Introducing the New and Improved Bulletin B!

On August 31, 2021, the newest edition of 13 TAC §7, otherwise known as Bulletin B, will go live! The updates to 13 TAC §7 are adopted as an administrative rule of the Commission—and are located in the Texas Register. For local governments, this means that all previous versions of 13 TAC §7 will be obsolete, and we recommend your organization accesses the updated rules in order to follow the most updated version of Bulletin B. Below is a list of changes made, as well as what was removed from Bulletin B.

What’s new with Bulletin B?

Overall, the new Bulletin B has been restructured with sections combined and language simplified to make it easier for local governments to comply with the requirements. These changes also bring our administrative rules related to electronic records standards and procedures for state agencies and local governments into more alignment. Most of the requirements you recognize from the previous version of Bulletin B still exist in the new rules.

Section What is new?
7.71 Definitions We defined new and previously undefined words in the rules to better guide the standards and procedures for managing electronic records and storage. New terms include those related to minimum requirements for managing electronic records—authenticity, integrity, reliability, and usability—third-party custodians, and metadata, an important and previously unaddressed part of electronic records management.
7.72 General This section now clarifies that the administrative rules should be considered best practices for electronic records with retention periods of less than 10 years.
7.73 Policies and Procedures This is a new section in the rules, which adds context to the requirement to establish a records management program with policies and procedures for managing records as required by Local Government Code Chapter 203.

New sections were added based on the interpretation of Local Government Code 441.169.
7.74 Minimum Requirements for all Electronic Records This is a new section in the rules, which restates more specific requirements featured throughout the rules; they are general to allow Records Management Officers (RMOs) latitude in determining how to implement minimum requirements.
7.75 Security of Electronic RecordsThis section has been updated to allow local governments more latitude in protecting the security of their electronic records.
7.76 Maintenance of Electronic Storage MediaThis section was updated with more applicable terms for ensuring records and information are properly maintained. Additional updates to this section allow local governments more latitude in approaching the maintenance of electronic storage media focusing on the characteristics of properly managed records instead of the specific strategies.

Notably, the required visual quality control representative sample of scanned images is now 10% of total images instead of 100%.
7.77 Minimum Requirements for all Electronic Storage Systems This new section combines requirements related to electronic storage systems previously existing under separate sections.
7.78 Destruction of Electronic RecordsThis section has been updated to allow for alternative methods of expunging information from WORM electronic storage media and simplify the explanation of requirements related to destruction of electronic records.

What’s Missing from the Updated 13 TAC §7?

In summary, more specific sections in 13 TAC §7 have been updated to be more generalized. This gives local governments the ability to maintain their records in a manner that is less burdensome and more financially feasible. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list. Information in the following sections were removed:

Section What was removed?Why was it removed?
7.71 DefinitionsTerms were removed These terms are no longer used within 13 TAC §7.
7.72 General Previous 7.72(c) was removed Local governments must manage records no matter in which format they exist. The acknowledgement of these administrative rules is included in the compliance paperwork local governments submit to TSLAC.
7.73 Creation and Use of Data Files Previous section was removed in its entiretyPertinent/necessary requirements were moved to and condensed under new section 7.77 Minimum Requirements for all Electronic Records Systems.
7.74 Minimum Requirements for all Electronic RecordsPrevious section was removed in its entiretyPertinent/necessary requirements were moved to and condensed under new section 7.77 Minimum Requirements for all Electronic Records Systems.
7.75 Security of Electronic Records Previous 7.75(a)(5) was removed;
7.75(b) language updated
The requirement for documentation that similar kinds of records be created and retrieved in a standardized method was removed.
The requirement to store backups in a separate building was removed due to specificity. The requirement of “separate location” is broader and does not burden smaller local governments who may not have multiple buildings.
7.76 Maintenance of Electronic Storage Media Duplicative words and more specific requirements were removed from this section. Specific recopying requirements were replaced with more general requirements that will ensure records are maintained appropriately and remain available for the full retention period.
7.77. Retention of Electronic RecordsPrevious section was removed in its entirety The content of this section was already addressed throughout the rules, particularly with the addition of the new 7.73 Policies and Procedures.
7.78 Destruction of Electronic Records Section (c)(2)-(3) were removedThe requirements of this section are appropriately explained in 7.78(c). Section (c)(2)-(3) were removed to eliminate redundancy.
7.79 Public Access to Electronic Records Previous section was removed in its entirety This section has been incorporated into the new 7.77 Minimum Requirements for all Electronic Records Systems.

What Does This Mean for You?

Most likely, the records management policies your local government has adopted will not need to change. Bulletin B affords local governments the latitude to maintain their records without overly specific requirements that could pose a burden. With the broadening of the administrative rules, local governments have the ability to maintain their records in a responsible way that works for them. The updated Bulletin B is located on our website. As always, our analysts are here to help with any questions you may have about the new and improved Bulletin B. Happy reading!

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