Program Overview: Program Benefits, Components, Responsibilities, and History

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1 Orange County Records Management Program Program Overview: Program Benefits, Components, Responsibilities, and History Why Records Management? Records make up the memory of the organization. They document the activities of County offices, protect the rights of citizens, and support accountability. As such, the records of the County of Orange are an invaluable resource that must be carefully managed, protected against loss, and made accessible when needed. Records management is the application of procedures and policies designed to ensure that records are maintained, utilized, and ultimately disposed of in an efficient manner and in accordance with administrative needs and legal requirements. Records Management principles apply to the entire life cycle of records, from their creation to their final disposition. Records management is the responsibility of all County employees. By applying the policies and procedures established by the Records Management Program and County offices, County employees can contribute greatly to the efficiency and effectiveness of the record systems found in every County office. Benefits Of A Records Management Program The Records Management Program provides both immediate and long-term benefits to the County. These benefits include: 1. Compliance with legal retention requirements In the absence of a records management program, organizations often fail to establish official record retention policies. Some records may be destroyed too soon while others may be retained far longer than necessary. Consequently, one of the fundamental objectives of any records management program is the development of records retention schedules (called Records Control Schedules in Orange County) for all records in the organization. These schedules describe each category of record in the organization and specify a retention period, based on legal requirements and administrative needs. 2. Ensuring that documents are destroyed in a legally acceptable manner A records management program ensures that records are retained for a period that meets the minimum legal requirements. It is just as important to destroy the records in the regular course of business (not all at once just before litigation or an audit), a concept that is recognized in both federal and state law. By following this concept, an organization can protect itself in the event of litigation or audit by ensuring that records with expired retention periods are destroyed in a legally acceptable manner.

2 3. Space savings Studies show that on average, an organization that implements a records management program can expect the following results: One third of all records will be destroyed. One third of all records will be transferred to low-cost off-site storage. One third of all records will be retained in the office area. From the inception of Orange County s program, it was obvious that the potential for space savings was great. In 1978, just prior to the establishment of the County Records Center and before the widespread use of Records Control Schedules, a survey of County records showed that Orange County offices: Utilized over 50,000 square feet of prime office space for records storage. Stored records in nearly 5,000 file cabinets, nearly all in prime office space. Had custody of over 100,000 cubic feet of records consisting of an estimated 200 million sheets of paper. Over the years the Records Management Program has come a long way toward attaining major savings in space. It is now routine for County offices to transfer inactive files to the Records Center. As of the year 2005, the Records Center had holdings of nearly 50,000 boxes of records. It is also routine for County offices to dispose of records in accordance with Records Control Schedules. Over 2,000 records series (types of records) have been placed on approved schedules. 4. Faster retrieval of documents and fewer misplaced documents The Records Center serves all County offices as a well-organized extension of their office filing system. When boxes of records are transferred to the Records Center, they are systematically catalogued and organized in a manner that greatly facilitates rapid retrieval of the documents. Individual files can usually be located in an average of only 60 seconds. 5. Reduction in expenditures for filing equipment The routine disposition of records in accordance with Records Control Schedules results in fewer files stored in prime office areas. Consequently, the need for filing cabinets and other filing equipment often decreases. Further, when inactive records are transferred to the Records Center, filing equipment is made available for current business needs.

3 6. Protection of vital records Without warning, natural and man-made disasters such as fires, earthquakes, or floods can result in the loss of essential records. Lost documents can be expensive to recreate and in some instances lost documents can not be replaced at all. A vital records program can help ensure that important records systems are protected against loss. Components Of The Current Records Management Program The current program consists of the following major components: Records Control Schedules, also known as records retention schedules, are developed and employed to regulate the retention and disposition of County records in accordance with administrative needs and legal requirements. The County Records Center, a centralized records storage facility, is maintained to house and service the inactive documents of County offices. Records management training and education is provided to all departments through published and on-line manuals, information sheets, and newsletters. Records Management Program Responsibilities The following responsibilities are assigned to the Records Management Program. Many of these are explained in greater detail in later sections of this web site. propose, develop, and administer records management policies, procedures, and standards work with departments to develop record retention schedules and maintain comprehensive records documenting the development and approval of the schedules provide records storage and retrieval services for inactive records at the County Records Center maintain a file of agency authorized signature lists for various program activities Agency Head Responsibilities The following responsibilities are assigned to the individual agency heads. appoint one or more Records Coordinators to serve as a liaison between the agency and the Records Management Program ensure that agency records are managed with due regard for security, integrity, economy, and efficiency ensure that records are routinely destroyed pursuant to approved Records Control Schedules and that the destruction is fully documented. ensure the protection of the agency s vital records Agency Records Coordinator Responsibilities Each agency head shall assign at least one coordinator to serve as a liaison with the Records Management Program. The following responsibilities are assigned to the agency records coordinators.

4 maintain file control procedures to ensure the safety, integrity, and confidentiality of agency records. notify the Records Management Program when amendments are needed to Records Control Schedules. coordinate the transfer of records to the Records Center for storage, when applicable, at the end of the office retention period pursuant to approved Records Control Schedules. review and approve the disposition of records scheduled for destruction at the Records Center ensure that all necessary authorized signature lists have been submitted to the Records Management Program A Brief History Of The County s Records Management Program On March 13, 1973, the Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution No that directed the County Administrative Office to conduct a records management program study. This directive was made in response to a report on County microfilming practices that concluded that many costly microfilming applications could have been avoided if proper records management policies and procedures had been in place. As a result of this study, the Records Management Program was inaugurated in 1975 to ensure that maximum economy and control are maintained in the utilization, storage, protection, and disposition of County records. Initially, the program focused entirely on the creation of Records Control Schedules that establish official retention policies for County records. In 1978, the first full time, permanent records management position was filled. Six months later, also in 1978, a County Records Center facility was established at 1119 E. Chestnut in Santa Ana, to house and manage inactive County records. The County Archives, a program to protect the historical records of Orange County, was established at the Records Center on April 26, This program was later transferred to the Orange County Public Library, and most recently to the County Clerk-Recorder. In 1986 the Records Management Program was assigned responsibility for coordinating a Vital Records Program to safeguard critical records and for setting up a disaster recovery team to salvage records that may have been damaged as a result of natural and man-made disasters. In 2004, the Records Center moved to a new location at 1300 S. Grand, Building A. Orange County Records Center General Information The Orange County Records Center is a storage facility for inactive or semi-active County records, providing retrieval services as required and authorized by each department. The Records Center also monitors retention periods for each box of records

5 in storage and notifies departments when records are scheduled to be destroyed. The Records Center is a key element of the County s Records Management Program. When departments transfer records to the Records Center, they recover valuable office space and file equipment for current business needs. Storage costs are kept to a minimum through the use of low-cost shelving, maximum utilization of space, and a program of scheduling records for destruction. The Records Center is located at 1300 S. Grand Ave., Building A, Santa Ana. For a map to the Records Center, click here. Regular business hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. Telephone number: (714) Fax: (714) How To Transfer Records To The Records Center 1. Selecting the Correct Type of Storage Box o Records must be packed in standard records storage boxes measuring 10 x 12 x 15 inches. There are many brands and models of boxes on the market and the quality and durability of the boxes vary considerably. Because we need boxes that remain durable after many years of use, we insist that you obtain only the best boxes available. o The best boxes are those with two (2) layers of corrugated board along the long end of the box, and three (3) layers along the short end. We request that you use: Fellowes Bankers Box 771, available from Corporate Express (stock # FEL00771) using the county wide master agreement for corrugated boxes. Fellows Bankers Box number 775, available from Office Max, Office Depot, or Corporate Express. It is best to choose a box with as little printing as possible on the outside. 2. Packing Record Storage Boxes o Records must be placed in standard record storage boxes with dimensions of 10 x 12 x 15 inches. o Place letter-size records in an upright position (as in a file cabinet) across the 12-inch width. Place legal-size records across the 15-inch length. o Records with different destruction dates should not be placed in the same box. 3. Labeling the Boxes o Write a temporary box number no larger than three (3) inches high in the

6 o lower left corner of one of the short ends of the box (12-inch side with a hand hole). Write a 1 on the first box, 2 on the second, and so on. Or write any other series of numbers and letters, as long as each box in the shipment has a unique number. Except for the temporary box number, leave the ends of the box blank (the Records Center staff will write the Records Center Location Number in this space). There is no need to write a description of the box contents on the box itself. If you do write additional information on the box, please limit the writing to the long side of the box, or box top. Example of a properly labeled box 4. Preparing the Records Transfer List form The transferring office must complete a Records Transfer List form for each shipment of records. The form is available on this web site. The user can complete the form on his computer and the completed form to the Records Center for processing. The completed Records Transfer List form must include a box-by-box description of the record shipment. The form will be used as an index and reference guide to the records stored at the Records Center. It is vital that the box-by-box description contain sufficient detail to be useful for future retrieval purposes. The description does not have to include a listing of each file in the box if the department maintains a separate indexing system. Each form has space to list approximately five to ten boxes of records. Use as many pages as needed for the shipment. Example of Records Transfer List Note that one of the columns on the form reads Records Control Schedule and Item No. This is a reference to your department s record retention schedule, which lists the various categories of records that are maintained by your office and the proper retention period. If you don t have a copy of this schedule, contact our office. We can furnish you with one. Transmit the completed form to the Records Center by in the case of electronic forms. When the record shipment has been received and processed at the Records Center, the staff will complete the form by assigning a Records Center Location Number (a unique, permanent shelf number) to each box. The Records Center will then return a copy of the completed form to the transferring department to serve as a receipt and index to the records in storage.

7 5. Transporting the Record Shipment It is the responsibility of the transferring department to arrange for transportation of the records to the Records Center. Always contact the Records Center prior to making arrangements to transfer the records. In general, the Records Center will authorize the immediate transfer; however, in some instances we may have to delay the transfer of large shipments for several days or even several weeks. Records Retrieval Service Departments may request access to their stored documents at any time. As required, the Records Center staff can Forward a record to a requester by interdepartmental mail service. Present a record to a messenger. Present a record to a requester for viewing in the Records Center reference room. Normal reference service is obtained by sending a Reference Request form to the Records Center. When authorized, departments may request records by telephone or fax. When completing the form, you will need to include the Records Center Location Number for each box. This number can be found on the Records Transfer List form. Most requests for records are processed within four hours. Rush orders will be processed immediately. Example of Reference Request Form Each department must provide the Records Center with a list of employees authorized to request records. This can be done on the form titled Authorization to Request Records in the Custody of the Orange County Records Center. This form is available on this web site. Destruction Of Records Stored At The Records Center The Records Center monitors the retention period of each box of records in storage. The destruction dates are determined only after a review of the official retention periods as shown on the department s Records Control Schedules (also known as records retention schedules). The Records Center will notify departments when retention periods have expired. Records will not be destroyed until departments provide written approval.

8 The Records Center will obtain approval to destroy records as follows: 1. The Records Center makes a copy of the relevant Records Transfer Lists and circles each box that is scheduled to be destroyed. 2. The Records Center sends a copy of the Records Transfer Lists to the transferring department for review. 3. A department representative signs at the bottom of each page in the section headed Department Destruction Authorization. (The Records Center will establish an authorized signature list for each department).after the department returns the signed Records Transfer Lists, the Records Center staff removes the boxes of records from the shelves in preparation for destruction. It is the responsibility of each department to arrange for the pickup and shredding of its documents. The Records Center notifies the department when the records are ready for pickup by the vendor. Records Control Schedules One of the primary objectives of the County Records Management Program is the development of Records Control Schedules for all County agencies. These schedules sometimes called records retention schedules establish official policies for the retention and disposition of County documents. Each schedule contains a listing of the categories of records maintained by one department or office, the number of years that the records are to remain in the office area and (if applicable) at the Records Center, and the conditions under which the records can be destroyed. The County Records Management Program coordinates the development of Records Control Schedules, submits them to the Board of Supervisors for approval, and maintains a complete file of all schedules and supporting documentation. Although we encourage each agency to develop their own schedule for the files that are unique to their agency, we have also established a single schedule that can be used by all County offices for those records that are commonly found in throughout the County. This includes accounting, purchasing, reference, and correspondence files. The schedule is numbered 16B (click here for a copy of this schedule). What are the benefits of establishing and using Records Control Schedules? In the absence of record retention policies, organizations tend to keep records far longer than necessary. Offices run out of space as file cabinets and shelves become filled to capacity with obsolete documents. Excess records are often packed into storage boxes and eventually fill every available spare room. They may spill into hallways. If the records are ever destroyed at all, it may involve the destruction of large quantities of records all at once covering many years of records in an effort to clean house a

9 matter that a court may frown upon if records that are needed for litigation were suddenly destroyed in a massive purge of the files. However, when Records Control Schedules are in place, agencies can destroy their obsolete documents on a regular basis (in the regular course of business ), in accordance with the official policy. Floor space and file equipment are recovered and agencies can begin to manage their files in a more efficient and legally acceptable manner. If your agency is interested in developing Records Control Schedules, or in updating existing schedules, please contact our office for assistance.

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