January 2020 Print

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Looking back on 2019, looking forward to 2020

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President's Report

Kelly Minta, Chicago Transit Authority

In reflecting on my first 6 months of leading the ARMA Chicago Chapter, it has been a lot of things -  fun, stressful, sometimes exciting, sometimes disappointing, but always rewarding. My experience as Chapter president been what it is because of the hardworking, creative, and fantastic people I’ve had the privilege to work with in this role. It is one thing to have an amazing idea, but it is another to make those ideas come to life.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season and ringing in the New Year, I would like to propose a toast to all of our board members for the work they do to put on programs and provide professional development resources for our members throughout the year –

To our Vice President Lauren Doerries, for planning the 2020 Spring Seminar – thank you in advance for all of the additional work you are about to do!

To our Treasurer Cheryl Strom, for maintaining our budget and bank account – thank you for your diligence!

To our Secretary and Archivist Joe Suster, for taking our board meeting minutes and maintaining our records – thank you for being the records manager behind the records managers!

To our Chairman of the Board Cheryl Banke, for keeping us on track, supporting board initiatives, and handling presentations and remote meetings at our programs – thank you for stepping up to the plate and doing whatever is needed!

To our Advisor and Newsletter Editor, Laurie Gingrich, for providing guidance and publishing the newsletter – thank you for your wisdom and support in both board meetings and editing, and special thanks to LC Wagner for newsletter layouts!

To our Education Committee Chair Barbara Dalton, for planning our monthly educational programs – thank you for always thinking of our members’ professional needs when selecting quality programming!

To our Hospitality Committee Chair Michelle Paluch, for ordering and coordinating food and refreshments for every board meeting and program – thank you for your thoughtfulness in food and beverage options and for making everyone feel welcome!

To our Community Service Chair Esther Diamond, for helping us support SitStayRead through monthly raffles and donations throughout the year – thank you for reminding us all of the importance of giving back!

To our Communications Committee Chairs Lauren Doerries and Nate Pauley, for reaching our members through social media and our website – thank you for thinking of new ways to reach members!

To our Membership Committee Chair Pamela Coan, who personally reaches out to all of our members throughout the year – thank you for making everyone feel welcome and appreciated!

To our Interim Chapter Librarian Lauren Doerries, for maintaining the library – thank you for taking over the library in a pinch!

To our Vendor Committee Chair Dominic Zucchero, for reaching out to our business community and coordinating sponsorships – thank you for engaging with our sponsors and helping to support our chapter!

To our Webmaster Nate Pauley, for maintaining our website content and publishing emails to members – thank you for always being on call!

To our Auditor Tom Lesko, for reviewing our fiscal records every year, thank you for making sure we are in compliance!

So, cheers to all of those individuals making incredible things happen for our Chapter and moving us forward!

If you are interested in volunteering for ARMA Chicago, please visit our website for further information about our committees, or feel free to talk with any board member at an upcoming meeting. We have immediate needs for our Membership and Communications Committees. Also, please mark your calendars for our winter programs – January 14, February 11, and March 10 at the Aon Center. Details and registration are on our website.

Wishing you all a very merry holiday season, and I look forward to seeing you at our future events in 2020!

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Community Service

UPDATE: Since September we have collected $404, $222 of that at the December Holiday raffle.  Thanks members! Thanks vendor partners!

This year the Chapter selected Sit Stay Read for our Community Service efforts. The mission of Sit Stay Read is to advance children’s literacy skills using an engaging curriculum, certified dogs, and dedicated ‎volunteers.‎

They provide year-round programming for students in kindergarten through third ‎grade in select Chicago Public Schools where, on ‎average, 88% of students come from low-income households and 70% of students score below the ‎national average in reading.

In addition to giving students a fun, positive association with reading and writing, Certified Reading Assistance dogs also help ‎students feel more comfortable, less stressed, and better able to focus on their work.‎   During 2018, 88 dogs visited 86 classrooms in 17 CPS schools and spent 718 hours inspiring thousands of young readers. They’re not only great listeners – the dogs also develop a bond with students, often being featured in stories or book dedications written by the students.

All of this is accomplished at no cost to the schools or parents.  Due to the generosity of donors like ARMA Chicago, last school year 2,694 students in public schools and community centers received critical literacy support from Sit Stay Read volunteers and unlimited love from the canines!


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Member Focus


(Kelly Minta, Chapter President, and Joe Suster display Joe's retirement cake at the November 2019 Chapter meeting)

Joseph Suster, CRM - Career Retrospetive

I recently retired from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) after more than 41 years. It was quite a journey. In the summer of 1978, I was a “between jobs” history major looking for some quick cash for a good friend’s upcoming wedding. I had heard through the neighborhood grapevine that a local “warehouse” was hiring laborers to move “boxes.” I applied for the temporary position and got it.  The warehouse turned out to be the Chicago Federal Records Center (FRC), which is part of NARA. The boxes being relocated contained tens of thousands of Veterans Administration claims files, which are still being stored today.  As luck would have it, the FRC also had some permanent job vacancies at the time. I took the required (at the time) federal civil service test and became a full-time “permanent” federal employee in January 1979, a couple of days after Chicago’s great snowstorm that year. From there, I was able to advance eventually to a management position that included applying records life-cycle principles and practices to federal records and instructing federal employees on records management concepts.

A fellow Board member asked me to reflect on the changes I have seen in federal records management over those years. The most obvious one is the gradual transition in the federal government from paper or analog recordkeeping to electronic or digital recordkeeping. When I first started my career in 1978, the Chicago FRC was taking in more than 50,000 cubic feet (essentially bankers boxes) of records a year from the various federal agencies and disposing of a similar volume of temporary records. These records were invariably paper documents filed in case and subject correspondence files, maps, engineering drawings, and analog photographs. There was also a smattering of silver microforms and x-rays. By the time I retired earlier this year, those accession and disposal volumes were reduced by about 75%.

In the late 1990s, I started seeing floppy disks interspersed with paper documents in some agency case files sent for storage. By the early 2000s many, though not all, federal agencies had begun converting their primary paper-based business processes to electronic equivalents and keeping most of their digital records onsite or on offsite servers. This includes the federal courts and the Chicago-based Railroad Retirement Board, which were and still are major NARA customers. Most records now transferred to the Chicago FRC are legacy paper records created before or during these digital transitions, though there are still a few, mostly smaller federal agencies, that are wedded to paper.    

Concerning permanent electronic records, NARA in 1978 was receiving mostly ASCII and EBCDIC databases from federal agencies, such as the Census Bureau and Defense Department. As agencies later began creating permanent email, digital photographs, Word documents, geographic information system (GIS) records, and web records, NARA was challenged to find ways to accession and maintain those kinds of files in perpetuity. As a result of the Electronic Government Act of 2002, NARA was mandated to identify acceptable formats for permanent electronic records that were not databases. Today there are now scores of digital formats that NARA has identified as acceptable for storing and sustaining permanent electronic records created in the federal government.

During the last decade, both the Obama and Trump administrations have been aggressively encouraging federal agencies to transition to digital recordkeeping. A major surprise for me in 2018 was when NARA declared it would no longer accept for storage most temporary and permanent analog federal records after December 31, 2022.  In 1978, the Chicago FRC not only took in almost any record a federal agency wanted to transfer to it, it did so at no charge to the agency. That included free reference and refile services! Looking back, this change was inevitable, given how many records (just think email alone) in both the public and private sectors are now created electronically, but jarring nonetheless. NARA currently has either physical and/or legal custody of well over 30 million cubic feet of analog records and there are millions of cubic feet more still in agency custody.

Another change I have witnessed in NARA concerns its records management training program. For the last eight years, I have primarily been a records management course instructor and contributor of content to various new instructional products. Since I first started training federal employees in records management principles and practices in 1980 as a collateral job duty, most of the training has been face-to-face, instructor led. Beginning in Fiscal Year 2020, all NARA records management training is now online, free, and asynchronous, meaning it can be taken at any time of the day or night. Quite a change. By the way, all of NARA’s records management courses, briefings, and other instructional products can be found on the records management page of NARA’s website: www.achives.gov. Just look under training. With the exception of records management training designed specifically for federal agency records officers, all other NARA instructional products are accessible for use by the public at no charge and without copyright restriction.

In conclusion, I enjoyed my years at NARA. The agency has many constituencies: the public, other federal agencies, veterans, genealogists, authors, and a wide variety of researchers. Its mission as the nation’s recordkeeper is vital to a flourishing republic. I also had the privilege of working with many dedicated staff devoted to managing and providing access to essential evidence about our country’s history. NARA was a great place to work.


Joseph Suster, CRM                                                                                                                                                             2019-2020 Board Secretary                                                                                                    



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Inside the Boardroom

Report on Fall Board Meetings

The chapter is already off to a great start for the 2019-2020 operational year. Here are some highlights from the September, October, and November Board meetings:

On Tuesday, September 10th, the Board met at the law offices of Saul Ewing Arnstein and Lehr LLP in downtown Chicago. Chapter President Kelly Minta stated that she is reviewing and revising the Board’s Oaths of Offices, Buyers Guide (formerly the Vendor Guide) and Chapter Handbook. All three items will be subsequently distributed for Board review and approval at the October meeting.  The revised 2019-2020 budget was previously sent to Board members for comment by Treasurer Cheryl Strom. A final version of the budget will be voted on by the Board in October. Board Chairperson Cheryl Banke mentioned that the Milwaukee ARMA chapter is looking to collaborate with some Chicago chapter CRMs to present CRM exam prep sessions later this year.  Auditor Tom Lesko requested copies of the chapter’s 2018-2019 financial records so he could begin the annual audit. SitStayRead will repeat as this year’s chapter charity. Education Committee Chair Barbara Dalton shared that locations are still needed for the December, January, February, March, and April chapter meetings.  Vice President Lauren Doerries will serve as chapter librarian until another member can be found for the position. She is currently updating the book inventory. Vendor Committee Chair Dominic Zucchero discussed the revised vendor sponsorship levels that were previously approved by the Board. He requested and received approval to solicit sponsorships from entities other than records management vendors, such as law firms. Related to that, President Minta mentioned that for this year vendor sponsorships will be prorated per month and that the sponsor program year will run from August 2019 to July 2020.

On Tuesday, October 8th, the Board again met at the law offices of Saul Ewing Arnstein and Lehr LLP. President Minta mentioned that Board Secretary Joe Suster would serve as chapter archivist this year. She also stressed that Board members continually need to gather chapter records from various locations and ensure they are uploaded to the official records repository. Any proposed edits to the chapter retention schedule are due by October 31st.  The Board discussed whether or not insurance policies should be on the retention schedule, as the chapter currently does not have insurance and may never had. President Minta will reach out to other ARMA chapters to determine what they are doing regarding chapter leadership insurance. Chairperson Banke announced that all chapter meetings from December through April will be held at the Microsoft Tech Center, 200 E. Randolph Drive, 2nd Floor, Room MPR1. The chapter’s 2019-2020 budget was approved and passed by unanimous Board vote:  9 yays, 0 nays. A discussion followed regarding a special raffle at the December chapter meeting for SitStayRead, this year’s adopted charity. Vendors or chapter members can donate prizes and all raffle proceeds will go to SitStayRead. Contact Community Service Chair Esther Diamond for details. 

The Board met at the East Bank Club on Tuesday, November 12th. President Minta reminded Board members of the upcoming chapter social event at the Madison Tavern downtown on Tuesday evening, November 26th. Members were encouraged to bring friends. Vendor Committee Chair Zucchero is organizing the meet and greet. He also announced that R4 is onboard as a diamond chapter sponsor for the year, while Bradford Systems will be a silver sponsor. Treasurer Strom circulated copies of the chapter’s final budget for 2019-2020, the document showing healthy operational balances. Vice President Doerries mentioned that she had contacted MER concerning its partnership with the chapter for the 2020 Spring Seminar. She stated that MER is proposing some format changes that should benefit seminar attendance. Rich Medina from Doculabs will likely be the speaker at the chapter’s program event on December 10th. That event will be sponsored by Belvedere Consulting and will feature a prize raffle for the chapter’s selected charity:  SitStayRead. Membership Chair Pamela Coan shared that the chapter recently gained three new members, but overall all chapter membership is still down for the year. Declining membership is a problem many ARMA chapters are experiencing. Newsletter Chair Laurie Gingrich announced that there would be a December issue of the chapter newsletter.         

We want to remind chapter members that Board meetings are open to all for their participation. Please check the chapter website for future meeting dates and times.

Joseph Suster, CRM                                                                                                                                                             2019-2020 Board Secretary                                                                                                    

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Programming and Education

Thanks to the Education Committee for a variety of on-point RIM-related programs for the Chicago chapter.  

Upcoming (see armachicago.org calendar for details and to register)

January 14, 2020: Hiring, Discipline and Firing without Headaches Jason Tremblay, Esq. 

Past programs:

September, 2019:  Protecting the Castle: Where Legal Operation, Security and Records Intersect  Doug Kaminski, Cobra Solutions LLC

October, 2019: Project Management for Real Life Dana Moore, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

November, 2019:  United States Culture of Privacy. Laurie Fischer, HBR Consulting

December, 2019: Transforming RIM SILOS into Enterprise IG  Rich Medina, Doculabs

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Thought Leadership

Does Your Organization Have ROT? How to Get That Disposition Project Moving!

By Cheryl Banke, CRM

There is no time like the present to get moving with that disposition project.  GDPR has been with us for a while now, and CCPA has just started.  This article will look at reasons why we have so much data.  It will identify why organizations should review, and get rid of, Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial (“ROT”) data.  Finally, it will discuss ways to get rid of ROT, and reduce the overall costs for maintaining appropriate business records.

There are several reasons why organizations may have, or may obtain, so much data:

  • Acquisition Growth – organizations acquire companies to help bolster their growth, and they obtain systems that have redundant purposes. It takes a while for these systems to be reviewed and streamlined.  Ultimately waiting for long periods of time before integration actually takes place.
  • Shadow IT – many organizations have competing teams that may have similar needs for technology. A true strategic effort for obtaining technologies goes by the wayside so that a particular business unit can have the latest and greatest, which results in redundant systems, used by different groups.
  • Antiquated Systems (a/k/a sheer laziness or limited resources) – Let’s face it, getting rid of old systems (like shared drives) is not easy to do, nor is it a priority. Technology that has worked for long periods of time, become part of the culture.  One CIO I worked with said “culture trumps technology”.  I couldn’t agree more, as I have found that it is extremely challenging to change habits!  Shared drives or department drives, and even SharePoint sites, have become the stomping ground for the vast majority of clutter.  A recent client I worked with claimed to have files from over 20 years ago for employees who had been gone for over 10 years.  (This made the hairs on the back of my neck stand-up….)

So, what do we do about all this data, and how do we dispose of it in a method that is repeatable and defensible?  Without going into Marie Konmari’s (a/k/a Marie Kondo) life-changing philosophical method for organizing your life, I think there is a good systematic approach to be taken.   Keep in mind that a repeatable process is key, and as Laurie Fischer from HBR Consulting recently stated at our November ARMA Chicago meeting, “defensible disposition is dependent on a clear definition of legal, regulatory, privacy and operating requirements.”  Start by building a team from the typical functional groups such as Records and Information Management, Information Governance, Legal, IT, Risk Management, HR, Finance, Tax and “yes” the CXO suite.  As a team, you will need to work together, to develop four things:

  1. Defensible Disposition Policy – Key to this policy is an explanation of why the organization will be disposing of information assets such as:
    1. reducing risk and possible exposure associated with unnecessary retention of data that could potentially be produced in litigation or investigations,
    2. reduction of overall storage costs and resources to maintain large amounts of data,
    3. increased ability to find critical data and decrease current inefficient use of time and resources.

This policy will typically have a process diagram attached.

  1. Defensible Disposition Playbook – This playbook will explain how you will be disposing of the information assets.
  2. Search Criteria – The criteria are key to your discovery efforts and where the action gets effectuated.
  3. Disposition Project Plan – A project plan that will provide overall project plan support for executing the disposition of the ROT. You may even already have some sort of project plan.

Defensible Disposition Policy (the Why)

The policy should be in alignment with your other information governance type of policies, such as Records Retention Policy and Schedule, Legal Hold Policy, and Privacy Policies.  These other policies are often cited within the Defensible Disposition Policy (“DDP”) and they work together to bolster the whole information governance program.  In addition to having a purpose, scope and owner of the policy clearly drawn out, the DDP policy should address Record Retention, clearly define what abandoned and/or orphaned data means, and outline proper archival, disposition, prevention of accidental loss, exceptions or legal holds, and violations to the policy. 

Further, it is critical to identify the framework used in the policy.  By that I mean:

  1. Identification – How you are going to identify the data subjects and determine classification and ownership. (Often there is some technology used.)
  2. Retention – Assessing the data to determine if retention has been met for business records.
  3. Preservation – Review of the data for legal, tax or other exceptions.
  4. Disposition – Prompt and proper action taken to dispose of the data discovered.
  5. Repeat – Repetition of the process across data assets on an on-going basis.

This policy should include a glossary of terms and provide a process diagram that shows how the framework is used.

Defensible Disposition Playbook (the How)

I like to think of the Playbook as an outline, at least to start.  The Playbook should provide a step-by-step guide on how the departments will defensibly dispose of electronic files in their network shared drives and other systems.   The Playbook should identify what are the activities and the outputs for each part of the process.  At the beginning of the Playbook, make sure you communicate the compliance requirements that the cleanup will fulfill (such as your retention policy, privacy policy, classification policy and any other standards and requirements, etc.).  Secondly, draw out the roles and responsibilities for the team such as Legal, subject matter experts, executives, information managers, system administrators, and records coordinators. 

Next is selecting a tool.  It is likely that IT has tools like this that they use for migration or responses to litigation.  Draw out what tools are in the tool belt and if no tools exist, determine what tools you might want to investigate.  It is ideal that the tool is indicated in the Playbook.  Once you’ve got those tools identified, here’s where your criteria come into play.  Draw out in the Playbook how you will use the criteria to determine what you will disposition. 

Once you have the tools identified, and can begin with an inventory of your repositories, then you can begin the scan.  Work with IT and the business repository owners to verify how and when the scanning will be conducted.   The repository will need to be loaded into the scanning tool and be able to provide updates as the scanning occurs.  Ultimately, the outputs for the scanning will be progress reports with status and percentages.

Analysis and recommendations will be based on the scan results, this will assist in determining your targets for cleanup of the ROT.  Now you will need to plan for the disposition project.  Keep in mind, some content may be moved to archives, quarantined or deleted.  This should go without saying, but ultimately ensure that nothing is deleted without a legal check for investigations, audits, or even “reasonably anticipated” litigation.  It is prudent to obtain sign-off prior to executing the disposition project.

Last, but not least, make sure you keep the log files that confirm the successful disposition that support your reports.  Retention of the log files should be drawn out in your retention schedule, to tighten everything up, and to make your process defensible and repeatable.

Search Criteria

Rather than simply creating a list of file types and metadata attributes that you want to focus on to determine what is ROT, the criteria should include the actions that will be taken for the file types and metadata.  Think of situations that you may come across while scanning the environment, such as:  1) What will happen when files stored on the shared drives that belong to former employees (such as home drives) are found.  Will that just be dispositioned, or will there be a timeframe that needs to occur prior to their disposition?  2) What will happen if decommissioned application files are discovered?  3) What will happen if harmful content like ransomware is found?  Working closely with IT, may help you determine the criteria, as they have intimate knowledge of the environment.

Disposition Project Plan

Be specific and use a RACI chart to draw out who will be doing what.  Draw out the priorities, objectives, goals, and actions as they align with the Policy and Playbook.  This could indicate areas of the business that are at the highest risk of having data that could expose the organization.  With the scanning results, you can determine if that ROT should be first, or last to be dispositioned.  The project plan may not be formally documented, but you should know what your goals and objectives are overall. 

Remember that even though change is challenging, disposing of electronic data (either records or non-records) is as important as disposing of your physical records and non-records!  It is a critical time in history for us.  We must begin the process that will enable organizations to dispose of ROT.  As RIM and IG professionals, we need to save costs by minimizing ROT within the organization, reducing any exposures to risk, and helping to safeguard the organization’s brand and reputation.  A fellow colleague of mine, and fellow ARMA Chicago member once said, “If you don’t have it, they can’t hack it!”  How true…

This article was written solely for ARMA Chicago by: 

Cheryl Banke, MLIS, CRM

Founder & CEO

Belvedere Consulting, LLC


[email protected]


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