eRecords 2018: Panel Discussions on Preservation and Protecting the Bits

At the eRecords Conference, a diverse group of RMOs and records managers from the State Agency Coordinating Committee (SACC) Records Management Subcommittee joined up to have a conversation about how they are tackling records management issues and preservation in their respective agencies. Moderator Christi Brisky from the Department of Information Resources was joined by panelists Karol Davidson of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Sarah Hendricks of the Department of Public Safety, Jenny Singer of Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and Wayne Whyte of the Texas Department of Transportation to discuss the challenges and successes of their RM efforts in their agencies.

The first thing discussed what was the SACC Records Subcommittee actually is.  This subcommittee exists to provide subject matter expertise and advice to SACC regarding issues of records management, as well as provides a forum to education and information sharing among agencies.  Then the group dug in to the discussion by having Ms. Brisky asking panelist what has happened in their agencies that drove support for records management.  Ms. Singer talked about how an unexpected data breach presented the opportunity for them to arrange for more centralized executive support and IT upgrades.  Ms. Hendricks talked about how an internal audit showed they were keeping records far past the retention period and had trouble with convenience copies, and they were able to secure executive support after presenting a plan to address the audit issues.

The group also spoke about the need for support with training, how to create metrics to measure success, and using other divisions resources to build RM throughout an agency.  Ms. Davidson found that once an audit found deficiencies, it got them buy in from the executive team to develop policies and training for e-records.  Mr. Whyte found that what gets measured, gets done, so he aligned RM metrics to the strategic goals of the agency to show how RM practices help the agency achieve success.  Ms. Singer found that managing records is really about managing the people who manage records.  They closed the panel by encouraging the audience to find their champions in their agency and use them to build the program.

In the afternoon, Mark Myers, Senior Electronic Records Specialist with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, presented on how to retain the autheticity, reliability, integrity, and usability of electronic records through digital preservation.  Regardless of whether your records are short term (0-5 years), medium term (5-10 years), or long term (10+ years), at some point, all electronic records will have to migrate.  However, we have to deal with the challenges of technological dependency, technical obsolescence, and media deterioration.  The biggest preservation challenge is cost, but unless that cost is undertaken, the result could be many “dead” records that cannot be accessed or read.  Start before obsolescence has set in to have a better chance at preserving your records for the future.

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