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Electronic Records Program 1994-1995 Report

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Executive Summary

Program Mandate

The Electronic Records Program was established by 1993 Wisconsin Act 257. Wisconsin Statute 44.095 states that the historical society shall create a pilot electronic records program ...and shall do all of the following:

  • Assist state agencies in planning archival management of their electronic records;
  • Examine and evaluate options for the protection, preservation and accessibility of electronic records of permanent historical value;
  • Develop procedures for the protection, preservation and accessibility of electronic records of permanent historical value;
  • Develop and periodically update a comprehensive plan for the protection, preservation and accessibility of electronic records of permanent historical value; and
  • The historical society shall submit the plan by June 30, 1995, and plan updates annually thereafter until June 30, 1998 to the Governor, the Legislature under s.13.172(2), the Privacy Advocate, the Division of Information Technology Services and the Council on Information Technology in the Department of Administration.

First Year Summary

The Electronic Records Program made a significant amount of progress in its first year. The program's first year plan focused on the following areas: Data Management and Administration, Service and Outreach, and the establishment of an advisory group to assist in planning and information sharing. Program staff have also identified several issues affecting the management and preservation of state electronic information and records.

Data Management and Administration

Program staff worked to better understand the technical and administrative issues related to managing and preserving electronic records. To accomplish this, program staff focused internally on the State Archives electronic records program requirements and externally on agency electronic records management and data administration practices. Internally, program staff improved access to electronic records that were stored at the State Archives, investigated several scenarios for storing electronic records, established draft procedures and guidelines for agency submission of electronic records to the State Archives, created Division-wide guidelines and procedures for some types of electronic records, and reviewed all state agency disposition authorizations that scheduled electronic records. Externally, program staff worked with several agencies to evaluate the historical value of selected electronic systems.

Service and Outreach

Program staff met with state agency records officers, information technology professionals, program staff, and administrators to assist them in the development of Records Disposition Authorizations for automated systems. Staff provided consultation on state laws, rules and legal precedents that affect electronic record keeping, as well as general information on the issues of managing and preserving state electronic records. Program staff also participated in statewide automation planning meetings, spoke to records-related groups, taught a class on scheduling electronic records systems, and presented papers at a regional archives conference. The outcome of the program's service and outreach work has been an increase of state government offices that know about the Electronic Records Program and the staff expertise available to deal with electronic records issues and problems.

Electronic Records Program Advisory Group

In order to expand upon program staff work and gain credibility in state agencies, the State Archives has established an advisory group of representatives from a variety of technological, record keeping, and policy related areas. The group held its first meeting in May and will meet quarterly to discuss strategies for meeting the Electronic Records Program's goals and objectives.

Issues Affecting the Management and Preservation of State Electronic Information and Records

Program staff have identified several areas that present challenges to ensuring that the state's electronic information and records are identified, preserved and made accessible.

  • The state lacks a coherent, centralized information management policy.
  • There continues to be confusion regarding the status of electronic data as public records.
  • The programs established to help manage public records have failed to prevent the loss of important electronic information and records.
  • Preservation of electronic information and records requires the preservation of the medium, technology and intellectual content.
  • Imaging does not ensure the preservation of the state's important records.
  • The state lacks a clear policy regarding the public record status of electronic mail communications created in the course of state business.

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