1.3. Duties of governmental entities
The Public Records Management Act outlines the legal responsibilities of the chief administrative officer (CAO) and appointed records officers (ARO). The law does not identify specific job titles or positions for these individuals, but provides a description of the duties of each role.
Duties of a Chief Administrative Officer
A basic premise to sound records management is that within each organization, the chief administrative officer is responsible for the overall program. This is not a full-time position, but it is formally designated to someone in a senior-level position who has access to other senior executives and can ensure program implementation across the organization. The accountable senior executive oversees the records management program. The Public Records Management Act (Utah Code 63A-12-103) and the Government Records Management and Access Act (Utah Code 63G-2-401) specifically define the records keeping responsibilities of the chief administrative officer. Some of these responsibilities are:
- Establish and maintain an active records management program
- Appoint one or more records officers to work with the State Archives
- Ensure that employees who process records requests are trained
- Document the governmental entity’s organization and its functions, decisions, and essential transactions
- Submit proposed retention schedules to the State Archivist for approval by the State Records Committee
- Make determinations and respond to appeals of denials to records requests. This duty can be delegated.
Utah Code 63A-12-103 – Duties of governmental entities.
The chief administrative officer of each governmental entity shall:
(2) appoint one or more records officers who will be trained to work with the state archives in the care, maintenance, scheduling, disposal, classification, designation, access, and preservation of records;
Duties of Records Officers
The chief administrative officer needs help to carry out a records management program. Therefore, PRMA stipulates that he or she shall appoint one or more records officers who will be trained to work with the State Archives. The responsibilities of records officers are simply enumerated:
- Care of records. This means active involvement with the records. A records officer should be willing and able to dedicate time to records management.
- Maintenance of records. This means taking the necessary steps to ensure that records remain accessible throughout their life cycle and that vulnerability due to neglect or disaster is minimized.
- Scheduling of records. Scheduling is the process of determining how long each record series should be retained by the governmental entity and when it should be destroyed or transferred to the State Archives.
- Disposal of records. The destruction of records is to be done only in accordance with a properly approved retention schedule. Records destruction should be documented.
- Classification of records. Classification is the process of determining whether or not a record or information within a record is exempt from disclosure.
- Designation of records. Designation means making a preliminary decision about the classification of records based on knowledge about the overall content of records or on evaluation of a representative sample of the information in the records.
- Access to records. The first stated intent of GRAMA is the provision of easy and reasonable access to unrestricted public records.
- Preservation of records. Records officers should take steps to ensure the preservation of records with long term or historical value.
A chief administrative officer may appoint one or more records officers and may divide these responsibilities among them. The importance of teamwork between the chief administrative officer, the appointed records officers, and the State Archives, as well as legal counsel, IT, and other professionals cannot be overemphasized.