A records management program or question can quickly transform from a minor and simple thought to an overwhelming and large-scale issue. Can this record be destroyed? Does our office comply with the records management rules and laws? How do we implement our records management program? We’re here to assist with those issues.
The Records Management Assistance (RMA) team at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is a group of Government Information Analysts (GIA) who assist local governments and state agencies with records management rules and best practices. To further explain who we are it may be more adequate to explain some things your office’s records management program needs and how we relate to those requirements. Some of these requirements consist of getting and remaining in compliance with records management laws and rules through various forms submitted to our agency and understanding where to find records management assistance to clarify your questions.
Records Management Laws and Rules
The Texas Legislature establishes records management laws and rules that local government and state agencies must comply with and follow. These laws and rules create uniform records management standards to ensure government operations run efficiently and important information is preserved.
Your office must first comply with the records management laws and rules to follow the applicable records retention schedule. Your office is required to submit various forms to TSLAC. What forms must be submitted will be based on whether your office is a local government or state agency. This is where your GIA can benefit you. If you’re not sure what forms your office has on file with TSLAC, contact your GIA. They will be able to tell you exactly what your office has on file.
Designation of Records Management Officer (RMO): One part of compliance is designating your office’s Records Management Officer. Every local government and state agency has a Records Management Officer (RMO). The RMO may not physically manage the office’s records, but they are responsible for proper management of the records that the office creates and/or manages. The RMA team works with the RMO to ensure the office is compliant. “What does it take to be a Records Management Officer?” may help you better understand the RMO role.
Pertaining specifically to the RMO designation is Bulletin D: Local Government Records Act for elected officials and non-elected officials within local governments and Bulletin 4: State Records Management Laws (Sec. 441.184) for state agencies.
Records Retention Schedules
Records retention schedules are a critical resource our office shares with your office. Records retention schedules may be summarized as a layout of information that explains how long your office needs to keep specific records.
- For local governments, TSLAC publishes and maintains twelve Local Governments Retention Schedules.
- For state agencies, your office’s RMO works with us to devise a schedule that effectively addresses all records the agency creates and/or maintains. State agency retention schedules are compared to the State Records Retention Schedule (RRS) or the Texas State University Records Retention Schedule (URRS) to ensure established minimum requirements are met.
Within the records retention schedules are various record series. A records series includes a unique identification number, a description of the types of records that fall into the records series, and the record’s retention period. Retention periods tell you the minimum length of time your office is required to keep that specific record. The records series may include any important notes associated with those type of records.
|Unique #||Brief Description||Further Description||Retention Period||Notes|
|GR1025-30c||LEDGERS, JOURNALS, AND ENTRY DOCUMENTATION||Receipt, disbursement, general, or subsidiary journals.||FE + 5 years.||Retention Note: Review before disposal; some journals may merit PERMANENT retention for historical reasons.|
Some records series may be straightforward, while others may have RMOs left questioning. Again, that’s what we’re here for. Your GIA will be able to recommend an appropriate records series and address any further questions you may have.
Records retention schedules requirements are established in Bulletin D: Local Government Records Act, Subchapter C for local governments. and Bulletin 4: State Records Management Laws (Sec. 441.185) for state agencies.
Records Management Resources
Networking: The RMA team assists 10,000 local governments and 150 state agencies. That is a lot of networking possibilities! Some local governments and state agencies connect with their GIA to find others who have implemented a records management process like the one they are currently brainstorming.
For more ways to connect with individuals in a records management role and explore records management topics check out these organizations that provide interactive trainings and resources: ARMA International, National Association of Government Archives & Records Administrators (NAGARA), and Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM). TSLAC teams up with Texas Department of Information (DIR) every year to provide our own eRecords Conference with sessions that address specific Texas government records management topics.
Simplification and chance for your input: The RMA team closely follows records management developments on a federal and state level. We use these updates to draft revisions to ensure our resources are current, relevant, and accurate. For example, this past year, 2020, we made the following updates:
- At the beginning of 2020, the steps for elected officials to comply with the Local Government Records Act were simplified from three forms to one: the SLR 512.
- In March 2020, local Schedule EL: Records of Elections and Voter Registration was updated. Our team researched suggested revisions compiled from consulting and correspondence with local governments who work directly with the records. Then we incorporated them into updated material for presentation to our commission for review and approval.
- In May 2020, after months of work group review and research, the State Records Retention Schedule (RRS) received an update from the 4th to the 5th edition.
These updates are not static. As mentioned, local governments and state agencies submit their feedback to us. We prioritize and examine the feedback to ensure revisions are realistic and achievable. These updates and calls for feedback are posted to our blog, The Texas Record.
Training: This year our team evolved from in-person training to delivering more on-demand webinars and live sessions followed by Q&A. To request tailored training, contact our manager for more information mcarey @ tsl.texas.gov or calling 512-463-5449.