Revising DoD 5015.2, the De Facto RM Software Standard: The Latest Revision of DoD 5015.2-STD Now Includes Requirements for Records Management Application (RMA)-to-RMA Interoperability

By Swartz, Nikki | Information Management, July-August 2008 | Go to article overview

Revising DoD 5015.2, the De Facto RM Software Standard: The Latest Revision of DoD 5015.2-STD Now Includes Requirements for Records Management Application (RMA)-to-RMA Interoperability


Swartz, Nikki, Information Management


In 1997, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) developed a voluntary records management standard--DoD 5015.2-STD Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications--as a requirement for records management applications (RMAs) implemented within its departments.

The standard established mandatory baseline functional requirements for RMAs and requirements for classified marking, access control, and other processes. It also identified non-mandatory features the DoD deemed desirable for RMA software. Since then, the standard has undergone a few revisions and has become the de facto seal of approval not only for federal agencies, but also for public and private organizations worldwide considering software to manage electronic records.

DoD 5015.2-STD is a standard and certification program for records management software products whose requirements really apply only to software vendors wanting to sell their products to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and federal agencies. In the past, the use of the standard--and its testing and certification program--was limited for those outside of the U.S. government because it didn't test for key functionalities--including scalability and interoperability--that weren't federal or NARA requirements. However, with the introduction of recent revisions of the standard, this situation is changing, and DoD 5015.2-STD has become more relevant for records managers everywhere while moving the federal government into the future.

A Focus on FOIA, Interoperability

Major additions in Version 3 of DoD 5015.2-STD, which was signed April 25, 2007, include requirements supporting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Privacy Act, e-mail, and interoperability. The Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), a U.S. government organization that tests technology for multiple branches of the armed services and government and runs the 5015.2-STD testing and certification program for software vendors, began testing under the new version of the standard in January 2008.

Specifically, Version 3 provides for greater data security and integrity. It builds on the automatic linking, user-defined fields, and logic in Version 2. New with Version 3 is a requirement to be able to create alerts and notifications regarding changes in metadata fields and to restrict metadata access based on the contents of fields.

It also requires data integrity checking, comparing the expected and actual content in a repository through on-demand or scheduled integrity checks. Perhaps more important, it includes requirements for managing FOIA and Privacy Act records, as well as for data and e-mail discovery standards, NARA record archival export standards, and import/export requirements for moving records among compliant electronic recordkeeping systems. The update also supports service-oriented architecture solutions.

While those who rely on the standard for selecting records management software will certainly appreciate the updates, there is more work to do. Ronald Kelly, deputy director for information policy and integration for the DoD, who also sets DoD records management policy, said he is aware that the updates do not cover all the bases that records managers both in and outside the federal government--would like it to.

"It's not there yet, and it's certainly not the series of steps that we would've liked to have done, but because we know that we're going to have to go with modest change as things evolve, we weren't able to take the great leaps that we really wanted to," he explained. "The changes--privacy, interoperability, and e-mail-were mainly so that the vendors see a next-version of where we should be going."

Currently, NARA is reviewing Version 3 to determine whether to approve it for all federal agencies, according to Kelly. This is standard procedure for all DoD 5015.2-STD updates. Kelly said he expects NARA to finish its assessment by the end of the year or sooner. …

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