Does your Utility have duplicate copies (and different versions) of documents stored in paper, email, shared network drives, collaboration sites, content management systems, and data systems? Are documents requested through a public disclosure request difficult to find? Have documents gone missing? Have you heard about the penalties that can be levied by Courts if a Public Utility is not able to respond a public records request?
How can you protect your Utility?
A well written, up-to-date, and followed record management program policies, procedures, guidelines, schedules, and system is a good start. Here is a questionnaire to help you assess your Utility current records management situation.
- Does your Utility have an up to date written Records Management Program, including:
- description of laws and regulations that the organization needs to comply with,
- a followed and updated checklist to show compliance,
- policies for email, public disclosure, and other important processes,
- instructions for preservation and destruction of public records, and
- a list of staff roles and responsibilities?
- Does your Utility have procedures to apply retention to records, and duplicate copies, including:
- written steps on how to apply retention to physical records (paper),
- written steps on how to apply retention to electronic records stored on email, shared network drives, collaboration areas, and data systems, and
- a way to help automate, track, and prove retention compliance and defendable disposition?
- 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 an up to date master Records Retention Schedules (RRS) that identifies the applicable Utility records series from State and Federal 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 content in email, shared network drives, collaboration sites, content management systems, and data systems ensure that records will be retained and disposed of in accordance with their schedules, including:
- protecting documents from deletion before their scheduled date,
- allowing documents to be kept longer if required operationally, or legally,
- proper storage of all documents and records?
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 review the current systems where content is stored. If you would like ideas and assistance feel free to reach out to us. We also can help identify ways to improve Utility processes and workflows.
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. As independent consultants, we provide an objective review of your programs, policies, procedures, processes, and systems; including recommendations for improvement. 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 >