Records Management Essentials

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3.7. Assign recordkeeping responsibilities and train agency staff members

Once you have become familiar with your agency’s records and updated your retention schedules, assign recordkeeping responsibilities to those who have a hand in maintaining the records (physically or electronically) and document the assignments. Decide which office or person will be responsible for the record copy, and who will be managing only access or reference copies. Clarify how retention will be tracked and by whom, e.g. are the retention dates built into your electronic records management system or do the data need to be manipulated manually with the cooperation of your IT department? Determine who will transfer or arrange for the destruction of records according to the retention schedules (with the approval of the records officer), and how it will be documented.

Due to the fact that every employee creates and manages agency records to some extent, it is imperative that you train staff members so that they have a basic awareness of the record retention requirements relevant to their jobs. It must be made clear to them that they are personally responsible for documenting their work.

There are many different ways to educate your co-workers; experiment with various techniques to find those that work best for your situation. One strategy is to distribute the updated retention schedules to staff members and use the schedules to validate your expectations for their cooperation. The schedules may be difficult for them to understand, so it is important to use terminology that they can relate to; otherwise, they will likely ignore the policies that you are trying to initiate. Another technique is to take five minutes during every staff meeting to give tips or to train staff members on a single concept. Some records officers create fun annual trainings or entertaining video tutorials. The principal issue is that staff members understand the roles that they play in the management of your agency’s records; keep instructions simple and clear so that they are easy for staff to apply.