Records Management Officer
Updated June 1998
Each agency head is responsible for the proper management of state records as outlined in Texas Government Code §441.183, "Records Management Programs in State Agencies."
The agency head of each state agency shall:
1) establish and maintain a records management program on a continuing and active basis;
2) create and maintain records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures and essential transactions of the agency designed to furnish information to protect the financial and legal rights of the state and any person affected by the activities of the agency;
3) make certain that all records of the agency are passed to the agency head's successor in the position of agency head;
4) identify and take adequate steps to protect confidential and vital state records;
5) cooperate with the commission in the conduct of state agency records management surveys; and
6) cooperate with the commission, the director and librarian, and any other authorized designee of the director and librarian in fulfilling their duties under this subchapter.
In addition, the following statutory provisions are specified in §441.184 for records management officers.
A) Each state agency head shall act as or appoint a record's management officer for the state agency to administer the agency's records management program.
B) The records management officer for each state agency shall:
1) administer the records management program established under §441.183.
2) assist the agency head in fulfilling all of the agency head's duties under this subchapter and rules adopted under this subchapter.
3) disseminate to employees of the agency information concerning the state laws, administrative rules, and agency policies and procedures relating to the management of state records; and
4) fulfill all duties required of records management officers under this subchapter and rules adopted under this subchapter.
C) A records management officer designated under this section continues to serve in that capacity until:
1) the officer ceases employment with the state agency;
2) the agency head chooses to act as the records management officer for the agency; or
3) the agency head appoints another person as the records management officer.
The records management officer acts as a liaison between the agency and the State and Local Records Management Division.
This person is the representative of the agency in all issues of responsibility for records management policy and statutory compliance. The agency head determines who is most qualified to be the records management officer and how the responsibilities are to be distributed within the agency. The State and Local Records Management Division relies on the head of the agency to confirm the appointment in writing and then directs all publications and correspondence to the designated records management officer.
An agency director may change the appointment at any time by writing the division and naming a new records management officer. The division maintains a file of current records management officers of all agencies.
As viewed by the State and Local Records Management Division, the role of the records management officer is to control records activity within the agency which includes the following functions:
- Administer the records management program within the agency.
- Conduct or oversee the inventory of all agency records.
- Conduct or oversee the preparation and maintenance of the agency records retention schedule.
- Protect confidential and vital records.
- Manage records within the agency during active use.
- Approve all documentation for transfer of records to the State Records Center.
- Approve all requests to dispose of state records.
- Attend training and information classes offered by the State and Local Records Management Division and coordinate records management training for agency staff, as needed.
To be in compliance with the Texas Government Code, an agency must have a records management program, specifically "on a continuing and active basis." The records management officer ensures that agency procedures are documented, that policies of the agency and of the State and Local Records Management Division are carried out, and that members of the agency are kept aware of the program and its developments.
If an agency does not yet have a records management program, the agency head or designated records management officer is responsible for setting up the program. The State and Local Records Management Division can help with this process by offering both advice and records management training.
State statutes specify that a records inventory must be carried out in each agency. According to Texas Government Code §441.185, "Each records management officer, with the cooperation of any staff of a state agency that the officer considers necessary, shall survey the state records of the agency and prepare and submit a records retention schedule to the state records administrator. "The records inventory is a listing of all records series created and maintained by an agency and is conducted prior to the development of the retention schedule. The inventory includes data such as records series titles, descriptions of contents, record medium, arrangement, volume, vital record status, retention period, etc.
The records retention schedule is the document, required by §441.185, that lists the agency's records and establishes the retention period for each records series including the length of time the records will be maintained in the agency offices and inactive storage before final disposition. The schedule shows the security status of the records (open or confidential), designates records that have archival value, verifies the record medium, and identifies vital records. The Form SLR 105, Records Retention Schedule, is the mandatory for designated for all agency records retention schedules. The form can be obtained from the State and Local Records Management Division.
The records management officer conducts or oversees the preparation of this retention schedule based on data gathered during the records inventory and on other factors such as legal retention requirements and agency directives regarding retention. The records management officer is responsible for submitting the retention schedule to the State and Local Records Management Division and keeping records management information current by amending the schedule as needed.
The records management officer distributes the retention schedule or otherwise makes the information available within the agency. No changes or deviations from the schedule are to be made without the records management officer's approval. In addition to coordinating compliance throughout the agency for maintenance of records for the approved retention period, the records management officer has a very important function to ensure that records listed on the schedule are handled appropriately according to their security status and value as vital records.
Section 441.180 defines a confidential state record as "anystate record to which public access is or may be restricted or denied under Chapter 552 or other state or federal law." Open records must be made accessible to the public according to legal requirements and confidential records must be protected from unauthorized access. For records in storage at the State Records Center, the agency retains ownership of the records and the records management officer is responsible for coordinating retrieval of records from storage.
A vital state record, as defined in §441.180, is any state record necessary to:
A) the resumption or continuation of state agency operations in an emergency or disaster;
B) the re-creation of the legal and financial status of the agency; and
C) the protection and fulfillment of obligations to the people of the state.
Identifying and taking adequate steps to protect both confidential and vital records is one of the basic requirements of an agency records management program, as outlined in §441.183(4) and the records management officer is responsible for implementing these requirements.
Confidential and vital records are identified during the inventory and scheduling process. The records management officer must work with agency staff to ensure that confidential records are disposed of in a manner that protects the information from disclosure. Vital records may be protected by a variety of strategies according to the particular agency situation.
The records management program is defined in §441.180(7) as the application of management techniques to improve the efficiency of recordkeeping in the agency including "the management of filing and information retrieval systems in an media" and "the control over the creation and distribution of forms, reports, and correspondence."
The records management officer coordinates the transfer of records to the State Records Center. These are the basic steps involved:
1) The records management officer gives approval, based on the agency records retention schedule, for the transfer of records from the originating agency to the State Records Center. The records management officer is responsible for ensuring that a Form RMD 106, Records Center Storage Approval Form, has been submitted to the State and Local Records Management Division for each records series to be transferred. (This form is required only for the initial transfer of each records series.)
2) Agency staff complete the e101 Transmittal Request (https://www.tsl.texas.gov/apps/slrm/e101/index.php) each time a shipment of records is ready for transfer to the State Records Center.
3) The records management officer responds to any questions that the State and Local Records Management Division staff may have regarding the transfer.
4) Working with the State and Local Records Management Division staff, the records management officer coordinates the physical transfer of the records to the State Records Center.
The records management officer maintains on file copies of the RMD 106s and the RMD 101 Transmittals returned to the agency by the State and Local Records Management Division upon approval.
No state records may be destroyed without permission from the state as outlined in Texas Government Code §441.187, "Destruction of State Records."
The agency records management officer reviews the agency's approved records retention schedule periodically, as specified by agency procedures, to determine which records are eligible for final disposition. If the records retention schedule has not yet been approved or the records are not listed on the schedule, the records management officer must submit and receive approval for final disposition of records on the Form RMD 102, Request for Authority to Dispose of State Records, before the records can be destroyed.
An approved agency retention schedule alleviates the need for the use of the Form RMD 102 for the records listed on the schedule.
When an agency records management officer is appointed, a consultant from the State and Local Records Management Division contacts the records management officer to provide the division's schedule of training classes.
The first training recommended for new records management officers is a class that reviews what is required by law of records management officers; updates changes in laws, emerging trends, issues, and procedures affecting records management; and a tour of the State Records Center.
Since the records management officer is the liaison between the originating agency and the State and Local Records Management Division, it is important to establish an ongoing relationship between the two. After the initial training, the division offers periodic classes in other records management topics such as inventorying and scheduling state records, using the approved retention schedule to manage files, forms management, filing systems, disaster recovery planning, records center procedures, managing electronic records, micrographics, and electronic document imaging.
The records management officer and agency staff who assist with records management tasks are encouraged to attend. These classes are intended to be a direct help to the records management officer and to support the officer's efforts to "disseminate to employees of the agency information concerning state laws, administrative rules, and agency policies and procedures relating to the management of state records" as required by §441.184(b)(3).
Training at the State and Local Records Management Division is a good way for state employees to improve records management skills and meet with staff from other agencies to share recordkeeping information. The division may also arrange for training specific to an agency, depending upon a request from the agency and availability of staff resources.
In addition to the statutory requirements and the guidelines set forth by the State and Local Records Management Division, the many other duties of the records management officer may include:
- Conducting automation studies.
- Conducting cost/benefit studies of records management activities.
- Managing imaging projects, utilizing either micrographics or electronic imaging technologies.
- Conducting internal training
- Overseeing storage and retrieval equipment procurement.
These activities and responsibilities of the records management officer vary depending on the organization and resources of each agency.