This article reviews the arguments presented by both sides in the lawsuit Armstrong v. the Executive Office of the President, which concerned the electronic mail created by the Reagan and Bush White House on the IBM PROFS system. It examines the emerging consensus among archivists worldwide on approaches to managing electronic records and considers the ways in which the position taken by the government failed to reflect best practices. Specifically, it examines recent discussions of functional requirements for recordkeeping systems and raises some implications of a functional perspective for archival programs and strategies. It concludes by arguing that archivists will need to play a more active role in the society at large in order to ensure that the broader culture understands and acts on the threats to accountability presented by computer-based electronic communications.

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