An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

PEO Digital News

Navy Records Management is now moving at Flank Speed

10 January 2024

From Lindsey A. Phillips, PEO Digital Public Affairs

The term records management may evoke visions of manually filing paper into a cabinet, downloading files from a shared drive to upload elsewhere, or perhaps even dragging and dropping files from one location to another.
The term records management may evoke visions of manually filing paper into a cabinet, downloading files from a shared drive to upload elsewhere, or perhaps even dragging and dropping files from one location to another. A collaborative team led by Program Executive Office for Digital and Enterprise Services (PEO Digital), however, envisioned securely moving tens of millions of legacy records from cloud to cloud, without ever connecting any physical devices, at flank speeds of up to 80 megabytes (MB) per second – and when tasked with creating an innovative records management solution, that is exactly what they did.

There are now over 20 million records stored in the new Microsoft 365 (M365)-based records management solution.

The initiative began in June 2022, when the Department of Navy Chief Information Officer (DON CIO) formally tasked PEO Digital to stand up an innovative, cloud-based solution to replace the records management functions of its custom-built tool – DON Tasking, Records and Consolidated Knowledge Enterprise Repository (TRACKER).

The new M365 solution was required to replace DON TRACKER by the time the tool sunset on Dec. 31, 2022. To meet the six-month deadline, PEO Digital assembled a high-performing, cross-functional team composed of members from across the DON enterprise to shut down the DON TRACKER while simultaneously configuring and leveraging Flank Speed to enable the end-to-end management of U.S. Navy records. PEO Digital’s Digital Workplace Services (DWS) portfolio handled the overall technical implementation; PEO for Manpower, Logistics and Business Solutions (MLB) provided their subject matter expertise as the executive organization for the legacy DON TRACKER tool; DON Assistant for Administration Directives and Records Management Division (DON/AA DRMD) provided insight of policy and business rules needed to create a new solution; Naval Network Warfare Command (NAVNETWARCOM), fulfilled the role of tenant operator; and vendor partner Microsoft aided with the technical implementation and understanding of user interface/user experience (UI/UX) feedback.

“In true Flank Speed fashion, this effort was a shining example of various stakeholders across the enterprise coming together to meet deadlines and deliver an approved electronic records management solution,” said PEO Digital Technical Director (TD) Data and Automation Lead Dan Jones.

The team unveiled the minimum viable product (MVP) on Jan. 3, 2023, an enormous feat considering the consolidated timeline and challenges faced.

The National Records and Archives Administration (NARA) confirmed the viability of the MVP and its benefit to the Navy during a recent demonstration of its functionality. NARA required the demonstration as part of its assessment of the MVP as an approved electronic records management solution. During the demonstration, NARA also lauded the progress of the MVP’s technical capability over a September 2022 demonstration and was completely satisfied with its progress to date.

Securely moving records

With over 70 million legacy records, it was vital for the team to set up the hierarchy of records management within SharePoint Online and Power Platform capabilities – including automation workflows and applications required on the frontend of the solution – while simultaneously working on Azure storage solutions for the vast number of records pending migration on the backend. In order to ingest and consolidate the records into the new M365 solution, the team connected Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud and Navy’s Azure tenant to move data securely at speeds of up to 80MB per second, going from one location to another without having to connect a hard drive to a server.

“This was only possible due to dedicated Nautilus Virtual Desktop (NVD) resources for records management. The ability to protect deployments significantly reduced the risk to configurations being inadvertently modified and record migration failures,” Jones said.

Using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) methodology, the team was able to collaborate frequently, both intentionally and on an ad hoc basis, as they worked to simultaneously shut down the enterprise DON TRACKER system and configure Flank Speed as the new enterprise solution.

Speaking on behalf of the team, Jones said, “Managing this project in an Agile fashion means we have iterative delivery, and we deliver capability over time. Traditionally, with Waterfall methodology, you would wait until fully operational capability to share your solution. The way that we’ve been developing is on an incremental basis, which gave us the ability to adapt, react and redesign based on potential challenges that came along the way.”

The challenge of metadata

Within an official Navy record, there is associated metadata which primarily includes the record’s disposition schedule and data points that assist with the reference, management and subsequent destruction or transfer to NARA. These fields are mandatory as stated by NARA in Bulletin 2015-04.

Importing metadata presents an ongoing challenge, but the team utilized an Agile methodology which helped identify a problem before it became a larger issue. To leverage the technical capabilities of the M365 platform, the DON’s records’ schedules required careful consideration on their integration into the new system, utilizing document types, cutoff dates and retention labels. With legacy content coming from DON TRACKER, Micro Focus Content Manager and Navy Taskers (TV5), the metadata within each was captured and formatted differently. Not only that, iterating through multiple enterprise solutions can cause metadata to be incomplete, get lost or change.

Because this issue was identified early, the team was able to develop innovative solutions in alignment with DON/AA business rules to ingest the information into the new M365 solution and provide record managers the best possible metadata. They created business rules and leveraged the Azure Cognitive Search capability by using search parameters to identify where information relates to each record or command. As a result, the transfer of official Navy records to NARA for retention or disposition is securely enabled.

The future of records management

Another Azure capability that could influence the future of the Flank Speed records management capability is called Form Recognizer, an artificial intelligence (AI) service that allows you to upload files and extrapolate text – whether hand-written or typed – from forms.

While not part of the current solution, the records management team is considering implementing this AI service in dealing with the sheer number of paper documents in the world that need to be moved into Flank Speed. Ideally, a form could be captured as a photo on a Flank Speed managed mobile device, and on the backend – completely transparent to the person taking the picture – is the ability to take that information and transpose it into a template that can then be ingested to the frontend. In addition, that form may be an official Navy record that is now being stored automatically, reducing manual interactions.

The team has now briefed the Marine Corps, Army, NASA and the Records Management Summit on the Flank Speed records management capability. At each brief, the team shared how they are seeking ways to improve the existing solution to make it more affordable, faster and more secure.

As the Department of Defense (DOD) owns the solution, the possibilities are endless for the future of this capability – and the DON is lighting the way.

“We’re thrilled that these capabilities can pave the way for the DOD standard for M365 records management, and we are looking forward to lessons learned in support of the ongoing IL6 M365 deployment,” said PEO Digital’s Program Executive Officer Ruth Youngs Lew. “Furthermore, the effort aligned with the goals of the Operation Cattle Drive initiative to accelerate the modernization and transformation of our IT capabilities while reducing the number of unneeded, obsolete, unproductive, insecure and un-auditable legacy systems and applications.”



About PEO Digital

The Program Executive Office for Digital and Enterprise Services (PEO Digital) is the Department of the Navy's (DON) information technology (IT) networks, enterprise software, digital infrastructure, and hardware services provider. PEO Digital is positioned for flexible delivery of IT services to a broad spectrum of users, and is digitally transforming systems to deliver modern capabilities and technologies to help the DON maintain a competitive edge while connecting Sailors and Marines around the globe.

PEO Digital

Guidance-Card-Icon Dept-Exclusive-Card-Icon