State and Local Records Management

Frequently Asked Questions


Am I a State Agency or a Local Government?
State Agencies are defined in the Texas Government Code 441.180(9): "State agency" means:

(A) any department, commission, board, office, or other agency in the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of state government created by the constitution or a statute of this state, including an eleemosynary institution; (B) any university system and its components and any institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, except a public junior college, not governed by a university system board; (C) the Texas Municipal Retirement System and the Texas County and District Retirement System; and (D) any public nonprofit corporation created by the legislature whose responsibilities and authority are not limited to a geographical area less than that of the state.

Local Governments are defined in Texas Local Government Code 201.003(7) as: (7) "Local government" means a county, including all district and precinct offices of a county, municipality, public school district, appraisal district, or any other special-purpose district or authority.

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Who do I contact at State and Local Records Management for help?
Texas State Library and Archives Commission:
Agency Contact Info: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/agency/contact/index.html
State and Local Records Contact Info: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/contact/index.html
Consulting Services for State Agencies: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/state/agencylist.html
Consulting Services for Local Governments: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/local/countylist.html

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How do we get started with our records management program?
First, call a Government Information Analyst at 512-421-7200 to see what is on file for your government or state agency. If your government/agency is not in compliance, then identify the person/persons that will lead the program. Next, conduct a file inventory on all paper and electronic records. Once you understand what you have, you can properly develop a retention/control schedule to submit for Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) approval. Additionally, you will want to develop policies and procedures for all staff to follow, including a disaster recovery plan, electronic records guidelines, and disposition rules.

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How long must I keep a specific record?
Mandatory minimum retention periods are set out in the published guidelines for State Agency Records in the Texas State Records Retention Schedule and for Local Government Records in the Local Retention Schedules. If there are any federal, state, or local laws or regulations requiring longer retention periods, then particular records series must be kept for the longer period of time.
Note that: State Agencies each have approved Retention Schedules to follow. Local Governments each have approved Control Schedules or have adopted specific Local Retention Schedules.

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How do I get a copy of what’s in my file at State and Local Records Management?
Call 512-421-7200

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How do I locate and evaluate a potential commercial records management vendor?
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission does not endorse particular vendors.
We recommend sound business practices in identifying vendors and entering into contracts for services.

  • Check vendor’s references.
  • Include in contract the necessity of following Texas records management, micrographics, or electronic records standards and procedures.
  • Have your legal department review contract before entering into agreement. Perform contract oversight.
Vendors can often be identified by contacting other governments in your vicinity, records management professional organizations such as ARMA, or through Internet searches.

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What forms, publications, training, etc., are available?
Publications:





Our publications include four state bulletins (state records laws, electronic records standards and procedures, microfilming standards and procedures, and records retention schedule rules) and five local government bulletins (local government records act, electronic records standards and procedures, microfilming standards and procedures, inventorying/scheduling records and electronic filing/recording for County Clerks).





Also, there is a Records Management Manual for State Agencies available in our publications. The Records Management Manual includes many helpful chapters on the role of the Records Management Officer, electronic records, forms management, filing systems, document imaging, disaster preparedness, records center services, and final disposition. It covers the broad spectrum of activities included in records management and the records life cycle.
Publications available:


http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/recordspubs/index.html
Forms: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/recordspubs/forms/index.html
State Newsletter: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/recordspubs/staterecord/index.html
Local Newsletter: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/recordspubs/localrecord/index.html



Training:





Training classes cover topics from state records laws, retention/control schedule basics, disaster planning, electronic document imaging, forms management, improving filing systems, managing electronic records, micrographics, and records storage centers.





Training is held in Austin, Liberty and across Texas. We offer videoconferences in every region of the state. Training schedules are published every six months.
For more information, visit: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/local/classes.html

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Can SLRM provide Records Management consulting, speaking, or training outside of Austin?
Yes, our Government Information Analysts often speak to organizations and conduct training around the State of Texas. Please call (512) 421-7200 for more information.

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Do I have the most current forms and publications? Has there been an update?
The most current forms and publications are on the Texas State Library and Archives website at: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/.





Click on the Gold-tab "Services to Gov’t Agencies."





Scroll down the page to some useful links:

  • Records Management Assistance for Local Governments
  • Records Management Assistance for State Agencies
  • Records Management Publications for State Agencies and Local Governments
  • Resources for Records Managers
  • Texas State Records Retention Schedule, 3rd Edition 2005
  • Local Government Retention Schedules – 1992 to 1997 – all local government schedules are under review with revision dates expected in 2006 to 2007. Drafts are posted on our website for comment.

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Has my retention/control schedule been approved?
Contact your Government Information Analyst at (512) 421-7200.

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Records Management Links (NARA, NAGARA, ARMA, etc.)
On the Texas State Library and Archives website at: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/





Click on the Gold-tab "Services to Gov’t Agencies."





Scroll down the page to some useful links:





Resources for Records Managers

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What is the retention period of electronic mail (email)?
There is no single retention period for email. The retention of email is based on content. To determine the retention of a specific email, identify the content and consult the relevant approved retention or control schedule.

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How long should I keep computer backups?
This is a topic for discussion with your key management, legal, information systems, records management, and key personnel. Balancing the needs of your government, computer system protection, and good records management takes informed decisions on the parts of all these departments. Keeping computer backups long past records retention periods, or permanently, is costly in terms of litigation discovery, open records requests, and negates the timely disposition of records according to your records retention schedule.

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We just had a disaster (i.e., flood, fire, termites) and some of our records were damaged or lost. What do we do?
Stabilize the environment by reducing the temperature and relative humidity to maximum levels of 65 degrees and 45%, respectively. Assess the extent and nature of the damage using a damage assessment worksheet and taking photos. Recover what you can, but you may need specialized help. Identify records beyond recovery with complete, specific, and clear descriptions. For non-permanent records, create a report of damaged items and place it with your disposition log. Create a plan that outlines how to prevent damage to records in the event of a future disaster.





For Local Governments, use Form SLR 501-Request for Authority to Destroy Unscheduled Records to report damaged permanent records to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).





For State Agencies, use Form RMD 102 Authority to Dispose of State Records to report these damaged records to Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).





For more information visit our Disaster Planning and Recovery section of our website.

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Page last modified: October 26, 2010