Fact or Fiction – Common Misconceptions About Public Records Archiving

Transparency on how government organizations conduct their business is one of the things the public demands from them. Hence, the creation of the Federal Records Act of 1950, which provided the legal framework for federal records management, and Freedom of Information Act and State Open Record Laws, which requires the disclosure of federal and state records.

However, the advancements in technology and the creation of digital communication channels have shone light to the vagueness of the scope of existing public records archiving laws. The ambiguity of the policies and digital platforms’ use has seen state governments and public agencies stumble upon public records request response difficulties.

Accordingly, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have released a directive that requires all state government and public agencies to establish guidelines on records archiving. The policies should allow them to identify, store, retrieve, and retain electronic records, including mobile SMS, voice calls, e-mails, Whatsapp chats, and store them in an accessible electronic format.

Most public offices have been using text messaging and implementing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies to communicate with their colleagues and clients easily. Hence, government agencies must create and implement a solution that will allow them to capture and record mobile SMS of all their employees.

Despite the creation and amendments of recordkeeping laws, there are still misconceptions looming around public records archiving that give some employees of government agencies difficulties. However, these can be avoided by expounding their knowledge of the regulations’ definition and requirements for storing public records. This infographic by TeleMessage discusses some of the common misconceptions about archiving public records.

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