Getting Started: A Guide for New Records Officers

You’ve been appointed by your director to be the records officer for your agency.

Here at the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service (aka State Archives), the terms we use are:

  • chief administrative officer (CAO) for your director or top-level administrator, and
  • appointed records officer (ARO) for you.

These terms match the language used in the law, which details what government agencies are supposed to do for records management (Utah Code 63A-12-103). In that law, you'll see that the appointed records officer is supposed to:

"...be trained to work with the state archives in the care, maintenance, scheduling, disposal, classification, designation, access, and preservation of records..."

So, your job is to work with the State Archives, and the State Archives is here to help you. There is a Records and Information Management (RIM) Specialist at the State Archives assigned to help you and your agency.

 

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Certification

As a records officer, you need to be certified, according to the law (Utah Code 63G-2-108). To certify, you’ll take an online test. There are two tests available, one about Records Management, and one about Records Access (GRAMA). You only need to pass one test to certify. The study guides for the tests can be found at archives.utah.gov/rim/CSS/main.html

  • You need a 75% on the test to pass.
  • You may take the test as many times as you like.
  • After the test, you’ll be able to see which questions you missed and what your answer was, but not the right answer. Contact your RIM Specialist if you would like help reviewing the questions you missed.
  • Plan an hour or two to take the test the first time.
  • You don't have to take the entire test in one sitting. The tests are divided into three or four modules, so you can finish one and come back later if needed.

2. Records and Information Management Training

You’ll need to know the basics of records and information management, like retention schedules, disposition, classification, etc. You can receive training on these topics by attending the State Archives training sessions, watching training sessions online, or just reading the test study materials. We also provide in-agency training upon request.

 

3. Records Access and Government Transparency

You may need to process record requests, or GRAMA requests, for your agency. The procedures for submitting and answering record requests are laid out in the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) (Utah Code 63G-2). The study materials and training videos listed above give an overview of this law and your responsibilities as a governmental entity. The State Archives also has tools and employees whose job it is to help you with specific transparency- and GRAMA-related issues.

  • If your responsibilities include posting public meeting notices and materials for a public body, you will need to become familiar with the Utah Public Notice Website, which is administered by the State Archives.

  • The state has also created the Open Records Portal as a place for members of the public to submit GRAMA/records requests. You may log into the portal to manage and respond to requests submitted to your agency (you'll get an email if someone submits a request).

  • These two portals are administered by Dylan Mace, so contact him if you need help with either.
  • The state has an ombudsman to help with records request disputes or issues (for example, if a requester makes a very large or vague request, or if a requester is upset with an agency's response). Our government records ombudsman is Rosemary Cundiff.

 

4. What’s Already Been Done / Your Agency’s Records

It’s likely that your agency has already set up some retention schedules and reported some of its record series to the State Archives; your agency may have boxes stored off-site at the Records Center in Clearfield, or microfilm copies preserved at the State Archives. Finding out what’s already been done will help you be more efficient in the future.

  • To view the retention schedules that the Archives has on file for your agency, go to archives.utah.gov/rim/retention-schedules.html
    • Type in your agency’s name in the box that says “Search by agency name”
    • Select your agency from the list
    • Click the link that says Retention and Classification Report (you may need to scroll down to see this)

  • Secure offsite records storage of permanent and non-permanent paper records is available at the State Records Center. This service is offered free of charge and includes disposition: either the destruction of non-permanent records once they've met retention (with your authorization), or the transfer of permanent records to the State Archives once they've met retention.
    • Your agency still owns the records you are storing at the State Records Center
    • You can recall records from the Records Center to your office at any time

  • For a list of boxes stored by your agency in the Records Center, contact your RIM Specialist or the State Records Center staff. The box list will only show a summary of box contents; your agency should have more detailed information in your office.
  • Reformatting of records from microfilm to digital or paper to microfilm is available at low cost. To view the microfilm holdings at the State Archives for your agency’s records, go to archives.utah.gov/rim/retention-schedules.html
    • Type in your agency’s name in the box that says “Search by agency name”
    • Select your agency from the list
    • Click the link under “Microfilm List” that says PDF

 

And That’s It!

That’s a lot to think about, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but please know that you are not alone. Records and Information Management is a team effort with a lot of moving parts, and needs to be taken one step at a time. Start with certification and figuring out where your agency is in the process.

The Archives’ RIM Specialists are here to help you at any point.


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Page Last Updated July 13, 2020 .