Several states and cities have moved toward digitizing existing paper records, both to save space and to promote broader access to public documents. However, digital media is constantly evolving, and few national standards exist to regulate the creation and maintenance of electronic public records.
In Illinois, the Secretary of State’s office issued these guidelines for local governments seeking to digitize their records:
Legal Responsibility: Just as with paper records, electronic records must be retained for any period required by law, and agencies must produce the records in response to public records requests.
Longevity of Digital Records: Copies should be made of digital documents, with the original digital information stored off-site in a controlled environment.
Digitizing Existing Records: Agencies should analyze the costs associated with implementing and maintaining an imaging system, including the cost of hardware, software, training, scanning records and converting old files. Outsourcing may be an option, although agencies should be concerned about losing control of their records.
Managing Electronic Records: Records must be stored in a system where they can be organized and reliably retrieved.
Choosing the Right Vendor: Requests for Proposals should demand evidence that bidders have a track record of successful similar projects. Agencies should consider requiring vendors to deposit a copy of their imaging system’s software codes in an escrow account in case the vendor goes out of business, as well as requiring them to notify the agency about discontinuation of or changes to products and services.
Learn more about how the latest data center solutions are helping state and local agencies find success and efficiencies in our story, "State and Local Agencies Grapple with Evolving Data Center Needs."