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Agency Records Officers

Records officers' annual meeting: 14 November 2013

Presentation handout

Records officers' annual meeting: 21 November 2013

Presentation handout - final revision

Statutory Responsibility

Kansas Administrative Regulation 53-4-1 requires the director of each state agency to appoint a records officer for the agency or for each major organizational subdivision. This regulation was approved to implement the Public Records Act, K.S.A. 75-3501-3516, by designating someone with each agency to oversee the efficient management of agency records.

  • "(a) The duties of the records officer shall be to:
  • (1) Maintain a liaison between the agency, the state records board, and the State Archives of the Kansas Historical Society;
  • (2) prepare and maintain an inventory of each record series in the custody of the agency in cooperation with the archives staff;
  • (3) prepare and submit retention and disposition schedules for the state agency's records for approval or modification to the state records board in cooperation with the archives staff;
  • (4) periodically review the agency's records retention and disposition schedules, and submit requests for any needed modifications to the state records board;
  • (5) disseminate pertinent information regarding records management to appropriate staff members within the state agency; and
  • (6) formulate and oversee implementation of agency records management policies and procedures with the assistance of the archives staff to ensure compliance with all applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.
  • (A) Precautions against the destruction or other disposition of agency records without authorization of the state records board, except that these records may be transferred to the state archives with the consent of the state archivist under K.S.A. 45-405;
  • (B) storage conditions and procedures for handling agency records with enduring value that will minimize damage and deterioration;
  • (C) security arrangements that prevent loss, defacement or destruction of agency records due to theft or vandalism; and
  • (D) procedures to ensure that all microfilm copies of records with enduring value meet the requirements of K.S.A. 75-3506 and K.S.A. 45-412.
  • (b) At the discretion of each agency director, the records officer may be responsible for ensuring adequate public access to agency records as required by the open records act, K.S.A. 45-201 et seq., and for ensuring that satisfactory safeguards exist against unauthorized disclosure of confidential records.
  • (c) Each records officer shall be a staff member holding an administrative or professional position. The duties of the records officer may be collateral duties to an existing position in the agency."

Essentially, this means the records officer, on behalf of the agency, may be responsible for all issues of records management policy and statutory compliance with the Public Records Act, the Records Preservation Act, and the Open Records Act, the three major laws dealing with state records in Kansas. The staff of the State Archives and the Records Management Section of the Kansas Historical Society (KSHS) are available to provide advice and assistance in all of the tasks outlined above.

The primary goal of any comprehensive records management program is to ensure that information, whatever the format, is available when and where it is needed at the lowest possible cost during the entire life cycle of a record. This goal implies that government records are a resource that requires time and money to create and retain and that is impacted by a number of legal requirements. Thus, they need to be "managed" just like any other resource. Few agencies have the ability to appoint a full time records officer, but even limited efforts at records management can benefit state agencies. The following explanations of the various duties of records officers listed in K.A.R. 53-4-1 illustrate some of the advantages of implementing a records management program.


Records Inventory/Survey

The records inventory/survey is a listing of all records series created and maintained by an agency. Generally it is prepared prior to or in conjunction with the development of a records retention and disposition schedule. The inventory/survey includes data such as the records series title, inclusive dates, use, location, quantity arrangement, format, restrictions or legal requirements, and all other pertinent information for determining the content of the records. Whether initiating a new records management program or overseeing an existing one, it is critical to have a comprehensive inventory/survey upon which to base decisions about the retention and disposition of records. For example, such an inventory insures that records with no permanent value are not overlooked in developing a records schedule and that they do not continue to take up valuable space in file cabinets or storage areas.

The inventory/survey process is described in the Records Surveys section of this manual. The inventory is an ongoing process because, as new record series are created, they need to be surveyed and the retention and disposition schedule needs to be updated.

Retention and Disposition Schedule

The records retention and disposition schedule is the document that identifies the length of time each records series must be retained in active storage and in inactive storage before final destruction or disposition to the State Archives for permanent retention. Decisions about retention periods are based on the use of the records while "current;" legal requirements; the value of the records in documenting the activities of a state agency including policies, procedures, transactions, and decisions; and the historical value of the information contained in the records.

KSHS Records Management Section personnel work with agencies to prepare these schedules. The process involves staff of the specific agency, legal counsel, and State Archives staff, as necessary, to set the length of time records will be maintained in the originating office and, depending on the content, further disposition to the State Records Center for a specific period, and, finally, destruction or transfer to the State Archives. The completed records schedule is submitted to the State Records Board for approval, as are any requests for changes and updates.

Two different retention and disposition schedules apply to the records of each agency. The "General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule" contains retention periods for series of records that are common to most state agencies such as purchase orders, annual reports, budget documents, etc. In addition, the "Agency Records Retention and Disposition Schedule" establishes retention periods for record series that are unique to that agency or when the time periods in the general schedule need to be modified for a specific record series for the agency.

As indicated above, each agency's records officer is responsible for periodically reviewing the retention and disposition schedule in order to add new records or modify the retention periods for records already scheduled.

Training

The records officer is charged with "disseminating pertinent information regarding records management to appropriate staff members." This includes working with secretarial and clerical staff in establishing filing systems that allow for the efficient implementation of retention and disposition schedules, familiarizing staff with the state laws that govern preservation of and access to government records, establishing a process for implementing records schedules by discarding records and/or transferring them to the State Records Center as required by the retention and disposition schedules, etc.

Implementation of Records Management Policies

Implicit in the creation of a records retention and disposition schedule is its implementation. The records officer has responsibility for overseeing the disposition of records as approved in the general or the agency schedule, whether the record series is to be discarded or transferred to the State Records Center or the State Archives. Thus, the records officer also is responsible for preventing the destruction or disposition of agency records without State Records Board authorization. Specific procedures for transferring records to the State Records Center are outlined in that section of the manual. Arrangements to transfer records scheduled for deposit in the State Archives can be made by contacting (785) 272-8681.

The records officer should establish procedures for storing and handling agency records with enduring value that will ensure their long term preservation. To the extent possible, this includes storing records in areas that are not subject to extreme temperature changes, flooding or water leaks, and that provide security from loss and defacement. If agency records with enduring value are microfilmed, the records officer should establish procedures to ensure that the quality of the microfilm meets the standards required by K.S.A. 75-3506 and K.S.A. 45-412.

Other duties that relate to formulating and overseeing implementation of an agency records management program may include:

  • Designing, monitoring, and refining efficient and effective records storage and retrieval systems, whatever the format--paper, microfilm, or electronic.
  • Identifying vital records (those records needed to resume business in the event of a disaster) and taking precautions to protect them such as developing disaster preparedness plans for vital and archival records.
  • Administering public access to records in accordance with the Kansas Open Records Act (K.S.A. 45-201 et seq.) while ensuring that legal restrictions on access to confidential records are followed.
  • Conducting cost/benefit studies of records management activities.
  • Directing forms design and forms management.
  • Participating in automation studies to ensure that records management concerns are represented in designing and analyzing systems.