Local Records Manual
The Local Records Program of the Kansas Historical Society has developed this manual to help local officials fulfill their record keeping responsibilities. It describes methods that can be used in any office to better manage public records. Finally, this manual will supply information necessary to solve problems, increase efficiency and safety, save money, and preserve historical records.
The manual was created in 1997, and subsequent revisions to the records management and the law, records schedules, and electronic records guidelines are NOT included. View the latest versions of these online.
View the manual using Adobe Acrobat (.pdf format) here.
View the chapters individually using your web browser (.htm) by following one of the following links:
- Records Inventory
- Records Retention Schedules
- Vital Records
- Disaster Planning/Recovery
- Digital Imaging Guidelines
- Records Management and the Law
The Importance of Local Records
Local records are essential to the operation of local government. They provide public servants the information they need to conduct programs, make decisions, and ensure administrative continuity. Local records document the delivery of services, provide legal accountability, give evidence of the responsible management and expenditure of public funds, and document the historical development of government and the community it serves. In short, local records are a public trust, an essential informational resource for local government and its citizens, and an important cultural asset.
Records Management: A Part of Good Government
If the public and/or staff is not able to retrieve information in a timely manner, the ability to function is impaired, and the rights of citizens may go unprotected. Records must, therefore, be managed. Records management is the management science that controls the quality, quantity, and cost of recorded information throughout its life cycle. Records management makes information available when and where it is needed in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
What are Records?
Records are defined as recorded information regardless of medium or characteristics.@ They are created whenever your office either generates or receives information that gives evidence of its activities. Records include information recorded on paperClike forms, reports, and correspondenceCinformation recorded on magnetic or electronic mediaClike tapes and disksCand information recorded on maps, drawings, photographs, and microfilm.
What are Non-records?
Non-records are the convenience copies that are made of records either created or received that are not evidence of your local government activities (magazines, catalogues, trade journals, federal or state policies or regulations, books, pamphlets, and so forth. )
The Life Cycle of Records
Every record goes through a life cycle, which begins with its creation and ends with its ultimate disposition.
A record is created when you receive or generate information for the first time.
A record is in its active stage when you are using or referring to it regularly in the course of business.
A record moves into the inactive stage when you need it infrequently but must keep it for legal, fiscal, or administrative reasons.
The record ends its life cycle when it has out-lived its retention period, and you no longer need it to conduct business. Ninety-five to ninety-seven percent of the records you create will be destroyed at the end of their life cycle. The remaining three to five percent will have permanent value and should be maintained in archival storage, usually in hard copy format.
The Three Building Blocks of a Records Program
Local legislation, the assignment of responsibility and delegation of authority, and the support of management form the basis of a sound local government records management program.
The local governing body should pass legislation that establishes a program, states its objective, describes its elements, designates a records management officer, defines the officer's responsibilities, and if possible, provides funding.
Responsibility and Authority
The records management officer should be given the responsibility and authority to coordinate:
Development of records retention schedules
Legal destruction of obsolete records
Development of micrographics and automated data processing systems
Training of local officials on records management techniques.
In short, the records officer should be given the responsibility and authority to help local government officials develop and maintain a comprehensive records management program.
The Support of Management
An effective program will enjoy the support of management and management's commitment to adequate funding. Even the most beneficial projects will fail without the support of management, therefore you must take the initiative to inform and educate local government officials about the benefits of good records management. Successful records management proposals contain the following elements:
Cost savings and cost verses overall benefit
Consequences of a legally deficient records program (i.e., loss of rights, liability, loss of time and money, adverse inference in litigation)
Good publicity (i.e., within the local government, the general public)
Better utilization of resources (people and money)
The Elements of a Records Management Program
A comprehensive program includes some or all of the following elements:
Inventory and appraisal of records
Preparation of records retention/disposition schedules
Management and control of active and inactive files
Protection of vital records
Storage conditions and the management of archives
Management of micrographics
Creation of a disaster preparedness plan
Conservation and repair of records
Creation of a procedures manual
Public Records in Kansas
Section 45-217 (f)(1) of the Open Records Act defines public records as "any recorded information, regardless of form or characteristics, which is made, maintained or kept by or is in the possession of any public agency ... " See also K.S.A. 45-402 (d) and K.S.A. 75-3501.
Section 45-217 (e)(1) defines a public agency as "the state or any political or taxing subdivision of the state, or any office, officer, agency instrumentally thereof, or any other entity receiving or expending and supported in whole or in part by public funds appropriated by the state or by public funds of any political subdivision of the state." The term political subdivision is synonymous with local government. See also K.S.A. 45-402 (b).
What is a Public Record?
Records your local government office creates or receives in the course of business are considered public records and must be maintained and disposed of according to the terms of the Kansas Open Records Act. Unless the law restricts public records for reasons of privacy, confidentiality, or security, they must be made reasonably accessible to the public.
The Responsibility of the Kansas Historical Society
The KSHS Library/Archives Records Management section has the legal responsibility for overseeing the management of the state's public records and for advising government officials on records management and archival administration.
Kansas Statutes Annotated and Kansas Administrative Regulations describe the responsibilities of the state records board, state and local government agencies, records officers, the state records center, and the state archives in managing the state's records. The Local Government Records Manual includes detailed discussions of these responsibilities as well as the text of relevant statutes and administrative regulations.