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Electronic Records Program 1995-1996 Report

Executive Summary

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The unique and fragile nature of electronic data demands a reevaluation of the way state and local agencies manage records. Processes and procedures created to meet the needs of paper recordkeeping do not apply equally to electronic records, requiring a reassessment of our records management methods. In order to meet recordkeeping responsibilities, agencies must ensure that electronic records are accessible and readable over time and maintain an active program committed to preserving records from their creation to final disposition. Any breakdown in the records management process increases the chance that electronic records with long-term administrative or historical value will be unreadable and inaccessible.

This preliminary plan identifies three objectives required to meet records management program needs for reliably managing electronic records. Each of these objectives must be achieved at a statewide level as well as by each state and local agency.

Objectives

1. Develop policy and technical standards for electronic recordkeeping

Policy

Wisconsin needs statewide policies to help state and local agencies during the transition from paper based recordkeeping to electronic recordkeeping. Specifically, policies must:

  • emphasize the incorporation of records and archives management capabilities into electronic systems,
  • address minimum recordkeeping capabilities and system development and maintenance,
  • identify responsibility for long-term management of electronic records of permanent value.

Technical Standards

Implementing statewide policy for electronic recordkeeping systems requires establishing and promulgating tools, methods, standards, and procedures. These separate components become technical standards for managing electronic records when combined with coherent policies.

Strategies

Working with data, forms, and records professionals, the State Archives will:

  • Assess and evaluate policy and technical standards needs and recommend specific areas of development,
  • Develop and disseminate policies and standards for managing electronic records in areas where the State Archives has authority,
  • Actively advocate and participate in the policy and standards development process where authority does not exist.

2. Develop a program to assist state agencies and local governments to establish and maintain electronic records

State and local government employes need an authoritative, reliable, and consistent source of information and training to effectively create, manage, and preserve electronic records. The state does not currently have a centrally coordinated records management assistance program that supports and fosters the development and maintenance of electronic records and recordkeeping systems. A program would provide the information, training, coordination, and leadership necessary to accomplish that objective.

Strategies

During the first half of 1997, the State Archives will assess each of the assistance program areas and present recommendations for their improvement or development.

3. Develop a model program to manage electronic records of long term value

State and local agencies maintain electronic records to fulfill recordkeeping requirements; some of those records must be kept for a significant amount of time (i.e. 25 to 100+ years). In practice, these records are maintained by either the creating agency or the State Archives, depending on who has statutory responsibility for the records in question. The agency that has custody of records of long-term value must maintain an archival program capable of meeting archival requirements. Unfortunately, state standards and best practices to meet archival requirements for electronic records currently do not exist.

Strategies

In order to ensure the development of necessary standards and best practices, the State Archives will:

  • Examine and evaluate archival requirements for managing electronic records,
  • Develop a model archives program to manage electronic records of long- term value,
  • Develop archival standards and best practices for managing electronic records of long-term value.

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