The maintenance, destruction and preservation of public records is an important and technical process. Under Ohio law, public records must be kept and maintained so that the public may access those records. Records must be retained for certain periods of time, sometimes permanently, depending upon the type of record.
While most records today are born digital, many public sector agencies are still pressed with issues of storing, retrieving and managing the paper-based records in their possession. At OSBA, we are hearing from more school districts that are interested in scanning their documents and converting them to a digital format that can then be integrated into their existing electronic records management systems.
There are many factors districts should consider before converting their paper files to digital records. The Ohio Electronic Records Committee (OhioERC) recently released a new tool to help public agencies properly analyze their records and determine whether they should be digitized.
The “Scanning Feasibility Tool” asks the following six questions:
- How frequently do you access these records that you want to scan?
- How long is your retention period for these records?
- How many people use the records?
- Where are the people who use the records located?
- What are the types of records?
- How many records are you reviewing/accumulating for possible scanning?
Each question has multiple-choice answers. Once an answer to all six questions is selected, the tool suggests a summary statement of whether the district should commit to a scanning project, and provides a detailed explanation for its recommendation. The OhioERC is clear that the tool is provided for informational purposes only and should be used only as a starting point for discussion by districts and their records commissions. However, for those districts interested in starting the discussion, it’s a pretty cool resource.
The topic of retaining and disposing of records in the digital age is on the agenda for OSBA’s upcoming Attendance, Tuition and Custody workshop. We hope to see you there!