The State Record
A Semi-Annual Newsletter of the
State and Local Records Management Division
Is Your Records Management Program
On the Outside Looking In
Records management has traditionally been a passive discipline. Many directors picture it as mundane, a secondary part of the agency's function. Because of this, records management programs have not received the level of attention they require. The result of this laissez-faire approach can detach records management functions from the cultural mainstream of an agency. This organizational culture is the integrated operational pattern of an agency and includes routine daily activities and anticipated patterns of behavior which go almost unnoticed.
A records management program may be on the outside looking in or worse, is not part of the agency's organizational cultural pattern. Here are characteristics that illustrate this:
Nobody Seems to Listen: The records management officer's (RMO) good ideas are ignored, or not taken seriously even though records management is dynamic, requiring agency-wide cooperation in order to move forward with new and cost- effective methods.
The RMO Has No Input and Is Not Involved in Strategic Planning: The RMO is excluded from the operational process, thus managers and staff miss important aspects of records management that can help, or stymie, a government agency.
The RMO Is Not Consulted: Staff take it upon themselves to promote records management procedures without consulting the RMO. Events related to records management suddenly appear as "done deals." Activities such as purchasing new filing equipment or new software to manage records, without coordination with the RMO, offer questionable success.
Procedures in Place, But Not Followed: Records management procedures are routinely ignored; they grow old and accumulate dust as no one pays attention to them.
A Lack of Communication and Guidelines: Pitfalls in having no written records plans are numerous. New and current staff must guess about guidelines for handling records. The agency sometimes finds that previous employees had their own filing systems, which now no one can decipher. The staff is reduced to inventing procedures only to find the same procedures may have been tried and discarded years before. Management must understand that a well-written and fully utilized records management policy and procedure manual can promote an agency's efficiency.
The symptoms just noted can be part of any agency's operational culture. Consider your agency. With the examples in mind, let us review guidelines that help the records management program become a fully involved part of the organizational culture.
Program Survey: The RMO must conduct an initial survey to determine the status of the records management program. Is it stagnant, or is it non-existent? Must the program start anew? The RMO should have a clear vision of where the program needs to go and the procedures required to make it happen. This means the RMO must be proactive and instrumental in developing records management procedures. The agency head must also actively promote the program, thus gaining cooperation from the entire agency staff.
Getting the Attention of All Levels of the Agency: Involvement must begin at the top. After the initial program survey, request an opportunity to present your records management objectives to the highest level. The presentation should be a convincing demonstration of the value and importance of a good records management program. This includes time and cost savings by purging unnecessary files and developing efficient filing and retrieval procedures. This will enhance agency performance and positively influence the agency's mission. The goal is to provide your agency head with a good overview of objectives, actively seek their advice and use their input to enhance the program.
Cooperation Is Important: Work with the entire staff to ensure all departments and management are coordinated and exercise sound techniques of records and document management. Interface with staff to assure they have adapted to the new processes and note changes that may be needed. Recognize and reward good performance and provide massive doses of help to those in need. Keep top and middle managers aware of the progress. Get responses through surveys. When problems arise, look at multiple solutions; these may even include special one-on-one assistance to clear any misunderstandings.
Make Ongoing Adjustments: Establish a built-in process of providing training to records users and submit either quarterly or semi-annual presentations to management. Management always appreciates information that enhances operations.
The RMO must be an equal partner in agency operations. Records management programs must be well organized before they can operate effectively in the present and evolve to the more technical systems of the future. The effective RMO, to be successful, must ensure that the records management program is a viable part of their agency's organizational culture.
by Ramon Noches, Government Records Consultant
and Steve Drake, Government Records Consultant
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Electronic Records Standards
and Procedures Revised
Revised administrative rules for the management of electronic records (TAC 6.91-6.96) were adopted by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) on December 6, 2000. The previous versions of the Electronic Records Standards and Procedures (TAC ��6.91 - 6.99) have been in effect since March 1993 and were revised in 1995. The rules were intended to accomplish three purposes:
1) ensure the accessibility of information in electronic format for the duration of the approved retention period;
2) ensure the archival preservation of historical information; and
3) promote efficient, cost-effective records management programs.
In addition to these primary goals, the electronic records rules allow state agencies to make maximum use of automated technology while following prudent records management principles. The rules cover areas of electronic records management such as the creation and use of text and data files, security of electronic records, maintenance of electronic records storage media, retention of electronic records and destruction of electronic records.
The previous versions of the rules applied to all electronic records of state agencies that had an approved retention period of ten years or more on an agency retention schedule or the State of Texas Records Retention Schedule. This included records identified as having archival value, regardless of their retention in the agency. State records that had archival value and that were scheduled to be preserved at the State Archives were to be transferred on paper or microfilm. In addition, if the record copy was maintained on paper or microfilm and the electronic copy was used only as a temporary convenience copy, the rules did not apply.
The explosive growth of electronic records and the increased usage of electronic mail (e-mail) systems in Texas government have provided the impetus for needed revisions to the electronic records rules. It has become increasingly apparent that government officials need to take steps to develop policies and procedures that ensure records created or received on e-mail systems are managed according to the requirements of the law. Beginning in 1994, TSLAC staff began monitoring the federal rule-making process to evaluate the possibility of adopting similar e-mail guidelines for Texas government records. Further action on this was delayed until litigation concerning the federal e-mail rules could be resolved.
In 1995, the Records Management Interagency Coordinating Council (RMICC) was established by Senate Bill 366 of the 74th Legislature. Its initial mandate was to review and study records management issues in state government and to recommend legislation to the governor and the legislature. During the 75th Legislative session, RMICC's responsibilities were expanded to implement Senate Bill 897, which required RMICC to study the challenges introduced by electronic records to the management of state records and to public access to government information. The Electronic Records Research Committee (ERRC) was appointed for this purpose. After researching and discussing the issues, the ERRC presented its recommendations to the main committee. One major recommendation was that the State Library should amend its rules for managing electronic records to apply to all electronic records, not just to records with archival value or with a retention values of ten years or more. Another recommendation was that the option to substitute a paper copy for an electronic state record be removed from the rules, because automated information has the advantage of additional functionality that is not available in a paper copy. Examples include databases, spreadsheets, web publications. ERRC also recommended that records retention requirements be implemented in all new information systems developed or acquired.
Beginning in 1997, TSLAC staff began drafting revisions to the electronic rules. The intent was to clarify the language and to reorganize the rules to allow state agencies to more easily interpret and apply the new rules. In addition, recommendations made by RMICC were implemented in the new draft. Informal comments were solicited from state agency Records Management Officers, Information Resource Managers and other interested parties. Meetings were held with numerous state agencies concerning the language and intent of the rules. On April 28, 2000, RMICC approved the final draft of the proposed electronic records rules. The proposed rules were approved by the Commission to be placed in the Texas Register for public comment and were adopted as administrative rules on December 6, 2000.
Some of the more substantive revisions to the rules are as follows. The ten-year retention requirement for applicability of the electronic rules has been removed. The rules will now apply to all electronic state records, regardless of retention. An electronic state record is information maintained in electronic format that is created or received by or on behalf of a state agency or an elected state official that documents activities in the conduct of state business or use of public resources. The option to substitute paper copies for electronic state records, explicitly stated in the previous version of the rules, has been removed. It should be noted however, that agencies still make the determination as to what media to use for their records. Agencies have the right to choose whatever formats best suits their needs, but if the official electronic state record is maintained electronically, the rules must be followed. Electronic records systems developed or acquired by a state agency, after the effective date of the rules, must have the capability for preserving any electronic state record resident in the system for its full retention period; or, there must not be any system impediments that prevent migrating the record to another electronic records system, in as complete a form as possible.
Another addition to the rules is that electronic mail (e-mail) systems developed or acquired after the effective date of the rules must retain some of the transmission data, such as the name of the sender and addressee and the date/time the message was sent. Agencies that use e-mail systems that identify users by codes or nicknames must instruct staff on how to retain names on directories to ensure identification of the sender and addressees of the messages. Guidelines must be established by the agency for the appropriate retention of receipt confirmation of messages if applicable. The organization and disposition of e-mail in accordance with an approved retention schedule is required, as is the establishment of guidelines to enable staff to determine if e-mail is transitory.
Electronic state records that have archival value must now be maintained by the creating agency, except as otherwise determined by the state archivist. They must be maintained through hardware and software migrations and upgrades as authentic evidence of the state's business in an accessible and searchable form.
One of the most significant aspects of the electronic records standards and procedures is that it is technology-neutral and does not require the use of a particular technology for managing and maintaining electronic records. This is in keeping with other national laws currently being adopted in the United States (for example, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and the Electronic Signatures in National and Global E-Commerce Act). The technology-neutral approach makes sense because technology-specific rules can easily become outdated with rapid changes in computer technology. However, it places the responsibility of managing and maintaining electronic state records on the state agencies. Agencies will have the opportunity and responsibility to determine and implement the technologies that will best enable the agencies to carry out their public services.
The new rules can be found at: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/recordspubs/stbull01.html
by Tim Nolan, Program Planning and Research Specialist
Biennial Report, Records Management Interagency Coordinating Committee, 1997-1998.
Electronic Records Research Report, RMICC, November 1, 1999.
RMD Technical Bulletin, Number 11, TSLAC, April 1993.
RMD Technical Bulletin, Number 15, TSLAC, December 1994.
Records Management Forms Now Online
Many of the commonly used Records Management forms are now on the Texas State Library web site. You can download them at: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/recordspubs/forms/
These forms are available for download in both Microsoft Word format and in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). If you are looking for a form to use as a template, most of the MS Word versions have fill-in blanks for quick and easy completion.
Forms currently available are SLR 104, 105, and 105c and RMD 102, 103, and 106. If there is a publication or form that you would like to see available for download, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
Feel free to download and print these forms as needed, but please remember that even though many of these forms may be filled out electronically, you MUST send in a paper copy in order for us to obtain a signature.
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New Staff Join Records Management Assistance
Four new staff members have joined SLRM's Records Management Assistance recently. We are pleased to welcome them to our team.
Angela Taylor joined us as the Publications Specialist in August. She holds a B.A. in Communication from St. Edward's University. A native Austinite, Angela has created newsletters and maintained a web site for the Austin American-Statesman's Homework-Helpline and, most recently, designed the visual elements of a training academy for Roy H. Williams Marketing. Angela and her husband, Russell, celebrated their first anniversary on December 12th, and they are busy settling into their new house in South Austin. Russell is a GIS Analyst for Cook-Hurlbert. As our new Publications Specialist, Angela assumes the duties of publication and web site design. Feel free to e-mail her at email@example.com.
Three new staff members join us as Government Records Consultants:
In September we gained Steve Drake, originally from San Antonio. Steve graduated with a Masters in History from UTSA. His concentration is World War II, European Theater, and the early Cold War, 1945-1955, and his thesis covered Harry S. Truman's foreign diplomacy during his first 120 days as president, after the untimely death of Franklin Roosevelt in April 1945. Steve worked as a graduate research assistant for the history department to help defray costs during this period. Before returning to UTSA, he was a trainer and safety consultant to companies utilizing heavy trucks (18-wheelers), where he developed or augmented safety programs, qualified drivers to D.O.T. standards, and taught classes on defensive driving to company drivers. Steve also worked in computer retail sales and training in the 1980s, and drove 18-wheelers coast-to-coast in the 1970s. You can reach Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jed Rogers also began with us in September. This "new kid" on the block is originally from Butler, Missouri. His wife's name is Debra. Debra is an RN at CTMC Hospital in San Marcos, TX. His children's names are Heather and Michael. Heather just completed her B.A. in theater at Graceland College. Michael is a sophomore at SWT University. Both children currently live at home. Jed went to school at the University of Kansas (KU) - yes, a Jayhawk. He completed his B.A. at KU. Jed also completed numerous military schools and courses. He recently retired from the US Air Force Reserves. Favorite pastimes include guitar playing, fishing and home arguments. Jed can be contacted by e-mailing email@example.com.
And, our newest consultant, Elaine Gionet, joined us in December. Elaine is originally from New York, which makes her a Texan by choice rather than by chance. With a B. A. in Art History from SUC at Fredonia, NY and a Master's degree in Library Science from Simmons College, Boston, MA, she began her library career as a newspaper librarian and has also held positions as a serials department head and a county law librarian. Elaine also taught scuba diving in Sarasota and Key West, Florida. She transferred to TSLAC fom the Texas Department of Banking, where she was the departmental archivist and records liaison. E-mail can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Spring-Summer Training Classes
What would you do in case of a disaster? How would you rate your filing system? Do you know how a retention schedule works? And, what about e-mail�What questions do you have?
The new season of training classes for state records management staff begins in March. Classes including Disaster Planning, Improving Filing Systems, Retention Schedule Basics and Managing Electronic Records will be offered from March through August.
Training schedules and registration forms for these free classes will be mailed in January, or you may view the information online at: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/state/schedule.html
So, find out what the state records laws say, or how to send your documents to the state records center, or efficient uses of microfilming, or how electronic document imaging works, or what to do�
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