Introducing the PRA & Records Management Technology Guide!
March 7, 2019
Category: Public Records Act
Managing public records has become an increasingly complex task for Washington government agencies. Electronic records technology, while it presents opportunities, is not a core area of expertise for many local governments. In 2016, the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) issued a Performance Audit on the Effect of the Public Records Requests on State and Local Governments. That Audit found jurisdictions that invest in technology for managing public records are in a better position to meet the increasing demands of the Public Records Act (PRA) and records retention statutes.
MRSC has partnered with the SAO Center for Government Innovation (formerly known as the Performance Center) to provide local governments with information and resources for managing electronic public records. The PRA & Management Technology Guide (Guide) will help you understand the opportunities and challenges of preparing for, selecting, and using records management technology. Here are some of the highlights!
The Technology Procurement Process
Deciding which technology solutions are right for your agency is extremely important, but some agencies may not be sure how to set up the process or what questions to ask. The Guide will help with the following:
- Deciding whether your agency is ready for technology-based solutions and factors to consider before you begin your procurement process.
- Understanding the different software options and deciding whether your agency should procure customized, specialty, or multipurpose software solutions.
- Understanding the various types of functions that records management technology provides, such as retention, redaction, archiving, record searches, etc.
- Developing evaluation criteria based on your agency’s specific needs and obtaining product information from technology providers and other agencies using the software.
Software Provider Profiles
In developing the Guide, MRSC surveyed Washington local agencies and obtained information on software currently being used for PRA and records management. We developed profiles of many of the software providers being used by local government agencies, profiles that include the following information:
- Whether a provider offers “multifunction” solutions intended to broadly address an agency’s record management needs or more specialized solutions that focus on specific tasks or types of records;
- A color-coded system for quickly determining what types of functions are offered by each provider;
- For each of the profiled providers, information on who its customers are;
- Contact information for each provider as well as links to software reviews, where available;
- Cost information and whether a free trial is available; and
- Information on software and system integration and deployment (i.e., cloud or in-house).
There are also a series of appendices to the provider profiles containing tables that (1) detail which providers offer solutions in particular areas; (2) offer a list of software products used by each jurisdiction; and (3) offer a list of jurisdictions that use particular software products. Finally, there is an appendix that provides links to examples of Requests for Proposals. We hope that this information will help agencies communicate more effectively when searching for and obtaining the best possible software solutions for their needs.
Electronic Records Policy Tool Kit
We have also prepared an Electronic Records Policy Tool Kit (Tool Kit) to assist agencies with the adoption of policies relating to electronic public records. We reviewed policies that are currently in use by Washington local governments and adapted language into a Tool Kit that can be used by agencies to adopt or update their electronic public records policies. The Tool Kit contains language for the following topics:
- Processing Public Records Requests for Electronic Records,
- Retention of Email and Other Electronic Records,
- Text Messaging Policies,
- Social Media Policies,
- Copying Charges for Public Records, and
- Tracking Records Requests and Reporting PRA Metrics (JLARC Reporting)
Electronic records policies should be prepared in consultation with an agency’s legal counsel, but we hope that the Tool Kit provides a helpful starting point.
Download the Guide and Tool Kit
You can download the Guide and the Tool Kit from MRSC’s website, as well as SAO's Resources Database.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding these documents, please contact us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about this topic or other local government issues, please use our Ask MRSC form or call us at (206) 625-1300 or (800) 933-6772.
MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.