Released on April 25, 2007, DoD Standard 5015.02 is the United States Department of Defense’s “Electronic Records Management Software Applications Design Criteria Standard.” As is explained in the Foreword section of the criteria, Standard 5015.02 only directly impacts the document management software used by the Department of Defense, as well as “DoD Components.” However, the term “DoD Components” refers to the organizations that the Department of Defense oversees, which means that the “mandatory baseline functional requirements for records management applications” as laid forth in DoD Standard 5015.02 can be important for businesses and organizations that are not technically a part of the government.

In case the Department of Defense’s standards of compliance for electronic record management impacts you, your business, or an organization your company works with, we have put together a brief guide outlining some of the important tenets of the DoD Standard 5015.02. If you would prefer to read the entire Applications Design Criteria Standard, you can find it in full PDF form by clicking here.


Key Tenets of DoD Standard 5015.02

Record Folder

The DoD Standard 5015.02 includes a segment on what the Department of Defense calls a “record folder.” In essence, a “record folder” is just what most enterprises consider as their entire electronic document management system: a full library of digital files, spanning file types, categories, and purposes.

The key component in the record folder segment of the standard says that records management applications must “provide for sorting, viewing, saving, printing, identification, search, retrieval, display and archiving of record folder metadata.” Text-searchable documents are a huge part of what makes document management software more efficient and convenient than paper filing systems. This tenet of the DoD Standard 5015.02 calls for the Department of Defense and all connected organization to have such easy-to-navigate electronic filing systems.


Classified Record Components

This segment discusses requirements and recommendations for how organizations should manage and provide security for various types of classified files. Much of the security involves keeping metadata in tact on digital files or even using metadata for security purposes. The metadata-based security system provides different groups with what are called supplemental marking, which essentially works as role-based securities. To access specific documents or files, a user or group must have a certain set of supplemental markings.

Don Leunders, who actually worked on developing DoD 5015.02, says that using metadata for security in this fashion is far from the best option available. As Leunders writes in this 2013 blog on why he no longer supports the DoD 5015.02 Standard, requiring different supplemental markings for different groups seeking access to different files could very quickly create an overcomplicated system—particularly in an organization with a lot of workers or a huge array of files. In fact, Leunders doubts that any organization, “public or private,” actually follows this part of the Department of Defense standard. Still, the tenet is notable for how it compares to more seamless role-based security functions available in document management software like eFileCabinet.


Accounting Record Components

The Accounting Record Components of the DoD 5015.02 directive require electronic records management systems in accounting-related situations to tag documents with unique identifying numbers, as well as to track those files for review. When an accounting document is reviewed, the review date, the name, and the contact information for the person who conducted the review and various other pieces of information must be preserved with the document itself.

These requirements are comparable to the review functions included with most document management software (DMS). In DMS, the system will usually track files based on who accesses them, the time a file was accessed, and any edits the person accessing the file made to the document. If an outside party is auditing a file, information about the person, time, and actions are also preserved.


Electronic Mail System

In one section, the DoD 5015.02 Standard calls for what is known as an “electronic mail system.” This system, the standard says, is “a computer application used to create, receive, and transmit messages and other documents” within a records management application. The basic idea of the electronic mail system requirement is to create a way for organizations to transmit data to third parties in a secure and efficient fashion. Since standard email is not secure enough, the DoD standard is meant to call for an alternative electronic mail system for safely transmitting information digitally.

At eFileCabinet, we have a feature called SecureDrawer, which essentially meets these terms, providing our clients with a secure way of sending project files, contracts, and other data to clients, customers, auditors, and other outsiders. Other pieces of document management software include similar features that are compliant with the Department of Defense’s “electronic mail system” requirement.


Other Tenets of Governmental DMS Use

As you can see, a number of the rules that were laid forth by the Department of Defense in the 5015.02 Standard have made their way into enterprise DMS. In addition to the features listed above, several tenets that have become standard in document management software—including document retention features, OCR (optical character recognition), data encryption, and more—are also mentioned or discussed at length in the pages of the Department of Defense’s Electronic Records Management Software Applications Design Criteria Standard.

Is it a coincidence that so many standard DMS features were included in the DoD 5015.02 Standard? Consider this: in 2007, when the DoD 5015.02 Standard first arrived, document management software was beginning to gain a foothold in the corporate world but was still far from the norm. Today, electronic document management is becoming a must-have service for many enterprises. So while Don Leunders might have been right in calling the DoD standard a flawed one, it’s tough not to see the standard as a big reason that document management software has grown as much as it has in the past 10 years. By boosting governmental DMS use and third-party compliance, the Department of Defense may have played a role in pushing corporate America into the future of document management.