Why is records management important? Have you heard about the penalties that can be levied by courts if a State of Washington Public Utility is not able to respond to public records requests? Have important electronic or paper documents every gone missing? Can you easily search for documents on shared network drives? Are paper documents kept forever (ongoing storage costs)? Do you have thousands of emails stored in your inbox?
What is the first step to protecting your Utility? Well written, up-to-date, and followed record management policies, procedures, guidelines, schedules, and systems are a great start. Below is a questionnaire to help you assess your records management situation.
- Does your Utility have a well written Records Management Policy, including:
- description of laws and regulations that the organization needs to comply with,
- a framework for compliance to Washington RCW 40.14,
- instructions for preservation and destruction of public records, and
- staff roles and responsibilities?
- Does your Utility have procedures to apply retention to official records, and duplicate copies, including:
- written steps on how to apply retention to physical records (paper), and
- written steps on how to apply retention to electronic records stored on shared network drives, email, and data systems?
- Does your Utility have an e-mail management guideline describing the retention and disposition (deletion) of emails by type and steps to defensibly dispose of emails, including:
- guidelines to help employees identify emails that are official records and how to retain and delete emails after they have met their retention and purpose served?
- Does your Utility have a master Records Retention Schedules (RRS) that identifies the
applicable Utility records series from the State Retention Schedule (CORE) and Utility Services Records Retention Schedules, including:
- inventory of records by department, of records and documents that they create, receive, store, use, and maintain to perform work, and
- Master RRS identifying retention requirements by records series (document types), including description, and DANS, disposition authorization numbers?
- Do the locations where the Utility store electronic records (e.g. email, shared network drives) ensure that records will be retained and disposed of in accordance with their schedules, including:
- protecting documents from deletion before there scheduled date,
- allowing documents to be kept longer than required operationally, or legally, and
- storage of all documents in one electronic content management (ECM) system?
If the answer is NO to any of the above questions, you will need to update parts of your records management program (policies, procedures, guidelines, schedules, and/or systems). If you would like ideas and assistance feel free to reach out to us.
We assisted many Utilities, including Covington Water, Highline Water, Midway Sewer, Snohomish County PUD, Seattle Public Utilities, and other agencies with an update of their records management programs. For further discussion, Contact Us >
We also provide assistance in the areas of Utility process improvement, ECM Planning, and computer system replacement planning, Read More >