Records Appraisal Report:
State Prosecuting Attorney

Contents of this report
Agency Contact | Agency History | Project Review | Record Series Reviews

Internal links to series reviews
Biennial Budget Requests
Correspondence
Strategic Plan


February 8, 1996 by Paul Beck, Appraisal Archivist


Agency Contact

This agency contact information was current at the time of the report but may have changed in the interim. Please call (512-463-5455) for current contact information of the agency's records manager or records liaison for these records.

Nita Parsons, Records Administrator
State Prosecuting Attorney's Office
Price Daniel, Sr. Building, Suite 202
PO Box 12405
Austin, TX 78711


Agency History and Structure

The Office of State Prosecuting Attorney (State's Attorney) was created by Senate Bill 123, 38th Legislature, Regular Session in 1923. The office's primary legal authority is now codified in V.T.C.A., Government Code, Chapter 42. The office represents the state in all proceedings before the Court of Criminal Appeals and in any stage of criminal cases before state courts of appeals if the state's interests require. The office also assists district and county attorneys who are representing the state before a court of appeals if the local attorneys request such aid. All opinions and decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeals and all opinions from the 14 courts of appeals, which reverse or modify the judgment of a trial court, are read and reviewed by the office. The State Prosecuting Attorney is appointed by the Court of Criminal Appeals for a two-year term.

Staffing is composed of the state prosecuting attorney, three assistant state's attorneys and three classified positions. All positions report directly to the state prosecuting attorney who serves as the executive director.

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Project Review

I was assigned this agency for appraisal review on September 25, 1995. I reviewed the agency history in the Guides to Texas State Agencies, 3rd - 8th editions, the original enabling legislation in General Laws, 38th Legislature, Chapter 165, 1923, and the current statutory authority in V.T.C.A, Government Code, Chapter 42. I have also looked at Annual Financial Reports and Requests for Legislative Appropriations. There were no destruction requests for this agency. I reviewed the agency's records retention schedule which had two series marked "A" for transfer to the State Archives and two series marked "R" for archival review. The two "A" series are: Biennial Budget Requests and Policies and Procedures. The two archival review series are: Correspondence and Meeting Speeches and Papers.

I had a telephone conversation about this agency on October 13, 1995 with Mary Ann Albin, the records consultant assigned to the Prosecuting Attorney office. I prepared a list of questions concerning their records retention schedule and mailed these along with our letter of introduction to the State Prosecuting Attorney and the records administrator on October 16, 1995.

I, along with Mary Ann Albin and Vickie Cawthorne from Records, met with the records administrator, Nita Parsons, and Sandra Wachsmann, administrative technician, on November 21, 1995 to ask questions about the archival status of records on their retention schedule and explain about the appraisal process. During the meeting it was determined that two series on the schedule - Policies and Procedures, coded "A", and Meeting Papers and Speeches, coded "R" - were actually empty of any records. After discussion with agency staff it became evident that neither of these series are ever likely to have records added to them. It was determined that these two series should be deleted from the schedule. Finally, there was a note in the Remarks column on each page of the schedule: "See Policy Statement." No one knew what that remark meant or referred to so it was decided to delete it. From this meeting I was able to gather enough information to submit this report.

The overall lack of direct documentation for the agency was also discussed and acknowledged during the appraisal meeting. There are no minutes since there is no policy-making board for the State Prosecuting Attorney . There are no executive orders or administrative reports. There are no records to give the overall administrative history of this agency back to its origins in 1923. In sum, there is only a small amount of material from the State Prosecuting Attorney to be considered for archival status.

The work output of the State Prosecuting Attorney, however, is documented by two series of case files, both marked permanent for agency retention, but without an archival designation on the retention schedule. Series 5A - "Case Files - SPA documents" - contains copies of records produced by the State Prosecuting Attorney for cases before the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court of Criminal Appeals keeps the original records in their case files. Series 5B - "Case Files - DA documents" - contains copies of records produced by District Attorneys from cases that the State Prosecuting Attorney gives assistance. The District Attorneys have the original case files. These case files also contain the correspondence related to each case. Neither case file series from the State Prosecuting Attorney, however, contains the record copy and thus these series were not given archival status on the retention schedule.

The State Archives, however, does have the original case files from the Court of Criminal Appeals from 1892- 1975. Thus, via the Court of Criminal Appeals, the State Archives has received case files of the State Prosecuting Attorney. Through these case files the work of the agency before the Court of Criminal Appeals from 1923-1975 can be documented and preserved.

Archives Holdings:

None

Previous Destructions:

Destruction requests on file in the Archives and Information Division of the Texas State Library were checked for the State Prosecuting Attorney and none were found.

Project Outcome

I am recommending that of the four series coded "A" or "R" that only the Biennial Budget Requests retain its archival designation. Both Policies and Procedures and Meeting Papers and Speeches are empty series and should be deleted from the schedule. The fourth series, Correspondence, I am not recommending for archival retention and it should have its "R" designation removed from the schedule.

It was decided to add a new series to the schedule for Strategic Plans since the agency had just created their first strategic plan separate from their legislative appropriation requests. Copies of strategic plans should be sent to the Publications Clearinghouse.

Delete the note - "See Policy Statement" - in the Remarks column on each page of the schedule.

The Biennial Budget Requests and Strategic Plans will provide historical coverage only back to 1970 for an agency in existence since 1923. The original case files of the State Prosecuting Attorney, however, are in the case files of the Courts of Criminal Appeals and the State Archives has the case files from the Court of Criminal Appeals from 1892-1975. Thus, through the Court of Criminal Appeals, the State Archives has received the case files of the State Prosecuting Attorney from 1923-1975. Through these case files the State Archives will be able to document the work of the State Prosecuting Attorney.

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Record Series Reviews

Record Series Review
Series Title: Biennial Budget Requests

Agency: State Prosecuting Attorney

Dates: 1970-[ongoing] Current total volume and dates: 0.5 cubic foot
These records are retained by the agency for six years after passage of the appropriations act. Actual holdings are 1990-[ongoing].

Obsolete record series? No
Ongoing record series? Yes
Annual accumulation: fractional

Current Agency Location: These records are in the offices of the State Prosecuting Attorney.

Archival holdings: None in the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library.

The archival requirement for this series is fulfilled by sending copies to the Publications Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse holds 1970-[ongoing]. Two copies of Requests for Legislative Appropriations must be sent to the Publications Clearinghouse. (13 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 3, Section 3.3 (c)).

Description: These records are the legislative appropriation requests of the State Prosecuting Attorney submitted to the Legislative Budget Board and others. These records date from 1970-[ongoing]. The records generally contain a narrative introduction of the agency and its functions and programs. The program objectives are listed along with a description of each objective, discussions of performance measures, statistics, program need indicators, and expenses--expended, current, and projected, at different funding levels.

Purpose: The purpose of these records is to request specific appropriations from the legislature and to provide justification for the amounts requested.

Agency program: Biennial budget requests are a mandatory requirement of the state budgetary process. The State Prosecuting Attorney represents the state in all proceedings before the Court of Criminal Appeals and in any stage of criminal cases before state courts of appeals if the state's interests require. The office also assists district and county attorneys who are representing the state before a court of appeals and request assistance.
V.T.C.A., Government Code, Sections 42.001 and 42.005.

Arrangement: Chronological

Access Constraints: None

Use Constraints: None

Indexes or finding aids required for/or an aid to access? No

Gaps? No budget requests from 1923 through 1969 are held by the agency, the Archives, or the Publications Clearinghouse.

Problems: None

Known related records in other agencies: None

Previous destructions: Destruction requests on file in the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library were checked for the State Law Library and none were found for this series or for equivalent or related series.

Publications based on records: Legislative Budget Board, Legislative Budget Estimates, have been published since fiscal years 1954-1955. This publication, a compilation of data for all state agencies, summarizes the fiscal information found in agency-submitted budgets or appropriation requests, but omits most of the narrative.

Scheduled record series? yes
Title: Biennial Budget Requests
Series item number: 1.1.004
Agency item number: 1
Archival code: "A"
Retention: AC + 6

Recommendation: Biennial budget requests prepared by state agency boards and/or commissions provide evidence of an agency's fiscal performance needs. The State Prosecuting Attorney's retention schedule should continue to use "A" as the Archival Code for these records. The current note in the Remarks column - "Leg. Ref. Library retains permanent copies. Send required copies to the Publications Clearinghouse" - needs clarification and editing. The copy in the Legislative Reference Library is not the archival copy. The archival requirement is only fulfilled by sending copies to the Publications Clearinghouse of the Texas State Library. Delete mention of the Legislative Reference Library in this note.

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Record Series Review
Series Title: Correspondence

Agency: State Prosecuting Attorney

Dates: 1980-[ongoing]

Current total volume and dates: 1.5 cubic feet
Retained by the agency for three years after purpose served. Actual holdings are 1980-[ongoing].

Obsolete record series? No
Ongoing record series? Yes
Annual accumulation: fractional

Current Agency Location: These records are in a file drawer in the office of the records administrator.

Archival Holdings: None in the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library.

Description: The staff calls this a miscellaneous correspondence file. It is the only correspondence file maintained for the agency as a separate entity. Correspondence dates from 1980-[ongoing]. As indicated in the Remarks column of the schedule, the file is purged annually of what is considered to be the general correspondence for that year and what remains is the "research" correspondence that stays in this file indefinitely. This research correspondence is with other state agencies on internal office functions such as memos from the Comptroller's Office regarding the budget, letters from the Department of Health concerning drug testing of state employees, and letters from the State Library about records management and archival appraisal.

Correspondence related to legal cases is filed separately in the case files.

Purpose: These records are maintained primarily to document dealings with other state agencies.

Agency program: The State Prosecuting Attorney represents the state in all proceedings before the Court of Criminal Appeals and in any stage of criminal cases before state courts of appeals if the state's interests require. The office also assists district and county attorneys who are representing the state before a court of appeals and request assistance.
V.T.C.A., Government Code, Sections 42.001 and 42.005.

Arrangement: Chronological

Access Constraints: None

Use Constraints: None

Indexes or finding aids required for, or an aid to access? No

Gaps? These is no correspondence prior to 1980 held by the agency, the Archives, or the Publications Clearinghouse.

Problems: None

Known related records in other agencies: None Previous destructions: Destruction requests on file in the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library were checked for the State Prosecuting Attorney and none were found for this series or for equivalent or related series.

Publications based on records: None

Scheduled record series? yes
Title: Correspondence
Series item number: 1.1.007
Agency item number: 2
Archival code: R
Retention: PS + 3

Recommendation: While this "research" correspondence is the closest to administrative correspondence that the State Prosecuting Attorney's Office has to offer, and while overall there are few archival records available from this agency, these are not enough to justify the retention of this correspondence. This series contains correspondence relating to internal office matters, not to the program functions of the agency as the state's attorney. The research value is limited, really only of use to the staff, documenting routine dealings with other state agencies. These records do not have enough substance to merit permanent, archival retention. I am recommending that the "R" should be dropped from the retention schedule and the retention period in place be implemented.

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Record Series Review
Series Title: Strategic Plan

Agency: State Prosecuting Attorney

Dates: 1995

Current total volume and dates: fractional
Retained by agency permanently. The agency completed their first plan in 1995.

Obsolete record series? No
Ongoing record series? Yes
Annual accumulation:

Current Agency Location: These records are housed at the offices of the State Prosecuting Attorney.

Archival Holdings: None in the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library.

Archival requirement for this series is fulfilled by sending copies to the Publications Clearinghouse, Texas State Library. The Clearinghouse does not yet have any copies. Fifty-five copies of strategic plans should be sent to the Publications Clearinghouse (13 Texas Administrative Code, Section 3.3 (a) (3)).

Description: Strategic plans are long-range planning tools prepared by the agency in which the goals and objectives of the agency are presented along with performance measures for each. Plans contain a mission statement, a statement of philosophy, and external/internal assessment of the agency, and the goals of the agency. Each goal contains objectives, outcome and efficiency measures, strategies, output measures, and explanatory measures for measuring and achieving the goals. Also present in most agency strategic plans is an organization chart of the agency. The office of the State Prosecuting Attorney prepared its first plan in 1995 for the time frame of 1995-1999.

Purpose: This plan is a long-range planning tool prepared by the agency which sets forth goals and objectives of the agency over a multi-year period.

Agency program: The State Prosecuting Attorney represents the state in all proceedings before the Court of Criminal Appeals and in any stage of criminal cases before state courts of appeals of the state's interests require. The office also assists district and county attorneys who are representing the state before a court of appeals and request assistance.
V.T.C.A., Government Code, Sections 42.001 and 42.005.

Arrangement: Only one plan has been produced so an arrangement pattern is not yet in effect.

Access Constraints: None

Use Constraints: None

Indexes or finding aids required for, or an aid to access? No

Gaps? None

Problems: None

Known related records in other agencies: None

Previous destructions: Destruction requests on file in the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library were checked for the State Prosecuting Attorney and none were found for this series or for equivalent or related series.

Publications based on records: None

Scheduled record series? No
Equivalent record series? Yes
Title: Strategic Plans
Series item number: 1.1.055 [on the Texas State Records Retention Schedule]
Agency item number: To be assigned
Archival code: A
Retention: PM

Recommendation: Strategic plans document the long-range planning activities of the State Prosecuting Attorney and are considered archival. Strategic plans are not currently on the retention schedule of the State Prosecuting Attorney. Therefore, strategic plans need to be added as a new series to the schedule with an Archival Code of "A" and a retention period of "PM." The archival mandate is fulfilled by sending copies to the Publications Clearinghouse. A note also needs to be added in the Remarks column of the retention schedule - "Copies sent to the Publications Clearinghouse fulfill the archival mandate for this series."

Page last modified: August 31, 2011