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Sunday 27 September 2020
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Fact or Fiction – Common Misconceptions About Public Records Archiving

Every government organization has to be transparent to its constituents on how they conduct their business – this is in accordance with the Federal Records Act of 1950, which provides the legal framework for federal records management, including record creation, maintenance, and disposition. However, due to technological advancements, the scope of the existing public records archiving laws became vague, prompting several state governments to implement new rules to manage the rise of new communication platforms. 

The retention policies of the Freedom of Information Act and most State Open Record Laws requires the disclosure of federal and state records, including employee text messages, to the public. Consequently, under the NARA 2019 mandate, all state governments and public agencies are required to establish systems and policies that will enable them to capture electronic records, including text messages, voice calls, Whatsapp chats, and archive them in an accessible electronic format. 

An example of a law that complies with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) 2019mandate is the Texas 944 text message law. It provides a new way of how public employees community with their colleagues and constituents to ensure structured public records request response. The law regulates the use of personal devices of employees in their workplace. 

However, despite the new recordkeeping laws coming to effect, several public offices are still running into difficulties. Many of these issues arise from the myths associated with public records archiving, perceptibly concerning the effective retention of mobile communication records. 

It is important to remember facts based on acts, laws, and mandates to avoid confusion and misinformation. This infographic by Telemessage discusses the common misconceptions about public records archiving.