An Open Letter to Wendy McLain, President, ARMA International on the Eve of InfoCon 2022

Dear Ms. McLain,

During the latter half of 2010 it became clear to me that ARMA International had become intent on turning its back on its longtime members and joining the Big Tech community’s war on the records management discipline.

As a dedicated career records management professional who recognized how vitally important our fiduciary relationship with our customers had become in the Information Age, I became determined to find out why ARMA was making this decision, with hopes of convincing the association’s leadership to reconsider, so I began writing emails to ARMA Presidents (and CEOs, when ARMA had them) asking what I believed to be very fundamental questions about who ARMA was, what ARMA stood for, and who the association represented.

Sadly, for reasons I can only speculate on, no one I wrote to was willing to respond to my questions. This continued for six years until I finally decided to post my list of questions publicly on my blog in March 2016. You can find that original blog post here: “An Open Letter to ARMA from a Records Management Professional at a Critical Turning Point in History.”

Posting these questions was enough to convince one member of 2016 ARMA leadership to respond – but only if I promised not to publicly release his/her replies. Against my better judgement, I agreed.

Now, more than six years later, I believe it is important that I make those original responses – and my own comments based on those responses (in red) – available to you and other members of the ARMA Board. (Please find this document attached/below.)

To be clear, Ms. McLain, I don’t feel comfortable breaking my promise, but I now believe it is the only way to demonstrate to you and other members of the ARMA Board how important it is for you to end your attacks on the records management discipline and begin to speak truthfully about your association.

I don’t have time to review each response, so I will focus on the response that would have had the most impact had I published it six years ago: ARMA’s position on the DoD 5015.2 Electronic Records Management Standard.

As I hope you are aware, the DoD 5015.2 Standard was a disastrous model for managing the lifecycle of electronically recorded information. Its use, in both the public and private sectors, has resulted in horrific consequences over the last quarter century. This is the reason that the National Archives and Records Administration revoked its endorsement of the Standard last April after supporting it since 1997.

I wrote the original open letter six years ago. Had I published your former leader’s responses when he/she first provided them, perhaps it would have ultimately convinced NARA to revoke its endorsement of the DoD 5015.2 Standard much earlier. And had that happened, it is impossible to know the number of tragedies that could have been avoided, including the loss of innocent lives.

This is why it is critically important that you not repeat the shameful behavior of your predecessors and speak truthfully about your association during next week’s InfoCon conference.       

As an effort to help, here is a short list of simple “yes” or “no” questions you should respond to as you address InfoCon attendees:

  • Does ARMA believe that “records management” is a clearly defined discipline separate from “information governance”?
  • Does ARMA agree with your former leader’s definition of “information governance” as presented in his/her response to my 2016 open letter?
  • Is ARMA committed to putting the concerns of its members above all other priorities, including the demands of the vendor and Big Tech communities?
  • The National Archives has replaced its endorsement of the DoD 5015.2 Electronic Records Management Standard with their own solution “standard,” the Universal Electronic Records Management Requirements. Does ARMA endorse this new standard, as it once endorsed the DoD 5015.2?
  • Is it ARMA’s position that “data” and “information” are the same things?
  • Does ARMA consider information lifecycle management a critical component of an organization’s information security strategy?
  • Is it ARMA’s position that information storage is the same as information preservation?
  • The closing keynote InfoCon 2022 speaker is literally – not figuratively – a clown. Is this an indication of how seriously ARMA views the professional discipline it represents?
  • Has any former member of ARMA leadership ever conspired with dishonest members of the information technology community to destroy the career of a records management professional because he or she disagreed with ARMA’s policies?

At its core, records management is the search for the truth, Ms. McLain. There is no profession more noble. If you are unable to provide InfoCon attendees with simple, truthful “yes” or “no” answers to this short list of questions – for whatever reason – it would be an insult to all the dedicated records management professionals who have practiced our ancient discipline with honesty and integrity for thousands of years, and you should resign from your position as ARMA’s President.


Donald R. Lueders, CRM

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