computer; the vast majority being deleted by Poindexter.

The White House Communications Agency, however, had set aside backup tapes containing snapshots of their user spaces before the mass deletion. Through these backup snapshots, various Iran-Contra investigations were able to recover the deleted e-mail. The first major investigation into the affair, the Tower Commission, called the recovered e-mail a critical "first-hand, contemporaneous, account of events" (Tower Commission 1987).

E-mail -- Record vs. Nonrecord

In early 1987, NSC policy towards e-mail was that it served primarily as a surrogate/substitute for "information that would be otherwise handled by phone" (U.S. National Security Council 5 March 1987). E-mail, then, was viewed primarily as a communications medium that relayed nonrecord material. On those (presumed) rare instances when an official record was created, users were directed to print the e-mail message onto paper and file it or, alternatively, to codify the message contents within a written memorandum or letter. Once the message was reduced to paper, the remaining electronic version could be erased as a "convenience copy."(2)

At times, this policy conflicted with actual practice. At one point in early 1988, NSC staff had to be admonished to keep the length of their e-mail messages to a minimum and to create a typed formal memorandum instead of composing long, complex messages (U.S. National Security Council 21 January 1988). Despite some contradictions evident between policy and practice, the print-and-file policy remained in force. During preparation for the January 1989 Reagan/Bush presidential transition, White House employees were reminded to "take care" and review their computer data, including their e-mail user storage areas, to "ensure" that they had made a "hard copy of all `record' material ..." (U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of Counsel to the President 1 December 1988).

E-mail Erasure Policy Challenged

Given what it believed was a sound policy for managing e-mail, the government fully expected in January 1989 to erase all Reagan-era e-mail stored on the live system to free disk space for the incoming Bush administration. A legal challenge to this proposed erasure opened the government's management of its NSC e-mail to public scrutiny and, probably to everyone's surprise, initiated a decade-long legal battle that reached its terminus in March 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case's final appeal.

In January 1989, representatives of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) told representatives of the National Security Archive(3) that electronic versions of e-mail messages would be purged from the White House's live system because all official record e-mail was assumed to have been proactively printed out and filed into official recordkeeping systems. NARA believed that the proposed erasure was clearly in line with both policy and law.

The National Security Archive found the government's reasoning to be faulty. They were quite skeptical as to the completeness of the paper record derived from electronic versions of e-mail based on what they had witnessed with Iran-Contra related e-mail; namely, that the North and Poindexter e-mail recovered was never printed out and filed. Facing what they believed would be a certain mass erasure of official-record e-mail in electronic form, they decided in January 1989 to file suit.

The government countered that PROFS was not a recordkeeping system. Rather, it was a communications system that normally did not produce records as records. The existing print-and-file policy was seen as compliant with federal recordkeeping law because it covered the preservation of record e-mail. Because the print versions of record e-mail contained all information that users saw on their own screens, the remaining electronic version was a deletable convenience copy (Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President 8 August 1992). The government would also argue that North and Poindexter's use was atypical and that the system for managing e-mail should not be condemned based on their practices.

The plaintiffs argued that the near-blanket assignment of non-record status to electronic e-mail messages was arbitrary, that the "form and content" of the electronic version was unique, and that paper printouts did not fully capture the entire record. Specifically, the plaintiffs held that certain metadata(4) -- such as the identities of senders and the recipient, acknowledgement receipts that provided senders with a date and time confirmation that their messages were received, and system usage statistics such as user logon/logoff and connect time -- appeared nowhere on the printouts they had seen. Furthermore, they argued that the existence of a paper printout did not automatically invalidate the record status of the remaining electronic version. Hence, current policy enabled the improper destruction of official records (Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President 6 July 1992).

Remarkably, the federal District and Appeals Courts took four years, from 1989-1993, to hand down their first substantive decisions on the recordkeeping issues. A good portion of this time was spent on legal wrangling over the plaintiffs' right to even launch the lawsuit.

The PROFS Verdict

In 1993 the District and Appeals Courts rendered decisions that largely favored the plaintiffs (Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President 6 January 1993; Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President 13 August 1993). The District and Appeals Courts agreed on key points. Both found that existing NSC policy permitted the improper destruction of federal records. They determined that electronic versions of e-mail were records in their own right and that the existence of paper printouts did not invalidate their record status unless they included all significant material contained in the electronic records.

As then-constituted, paper printouts were found to be incomplete copies of their electronic originals, omitting contextual attributes such as directories, distribution lists, and read receipts. The Appeals Court reasoned that these omissions were an "integral part of the original electronic records ..." and concluded that under these circumstances the electronic versions continued to retain their record status even after they had been printed out. At this point, the Court directed the Archivist of the United States [hereafter "the Archivist"] to preserve the electronic versions of the records under dispute and to develop new government-wide guidelines for managing e-mail.

GRS 20 -- A New Battle Ensues

An important -- but under-recognized -- fact about the PROFS case is that the GRS 20 lawsuit evolved directly out of the PROFS litigation. It includes roughly the same litigants and touches upon many of the same issues -- most significantly the suitability of paper printouts to stand as comprehensive surrogates of electronic originals.

In November 1991, the plaintiffs had entered an amended complaint in the PROFS case that included a clause about general records schedules. At that time, general records schedules were issued by the Archivist to authorize disposal of common temporary records of no archival value held by multiple agencies. This clause argued that GRS [20.sup.5] was "unlawful" if it permitted the destruction of electronic versions of PROFS messages that had "administrative, legal, research, or historical value."

One year later, in November 1992, the plaintiffs dropped this line of argument, believing that the government would not rely on general records schedules to dispose of electronic versions of PROFS messages. This belief was to change in August 1995 once the government released its final government-wide rule for electronic mail systems.

The final e-mail rule recognized that federal agencies were not well positioned or inclined to adopt electronic recordkeeping and took the view that electronic recordkeeping was something desirable for the future. The rule held that "record" e-mail could not be retained on an e-mail system unless that system provided recordkeeping functionalities such as the ability to group related records, provide easy and timely access to authorized individuals, and maintain records for the duration of their retention period.

Most significantly though, it held that once an electronic mail record was transferred to a recordkeeping system with "all appropriate transmission data," that "identical versions," such as the remaining electronic copy, could be disposed of under GRS 20. In this instance, "appropriate transmission data" included the identification of the sender, the recipient, and the date the message was sent (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration 28 August 1995).

On the same date the final e-mail rule was issued, NARA released a new version of GRS 20 regarding the disposition of electronic records. This new GRS 20 allowed the deletion of electronic versions of records created on word processing and electronic mail systems once a recordkeeping copy was made and transferred into a recordkeeping system -- be that paper or electronic (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration 28 August 1995). This revision of GRS 20 extended its scope to include electronic records created on office automation software such as e-mail and word processing. Previous iterations applied solely to centralized data processing operations (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, undated).

With the issuance of the final rule for electronic mail systems in August 1995, the PROFS case drew to a close. Timing is a critical issue here because what the plaintiffs thought had been previously removed from consideration, namely the use of GRS 20 to authorize the destruction of electronic versions of PROFS messages, reappeared under the new GRS 20.

The PROFS plaintiffs believed that linking the final e-mail rule with the new GRS 20 would result in the destruction of electronic records that they thought would be preserved as a consequence of the PROFS litigation. On December 17, 1996, the Archivist endorsed an EOP decision to dispose of the electronic records of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative under the assumption that all record material had been captured in a paper or microform recordkeeping system. For the plaintiffs, a cornerstone issue remained the retention of electronic records in electronic form. Later that month, the PROFS case plaintiffs entered a new lawsuit against the government -- the GRS 20 lawsuit (Public Citizen v. Carlin 23 December 1996).

Electronic vs. Transferred Records

In this new suit the plaintiffs argued that records stored in electronic format affected the administrative, legal, research, and/or other values of the records. They believed that records in their original electronic format were more valuable than identical records transferred to paper or microfilm. They also faulted GRS 20 for extending beyond the "administrative" records common to all federal agencies and sweeping into that schedule those "program" records documenting the unique, substantive functions of individual agencies. This action was seen to run contrary to the entire rationale for general records schedules and contrary to NARA's own language describing the scope and proper use of general records schedules (Public Citizen v. Carlin 23 December 1996).

The government argued in their final e-mail regulations that what was important was that electronic records be captured with appropriate transmission data (minimally the name[s] of sender[s], addressee[s] and date sent) within recordkeeping systems.(6) The electronic form in and of itself was not as important as having official records under recordkeeping control. Once the record copy of an electronic mail or word processing document was filed into a nonelectronic recordkeeping system, the remaining electronic original could be legally destroyed under GRS 20 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration 28 August 1995).

GRS 20 Voided

In late 1997, the District Court voided GRS 20, ordering the government not to "destroy electronic records created, received or stored on electronic mail or word processing systems pursuant to General Records Schedule 20." It found that the Archivist had inappropriately used GRS 20 to authorize the destruction of program records. The Court rejoined that electronic program records do not lose their program status once they are reduced to paper. Exploring further the distinctions between paper and electronic versions of e-mail and word processing records, the Court contended that electronic versions of records created on e-mail and word processing packages cannot "categorically be regarded as valueless `extra copies' of paper versions. Simply put, electronic communications are rarely identical to their paper counterparts; they are records unique and distinct from printed versions of the same record" (Public Citizen v. Carlin, 9 April 1998).

The Court also found that the Archivist had "abdicated" his role in preserving records held by agencies that had "administrative, legal, research, or other value." The Court reasoned that "while, in some cases, paper copies may in fact adequately preserve the administrative, legal, research or historical value of an electronic record, there is no rational basis for the Archivist's conclusion that a paper copy invariably adequately preserves such value in all cases and that electronic records never retain any administrative, legal, research or other value once such records have been copied to paper" (Public Citizen v. Carlin, 9 April 1998).

The Appeal and Reversal

Clearly unsatisfied with this refutation of their policy framework, the government appealed. The Appeals Court took nearly two years, until August 1999, to render its decision. Applying a two-step analysis, the Appeals Court reversed the District Court's ruling and found in favor of the government and in favor of GRS 20. First, it examined whether the U.S. Congress, in promulgating recordkeeping law, had spoken directly to the precise question at issue -- whether general records schedules applied solely to administrative records and not to program records. Finding that it had not, it then moved on to step two, which compelled them to defer to NARA's interpretation on GRS 20 as long as it was perceived as reasonable, consistent with the statute's purpose, and not contrary to the statute's language (Public Citizen v. Carlin 6 August 1999).

The Appeals Court upheld the legality of GRS 20 even though it permitted both program and common administrative housekeeping records to be subsumed within it -- an interpretation of general records schedules that appeared nowhere previously in NARA's statements on general records schedules. The Appeals Court deferred to the judgment of the Archivist that program records could be subsumed under GRS 20 as long as any record material and their metadata were transferred to an official recordkeeping system (Public Citizen v. Carlin 6 August 1999).

On the issue of whether electronic records were qualitatively better than their printed counterparts in terms of retrievability and research value, the Appeals Court was sympathetic with the Archivist's judgment that what was critical was that record material be maintained in a formal recordkeeping system. In the current environment this system meant paper recordkeeping systems. Although the Appeals Court was willing to entertain the notion that perhaps federal agencies needed to bite the bullet and manage their electronic records in electronic recordkeeping systems, they concluded that such a determination was the responsibility of the Executive Branch or the Congress, not the Courts (Public Citizen v. Carlin 6 August 1999).

Finally, examining further the qualitative differences between an electronic record and its paper counterpart, the Appeals Court found that for e-mail the plaintiffs identified no metadata that was absent from extant paper printouts. At this point recordkeeping metadata for e-mail messages meant names and addresses of both the recipient and the creator and the message's date. The Court deferred to the Archivist's assertion that GRS 20 mandated that all content, structure, and context data associated with an individual record be preserved upon transfer to agency recordkeeping systems. Agencies were then responsible for following the stipulations of GRS 20 (Public Citizen v. Carlin 6 August 1999).

Appeals Court Ruling Stands

In March 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court waived its right to review this decision. Hence, the August 1999 Appeals Court ruling will stand as the final arbiter of the PROFS and GRS 20 litigation. Although the plaintiffs won almost all battles in this lawsuit, they ultimately lost the war. As records management applications for maintaining electronic records in electronic form were just being commercialized in the late 1990s, the government was able to convince the Appeals Court hearing the GRS 20 case that the technology and practice infrastructures for managing electronic records electronically just did not exist across the federal government. Further, in its absence, official "record" e-mail could appropriately be printed onto paper with transmission data and filed into extant agency recordkeeping systems.

Lessons for Recordkeeping Professionals

The PROFS and GRS 20 litigation opened three key conceptual and definitional issues that have prodded both society and the recordkeeping professions to examine their assumptions about e-mail and its management:

1. the recordness of e-mail and attitudes towards e-mail as an official records creating technology

2. the suitability of paper printouts as a surrogate for an original electronic message

3. the importance of recordkeeping systems for managing records

Recordness or E-mail

Throughout the early years of the litigation, the government consistently argued that e-mail systems overwhelmingly did not produce official government records. Rather, e-mail messages were primarily a surrogate for innocuous telephone-tag types of communications.

What is interesting about this perspective is that it appears to have been derived in complete absence of any deep analysis into how e-mail was actually being used and how it was transforming organizational communication and documentation norms across the government. Instead of acknowledging this possibility, the government retrenched and directed its employees not to use e-mail to create official government records. The government's unwillingness to confront the potential alteration to recordkeeping norms and practices enabled by e-mail is perhaps best witnessed in the NSC's 1988 admonishment to its staff to stop using e-mail to communicate substantive records-oriented transactions. Staff was directed to create a typed paper record instead.

This litigation forced the government to withdraw from this narrow and unrealistic attitude towards e-mail. In 1993, the Appeals Court reasoned that at that time approximately 1,300 federal employees had access to EOP and NSC e-mail systems and were using them to "relay lengthy substantive -- even classified `notes' that, in content, are often indistinguishable from letters or memoranda" (Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President 13 August 1993). The litigation pressed the government to give up its nonrecord posture towards e-mail and to focus instead on how to manage the recordkeeping issues revealed by its increasingly widespread and substantive use within the federal government.

What is now evident is that e-mail technology can and does produce official records, in whatever context an "official" record is produced, and arguments to the contrary -- such as the continually cited telephone message analogy -- will almost certainly lose in court.

Suitability of Paper Printouts as a Surrogate for an Original Electronic Record

A substantial portion of the litigation was spent debating the value inherent in maintaining electronic records as electronic records versus the reproduction of the electronic original into a paper copy. The initial rulings in the case rendered the determination that, as constituted in the early 1990s, paper printouts of e-mail messages were not exact duplicates of the electronic original. Primary recipients were identified solely by their user IDs -- Oliver North was identified as "OLN"; John Poindexter, as "JMP." Also, it was unclear who was included in the distribution lists, where individual recipients were subsumed collectively under "aliases." From a paper printout, then, it became difficult, if not impossible, to determine precisely who received a given document at a particular point in time.

The litigation compelled the defendants to revisit the contextual attributes of paper printouts and develop clearer protocols for record metadata. The defendants' position turned in large part on specifying the capture of transmission data along with the record copy and then their transfer into a recordkeeping system. The case turned to the defendants' favor when they presented these arguments to the Appeals Court in the GRS 20 lawsuit.

On a deeper level, the real question is not, "Is a printout a suitable surrogate?" but, "Have/are people reliably and regularly printing out record materials and filing them into recordkeeping systems?" In 1991 the plaintiffs were granted discovery into the government's own use of the backup tapes that were preserved by the lawsuit. The plaintiffs learned that the government itself had searched the tapes for material related to the Iran-Contra investigation by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, Robert Gates' bid to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Justice Department's prosecution of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.

This knowledge demonstrated to the plaintiffs that e-mail was in fact being used to relay substantive communications well beyond the telephone message slip metaphor it continued to proffer. It also raised concerns over the degree to which printouts of record materials were actually occurring. If, as contended by the government, record material was printed out and filed in agency recordkeeping systems -- systems that the government argued eased search and retrieval -- why did they resort to the electronic versions when they were looking for critical messages?

Discovery also showed that the NSC technology infrastructure provided only two printers for more than 100 NSC employees who were using e-mail on a regular basis. Therefore, even with the print-and-file policy, the questions must be asked: Was the NSC's printer infrastructure up to the task? How would information security be ensured?

These examples indicate a disjoint between practice and policy prescriptions, casting skepticism on the belief that people are and have been actively and regularly printing out and filing record e-mail. This disjoint does not bode well for the archival record. It does, though, underscore the challenge of finding an appropriate balance between law, policy, and work practices within a changing technological infrastructure.

Importance of Recordkeeping Systems for Managing Records

Directly interwoven into the format dispute noted previously are discussions over recordkeeping systems. The defendants argued from the onset of the litigation that the capture of official records into official recordkeeping systems was the cornerstone of records management processes not only at the NSC but for the entire federal government as well. The plaintiffs were primarily concerned over how the technology was actually being used and the perceived retrieval and sorting advantages of information in electronic form.

Although awareness of the role and value of recordkeeping systems was obvious early in the case, the case forced NARA to be clearer on their meaning and value as well as to become more proactive in broadcasting their importance. This clarification is articulated in the final 1995 e-mail regulations, the final report (1997) of the Electronic Records Working Group assembled by the Archivist to assess GRS 20 in the midst of the litigation, and in the more recently announced Fast Track Guidance Development Project designed by NARA to assist federal agencies with managing their electronic records (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 28 August 1995; U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Electronic Records Work Group 14 September 1998. Available at: html).

Over the course of the litigation, the very real legal requirements for managing and archiving records clearly stretched beyond the actual infrastructure for capturing electronic records into electronic recordkeeping systems and managing them as such.

This situation was made abundantly clear in strong negative federal agency comments to a government-wide draft e-mail guidance from NARA suggesting electronic recordkeeping (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration 28 August 1995).

Clearly, reduction to paper made some practical sense given existing work practices and the rapid rate of change in hardware and software. Off-the-shelf software for managing electronic records electronically did not exist at the outset of the litigation. However, reliance upon paper for official recordkeeping was contingent upon individuals actually printing out and filing their record e-mail messages. The degree to which this process has been occurring is one of the great unknowns of e-mail usage across the 1980s and 1990s.

When assessing their organization's e-mail policy and practices, information management professionals should consider a series of questions:

* When are electronic office communications "records"? How do users distinguish official records from nonrecords? What are the qualities that distinguish electronic records and their printed counterparts?

* When and how should electronic office records be appraised and scheduled? What should be saved, for how long, and why? What stakeholders should/can become involved in this decision?

* In what format should records be maintained? Paper and/or electronic? How will records be preserved electronically over the long term?

* Where and how do recordkeeping systems fit in? What is the relationship between desktop document production and official recordkeeping systems? (How are they linked in process terms -- via policy, via staff training, via policy audits?) How will new and evolving records management tools for embedding electronic recordkeeping into electronic workflow be exploited?

* How do networks and network capabilities and usage affect all previous questions and answers?


This litigation forced social action in a time of great change, a time when stabilized routines and assumptions were challenged to be inadequate to the task at hand. Clearly the revolution in computerization, especially in networked environments, has, in some sense, turned the recordkeeping world upside down. Large bureaucracies like governments do not embrace change easily or even willingly. However, is resorting to the courts and lengthy and expensive litigation the best way to make public policy? Certainly not. Litigation does, however, provide a powerful and sometimes necessary mechanism to challenge murky governmental policy and practice. As recordkeeping laws stipulate required behaviors and practices, they can and probably will continue to be used by external actors to challenge governmental recordkeeping policy and practice.

However, a little perspective is needed on the debate over electronic records that has occurred in the courts over the past decade. In From Memory to Written Record, M. T. Clanchy reminds records and information managers that medieval England took nearly three centuries to develop new behavioral norms and routines for accepting and trusting a new technology -- written documents -- over those already established for oral testimony. This lengthy gestation period stands in glaring contrast to the fact that the personal computer has been around for barely 20 years; the networked personal computer, but 15.

On one hand, records professionals are in a period of tremendous social change in recordkeeping, and they do not fully understand what is occurring or how to manage the transition successfully. Computers are being used to transfer familiar document genres from the paper-based world to the digital world as well as to develop totally new genres that archivists and records managers have not previously confronted (Orlikowski and Yates 1994). Additionally, the networked environment is fundamentally altering organizational workflow and communication practices, the impact of which upon documentation is largely unknown (Dutton 1999).

Records professionals have developed some prescriptive models about how the world should look, but these models are being created largely in the absence of detailed knowledge of how the technology is actually being used and how it is actually transforming recordkeeping norms and practices. Recordkeeping solutions to the challenges ahead must be capable of becoming embedded within the new networked organization. Greater awareness about balancing the best fit between recordkeeping requirements, technological infrastructure, and actual work practices will help guide information professionals through this transition.



* legal problems and challenges in e-mail as an official recordkeeping technology

* paper printouts as a surrogate for the original electronic record

* role of recordkeeping systems in managing electronic records

Editor's Note: General Records Schedules are issued by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and cover many common temporary administrative records held by all federal agencies. Schedules for records specific to the program of each agency are covered elsewhere.


(1.) Later, other e-mail systems would be introduced; PROFS, however, came to be the preferred generic acronym when referring to White House e-mail.

(2.) Convenience copy is a term derived from the definition of records in the U.S. Code. This definition excludes "extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience of reference ..." from official record material. See 44 U.S.C. 3301.

(3.) The National Security Archive (NSA) is a nonprofit research library of declassified and unclassified U.S. government documents charting foreign policy. In 1989, the NSA was compiling an Iran-Contra document set for publication. See Malcolm Byrne and Peter Kornbluh (eds.), The Iran-Contra Affair: The Making of a Scandal, 1983-1988. Alexandria, VA: Chadwyck-Healey, 1990.

(4.) As the suit developed, this type of metadata became known as "transmission and receipt" and "content, structure, and context" information.

(5.) General Records Schedule 20 deals with electronic records.

(6.) NARA was neutral on the preferred format of such recordkeeping systems (paper, microform, electronic), but it was clear to all that this term meant paper systems. Off-the-shelf electronic recordkeeping systems were just being developed at that time.


Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President. "Declaration of George Van Eron." 6 February 1989.

Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President. "Opinion." 13 August 1993 (1 F.3d 1274).

Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President. "Opinion." 6 January 1993 (810 F.Supp. 338).

Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President. "Plaintiffs Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support of Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on the Adequacy of Defendants' Recordkeeping Guidelines and the Archivist's Failure to Perform His Statutory Duties." 6 July 1992.

Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President. "Reply Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on Counts II & IV (Recordkeeping and Archivist's Duties)." 8 August 1992.

Clanchy, M.T. From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307. 2d ed. Cambridge: Blankwell, 1993.

Dutton, William H. Society of the Line: Information Politics in the Digital Age. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Orlikowski, Wanda J. and Joanne Yates. "Genre Repertoire: Norms and Forms for Work and Interaction." MIT Sloan School Working Paper #3671-94. Center for Coordination Science Technical Report #166, March 1994. Available at: (accessed 12 September 2000).

Public Citizen v. Carlin. "Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief." 23 December 1996.

Public Citizen v. Carlin. "Opinion." 6 August 1999.

Public Citizen v. Carlin. "Opinion and Order." 9 April 1998.

Tower Commission. The Full Text of the President's Special Review Board. New York: Bantam Books, Inc., and Times Books, Inc., 1987.

U.S. Congress. House. Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, and U.S. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition, Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair, with Supplemental, Minority, and Additional Views. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1987.

U.S. Executive Office of the President. Office of Counsel to the President. "Presidential Records Act Obligations of Departing White House Staff." 1 December 1988.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. "Electronic Mail Systems, Final Rule." Federal Register, 28 August 1995: 44633-44642.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Fast Track Guidance Development Project. Available at: (accessed 12 September 2000).

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. "General Records Schedule 20 -- Disposition of Electronic Records." Federal Register, 28 August 1995: 44643-44650.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. "History of General Records Schedule 20, Electronic Records." undated. Available at: (accessed 12 September 2000).

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Electronic Records Work Group, Report to the Archivist of the United States. 14 September 1998. Available at: (accessed 12 September 2000).

U.S. National Security Council. "PROFS and A1." 5 March 1987. Undated fact sheet entitled "PROFS/VAX" attached.

U.S. National Security Council. "PROFS Notes." 21 January 1988.

U.S.A. v. Poindexter. "Testimony of Kelly Williams." 15 March 1990.

David A. Wallace, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at The School of Information, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has 12 years' experience in electronic records, management and in information policy. He is a member of the Association of Canadian Archivists and Society of American Archivists, whose Archival Educators' Roundtable he co-chairs. He received his doctorate from the School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh. The author may be reached at
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Title Annotation:(Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President)
Publication:Information Management Journal
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Previous Article:APPROACHES TO Electronic Records Management.
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