The State Record


July 2002

A Semi-Annual Newsletter of the


State and Local Records Management Division

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Contents


Implementing Retention Schedules

I have noticed some state agencies embrace misconceptions about records management. It seems that once a records retention schedule is approved, a government files it away and believes they now have a records management program. This is far from the case. In fact, the retention schedule is the beginning, and only part, of a records management program: it is the implementation, in conjunction with the schedule, which is really the program.

Records have a life cycle. We could say the record is born when we receive or create it. This first interaction between the government and its record is normally administrative. The record, like our children, needs attention and guidance. How does the record flow through the organization? What departments are affected, and which will react to the record? This is the growing period when one or more departments, or, custodians may handle the record. It might be administrated only once, or many times. The record matures as it moves through this process. It could be altered, or even change identities and become some other kind of record, or it might remain the same as when it began. This is called the active phase of a record�s lifecycle.

The record will eventually require little or no administration and the need to keep the record close at hand may diminish, and sometimes this occurs immediately after the administrative process is complete. Like children who mature and move out of the house, we will see the record less frequently. When this happens, we can do the same thing with the record as we do with our kid�s bunk beds: they can be put elsewhere to free up space that can be more efficiently utilized. The bunk beds may go in the attic, but we have some other choices to make with the records. They may be stored safely away, or we may want to microfilm them, or even scan the records to optical disks. We must retain the records for the period of time that is listed on the retention schedule just like we keep the bunk beds until there is no longer a need for them. This is called the inactive phase of a record�s lifecycle.

The time comes to take the next step in the process. The retention period of the record has been met and it is time to dispose of the record. We may dispose of the bunk beds in a garage sale, but our records require additional decisions. Records may have a historical value and need to be sent to a historical records, or archival, facility. They can also be destroyed, and here we must note whether they are confidential or open records. Confidential records must be destroyed to the point where the confidential information in them is unrecoverable. Open records can be destroyed as well, but they could also be recycled. This is called the disposition phase of a record�s lifecycle.

So you can see now that records are like other cycles in our social world. We cannot simply list records series on a piece of paper and state what we intend to do with our records. We must use this approved retention schedule to pursue records management physically, actively, and conscientiously. The bunk beds need to be made up in the morning, eventually moved to the attic, and finally taken down to the front lawn for the garage sale. All records in the agency must be managed from creation, through the active phase, into the inactive phase, and culminating in the disposition phase, all of which is reflected on the retention schedule. Any break in this continuing process results in owning bunk beds that have no use, and more specifically, having records that are inefficiently managed, lost, or destroyed in an untimely manner. So let�s pull that retention schedule out of the file and use it to implement an efficient and effective records management program for our agency.

by Steve Drake, Government information Analyst

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Email Policy Now Online

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the Records Management Interagency Coordinating Council are pleased to provide a Model Policy for Records Management Requirements for Electronic Mail for use by state agencies. It can be found on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission�s Web site at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/recordspubs/email_model.html.

The opportunities that email provides for enhancing information exchange are just as great as the challenges it presents for the proper management of state records. The issues that must be addressed in any email policy include staff use, privacy concerns, impact of the Texas Public Information Act, and management and disposition of email in accordance to state records retention requirements.

Because electronic messages transmitted through an agency�s email system are considered to be state records, they are subject to disclosure under the Public Information Act.

Retention periods for records are based on subject matter content, not on media format. Therefore, email is not a single record series and there is no single retention period for all email messages. Currently, the end-user of the email system must take the responsibility of classifying and disposing of email. To achieve compliance with retention rules, training the end-users will be essential.

This policy model should be implemented within the larger context of the agency�s record management structure. It is our hope that this policy will provide you with a starting point in your efforts to manage email within your agency.

by Tim Nolan, Program Planning and Research Specialist

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UTEA Update

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) is a model act developed and approved for adoption by state legislatures by The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1999. The Texas version of UETA, Senate Bill 393 was passed by the 77th Texas Legislature in 2001 and became effective on January 1, 2002. It is codified in Chapter 43 of the Business and Commerce Code. Before the passage of the act there was no comprehensive Texas state law for electronic commerce and electronic transactions. The purpose of UETA is to remove barriers to electronic commerce by validating and effectuating electronic records and signatures. It is not a digital signature statute. UETA is designed to support and compliment Texas� digital signature rule.

An important aspect of this law is that it does not require a record or signature to be created, sent, received or otherwise processed by electronic means. It is permissive in that the each of the parties of a transaction must agree to conduct that transaction by electronic means and does not require that all transactions be electronic. It also provides that if law requires a written record or signature, an electronic record or signature will suffice. Records managers should note that UETA requires that the record be retained in a manner that accurately reflects the information in the record at the time the record was created and that the record remain accessible for later reference. If that record is to be retained, it may be retained in electronic format.

UETA also prohibits evidence in a lawsuit to be excluded solely because it is in electronic form. However, UETA does not apply to laws governing the creation and execution of wills, codicils and testamentary trusts. UETA�s deference to other substantive law does not negate the necessity of the creation of rules and guidelines for electronic contracting. The introduced bill was amended several times, but with one exception, the amendments were technical amendments designed to ensure minimal conflict between the Texas version of UETA with the Federal E-Sign legislation. The one exception was to protect existing rulemaking authority of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission over electronic records. The bill was amended by Section 43.017(b) to provide that TSLAC along with the Department of Information Resources (DIR) can adopt rules and specify procedures under the Act.

Beginning in April 2002, DIR and TSLAC will convene a task force to determine what rules and procedures are necessary to enable Texas governments to effectively implement the requirements of UETA. The task force will consist of representatives from selected state agencies, local governments, county associations, technology vendors and a title company. The UETA Task Force may address:

  • The manner and format in which the electronic records must be created, generated, sent, communicated, received, and stored and the systems established for those purposes;
  • If electronic records must be signed by electronic means, the type of electronic signature required, the manner and format in which the electronic signature must be affixed to the electronic record, and the identity of, or criteria that must be met by, any third party used by a person filing a document to facilitate the process;
  • Control processes and procedures as appropriate to ensure adequate preservation, disposition, integrity, security, confidentiality, and auditability of electronic records; and
  • Any other required attributes for electronic records which are specified for corresponding nonelectronic records or reasonably necessary under the circumstances.

by Tim Nolan, Program Planning and Research Specialist

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E-Records 2002

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission, in cooperation with the Department of Information Resources, is hosting the conference e-Records 2002: E-Solutions for E-Goverment on November 21, 2002, at the J.J. Pickle Conference Center in Austin. This year�s conference will feature panels discussing UETA and the University of Texas� GSLIS Email project, in addition to many other subjects

For further details, check out the website at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/state/erec2002.html Share this information with your agency IRM and look for updates as November approaches.

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Page last modified: October 26, 2010