Records Management and the Law
Managing a state or local government agency’s records is, in fact, governed by law. Awareness of the state and federal statutes and regulations pertaining to records management ensures compliance with applicable laws.
There are several laws that generally govern the creation, use, and disposition of government, or public, records; these laws are broadly applicable to state and local governing entities. Other laws not listed on this webpage may expressly regulate what an agency can do with specific records (such as in an agency’s authorizing statute, or in statute specific to programs and records created by a state agency or local office).
Please note, for interpretation of these laws, consult your agency legal department or counsel, or contact the Kansas Attorney General's Office for assistance.
Government Records Preservation Act (K.S.A. 45-401 et seq.): First written in 1981, this law
· Defines government records. Declares records to be state property and prohibits their unauthorized destruction.
· Lists duties and responsibilities of the State Records Board.
· Designates the Kansas Historical Society as the official State Archives.
· Specifies the duties and responsibilities of the State Archivist.
· Authorizes the State Archivist and his or her representatives to access confidential information.
· Requires state and local agencies to cooperate with the State Records Board and the State Archivist.
· Exempts legislative and judicial records from State Records Board control.
· Stipulates the conditions for the destruction of records after microfilming.
· Allows electronic records as certified by the State Archivist’s electronic signature to have all the legal force and effect as the original.
· Provides for the State Archivist to make available standards and best practices for electronic recordkeeping.
Public Records Act (K.S.A. 75-3501 et seq.): First written in 1945, this law
· Defines records.
· Creates, establishes the composition, and outlines the general responsibilities of the State Records Board.
· Requires agency compliance with micrographic and optical disc standards established by the State Records Board.
· Authorizes the admissibility in court of micrographic and optical disc records.
· Establishes the State Records Center as the depository for inactive state government records.
· Requires state agencies to maintain titles, deeds, or other records related to any real estate transactions conducted by the agency.
· Provides guidelines for the use of acid-free and permanent paper.
· Prohibits disclosure of individuals’ social security numbers, but not access to full records containing that information.
· K.A.R. 53-4-1, an implementation of the Kansas Public Records Act, describes the duties of records officers appointed by executive administrators of executive-branch state agencies. For more about records officers' duties, see this webpage.
Kansas Open Records Act, or KORA (K.S.A. 45-215 et seq.): First enacted in 1983, the Kansas Open Records Act
· Declares records open for inspection unless otherwise provided by this act.
· Requires that agencies develop policies to provide prompt and convenient public access to government records for a reasonable fee.
· Describes several specific categories of records that are exempt from disclosure under Kansas Open Records Act provisions. It should be emphasized that state agencies still have the discretion to release some records exempted from disclosure by the Kansas Open Records Act if they deem it to be in the public interest. (See 45-221 for these categories, which change with some regularity.)
· Provides that records exempted by the Kansas Open Records Act and still in existence will be open to the public after 70 years unless closed by another specific statute or regulation.
· Provides description of enforcement actions and penalties for violations.
· Requires that a local freedom of information officer is designated for each government office.
· Requires a brochure be made available to the general public regarding citizens’ rights of access.
· Provides for legislative review of exceptions; sets expiration periods on certain exceptions unless the legislature renews them.
· Prohibits unlawful use of names derived from public records.
· Requires not-for-profit entities receiving public monies over a certain amount to retain and make publicly available records regarding the expenditure of those funds.
Kansas Open Meetings Act, or KOMA (K.S.A. 75-4317 et seq.): First enacted in 1971, the Kansas Open Meetings Act
· Declares meetings for the conduct of governmental affairs and the transaction of governmental business be open to the public.
· Defines meetings.
· Provides for public notices to be given regarding meetings.
· Provides for exceptions when meetings may be closed.
· Describes penalties and enforcement actions.
Several other laws may be applicable to an agency’s or office’s recordkeeping practices. These include but are not limited to
· K.S.A. 21-5920: Tampering with a public record
· K.S.A. 45-501 and 502: Records made on electronic media; use of standard-sized paper
· K.S.A. 75-2566: Establishment and operation of a publication collection and depository system
· K.S.A. 75-7202 et seq.: Information Technology governance structure in Kansas, including the creation of the IT Executive Council (ITEC) and establishing branch CITOs and the state CITA
· K.S.A 46-2101 et seq.: Establishment of a legislative Joint Committee on Information Technology
· K.S.A. 16-1601 et seq.: Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, allowing for the use of electronic signatures and electronic recordkeeping
K.S.A. 75-103, K.S.A. 75-104, and K.S.A. 75-105 govern records created by and for the Governor’s Office. K.S.A. 75-104 states certain records shall be transferred to the State Archives three years after a governor has left office but notes those records remain in the Governor’s custodianship until his or her death and that such records may remain closed at the Governor’s discretion or due to KORA exemptions.
K.S.A. 19-2647 through K.S.A. 19-2651 allow the county board of commissioners to provide for the care and housing of records and objects of historical interest to the county, following a resolution. K.S.A. 12-1658 through K.S.A. 12-1661 provides the same authority to cities and municipalities. Both indicate a local historical society can be designated to serve as the supervisor or curator of such a collection and that public funds may be used toward that purpose.
Again, please note, this is not an exhaustive list of all statutes governing the recordkeeping practices of a state agency or local office, but this is a good place to begin.