Five Things That Break a Records Analyst’s Heart

Last year, for Valentine’s Day, two analysts in the Records Management Assistance Unit wrote an article titled: 10 Things We Love About Records Management. We wanted to acknowledge ten things that made our hearts flutter as analysts. This year, however, in honor of all the broken hearts this Valentine’s Day, let’s discuss five things that break an analyst’s heart and how our hearts can be mended!

Keeping Everything Just in Case

two people ripping paper with heart on it down the middle, creating a broken heart effect.

Some governments decide to keep everything “just in case.” Governments oftentimes believe that keeping everything is better than destroying something important, but this practice can break an analyst’s heart! Keeping everything just in case can cause your local government a host of problems, including but not limited to, longer retrieval times to locate a record, higher storage costs, and turning over a record that could have been destroyed earlier but was not.

To mend an analyst’s heart, correct this by creating and using a records retention schedule! Local governments can do this by filing the SLR 508 stating that they are following the minimum retention requirements of the Local Government retention schedules, and State Agencies can do this by sending in their Records Retention schedule every five years, or as needed through an amendment.

Not Having a Disaster Recovery Plan

Not having a disaster recovery plan is another way to break an analyst’s heart! It is not a matter of if, but when a disaster will occur, and what your government will do in the event of a disaster. Disaster recovery is important for the protection of governments essential records (or vital). Essential records allows your government entity to resume or continue operations, recreate legal and financial status, and fulfill obligations. That may seem like a lot of records, but for most local governments and state agencies, that’s about 5 percent of records that local government and state agencies hold. Take a look at these disaster recovery resources for your needs:

Not Having a Disposition Log

Blue sad face

Disposition logs are very important in a local government or state agency program. In fact, it is required by law for state agencies to document disposition! Documenting disposition proves that your government is running a smooth records management program and documents are being destroyed in a lawful and consistent manner. For local governments in particular, not having a disposition log is a recipe for breaking an analyst’s heart this Valentine’s Day, and we know you do not want to do that! The way to mend our hearts is to create and use a disposition log. In fact, we have a sample disposition log available on our website! Please keep in mind, elements of a disposition log should include:

  • Records series title
  • Dates of record
  • Date of disposition
  • How the record was disposed
  • Approval signatures.

Please see our article FAQ: Why Use a Disposition Log? For more information!

Not Having an Email Filing Plan

We know that emails can be overwhelming to contain. Even the best records analyst can have an overflow of emails in their inbox. Especially when you have been in your career for years! The best way to begin to take control of your emails is to create folders according to the records retention plan in your government. For example, if not working in a leadership position, it is likely that the emails you send to your colleague will fall under the following: (Note: Your internal government policy may have this retention series increased.)

*GR1000-26bCORRESPONDENCE,  INTERNAL MEMORANDA, AND SUBJECT FILESGeneral – Incoming/outgoing and internal correspondence pertaining to the regular operation of the policies, programs, services, or projects of a local government. May also include subject files, which are collections of correspondence, memos and printed materials on various individuals, activities, and topics. 2 years.Retention Note: Records management officers should use caution before disposal of these records to ensure the records should not be classified under administrative correspondence (GR1000-26a).

You can create a general correspondence folder, then create subfolders (within the general correspondence folder) of years. Once completed, you can sort correspondence in your inbox in accordance with the years the emails were sent and/or received. It may look something like this:

Folder with title and subfolders with years.

Ultimately, you want to start small. Like we always say at our trainings: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” It will take more than one day to complete. Try sorting your email at the end of the day when you do not want to begin new projects, or whenever there is a lull in your day. Soon, you will have a clean and functional inbox!

Take a look at the Email Management Webinar Series that analyst Anne Polus just completed! This series goes in-depth on how to manage emails in your government.

Not Being in Compliance

Red heart broken in center.

The last topic that breaks an analyst’s heart is not being in compliance! Being in compliance with the Local Government Records Act, or the Government Code for state agencies, is an important step when building your records management program for your government. For non-elected local governments, signing the SLR 504, SLR 508 and sending in a policy with governing body approval is required for compliance. While for elected local government, completing the SLR 512 (which is an all-in-one document encompassing the 504, 508, and policy) is needed to be in compliance with the Local Government Records Act. State Agencies are required to submit their records retention schedule roughly every five years and can submit an amendment when necessary. Being in compliance lifts our hearts every day we receive compliance documents in our mailbox! We love knowing that local governments and state agencies are actively maintaining a records management program.

For State Agencies, take a look at this webinar: State Agency Recertification 101 that discusses the process of becoming compliant the with Government Code.

Do you know if your local government is in compliance with the Local Government Records Act? If not, check out this article: FAQ: Are We In Compliance? for more specific information on how to be in compliance with the Local Government Records Act

How to Mend Our Broken Hearts

The ways to mend an analyst’s heart is easy, and taking the steps above is a fantastic way to start. Establishing and maintaining a proper records management program will make any analyst fall in love with your government! As always, contact us if you have questions concerning any of the topics above or more! Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

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