Establishing and maintaining an effective records management program is a business solution. An organized records management system increases the efficiency of office operations; being able to quickly find the record you need when you need it makes it easier to accomplish your work. Records document business processes and decisions that the state has paid for; their loss requires resources to redo the work, and some losses may not be recoverable. Records storage—whether in a warehouse, on a network server, or in the “cloud”—costs money, and storing information that no longer has an administrative, fiscal, legal, or historical value is not a good use of already-strained funds.1 It is estimated that more than 50 percent of the paper and electronic information that organizations currently store does not have any business or historical value and could be destroyed (as authorized via a retention schedule).2
Your conscientious efforts to manage records will help reduce risks and costs associated with data security breaches, litigation, audits, natural disasters, and unlawful records destruction. Privacy, data protection, and identity theft have become issues of concern, and records officers can help to protect their agencies by retaining and disposing of their records according to schedule. Establishing and following retention schedules provides a safe harbor in times of litigation and audit.
A key benefit of an effective records management system is increased government transparency and accountability. One of the ways government can be accountable to the public is through appropriate management of, and access to, government records. As a steward of your entity’s records, you help provide that critical accountability. Documenting the decisions and functions of your agency also provides a resource to refer to when making future decisions and preserves the history of your agency. You are in a position to affect, in a positive way, the documented history of the state. By providing evidence of governmental and cultural activity, you help form and preserve the state’s cultural identity and collective memory.
1Utah Department of Administrative Services. Division of Archives and Records Services, "Electronic records management business case," Utah State Archives Website, last modified September 4, 2008, accessed February 17, 2015, https://archives.utah.gov/recordsmanagement/erm/ERMBusinessCase.pdf.
2Richardson, Blake. Records Management for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012, p. 36.