What needs to be addressed in an E-Records Management Policy

Recently, many questions have been raised about how to establish a electronic records (e-records) management policy. One of the main questions we’ve received is what is covered within an e-records management policy.

An e-records management policy enhances the organization’s policy on information management and storage.  A well-crafted policy should address the following:

  • Specify which e-records are covered.  E-records should be grouped into “types” or “series” specified either by referencing the activity that created them, such as vehicle registration, public assistance case files, accounting data, etc. Some records will be more critical for state agency or local government operations. More than likely, these records will be needed for legal actions or will place the agency or office at risk if the access to these records is lost. These records should be afforded more management attention and a higher level of protection. The Texas State Library & Archive Commission (TSLAC) retention schedules provide guidance in determining record series.
  • Establish standards for file formats.  Policy should designate approved data file formats for each record “type”. All information stored on a computer system requires software for retrieval and display. This software is subject to change, either by implementation of new releases, or by changes to operating systems or hardware. A policy of approved media formats for records will facilitate data migration to ensure long-term retrieval of e-records. In addition, since state agencies will be transferring their archival records to TSLAC, the policy needs to mandate certain records to remain in their current formats to allow for an easier transition to the Archives.
  • Define responsibilities for information management functions.  An effective e-records policy needs to define responsibilities for implementing its various components. In the case of e-records, responsibilities will often be shared between program and technical staff, as well as staff specifically assigned to records management functions.
  • Define procedures for the storage and management of e-records to ensure access for the full length of their retention period.  Your policy should have procedures in place to guarantee the system which created the records performs in an accurate, reliable, and consistent manner in the normal course of business. In order for normalcy within the agency or office to be maintained, the following areas need to be addressed in detail:
    • Contingency plan that includes data backup, disaster recovery, and emergency operations
    • Controls for the accuracy and timeliness of input/output of systems
    • Media controls of the storage of the data
    • Routine backups of software and data

Your e-records policy should account for TSLAC’s e-records standards and procedures, outlined in Bulletin 1 (State Agency Bulletins) and Bulletin B (Local Government Bulletins).

The following links contain additional tips and requirements of creating an e-records management policy:

  1. https://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/policy/requirements-guidance.html
  2. http://www.hni.com/blog/bid/75703/creating-a-policy-for-electronic-records-management

In addition, the links below contain some examples of e-records management policies:

  1. http://dos.myflorida.com/media/31109/electronicrecordsmanagementpractices.pdf
  2. http://archives.delaware.gov/govsvcs/pdfs/Records%20Policies/Model%20Guidelines.pdf
  3. http://naa.gov.au/information-management/information-governance/governance-framework/information-policy/index.aspx

Comment below to share your experiences— successful and challenging— in developing your own e-records management policy.

5 thoughts on “What needs to be addressed in an E-Records Management Policy

  1. Is there any hope of revising Bulletin B any time soon? Year 1998 seems a lifetime away with regard to electronic records!

  2. Thomas, We are currently revising Bulletin 1. These revisions should be completed this year. Once the revisions for Bulletin 1 are completed, then we will focus on the revisions for Bulletin B.

  3. Benjamin:
    Do you know if there is any information available on success stories with legacy media retention (e.g. floppy disks, VHS, etc.) Unfortunately, there are no plans to “… facilitate data migration to ensure long-term retrieval…” We are obliged to maintain the legacy hardware but nobody seems to have any of that old equipment. We have volumes of 5¼-inch “cocktail napkin” floppy disks, 3½-inch “shirt pocket” not-so floppy disks, not to mention VHS, cassettes, iOmega proprietary disks, etc. Upon discovery, I glibbed that I had not seen those since my hair was still brown. There are some USB connectable external drives available, but few and far between:-(

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