LGR ELECTRONIC RECORDS STATEMENT
LGR PUBLICATIONS and GUIDELINES
JUST THE BASICS
OHIO NETWORK OF
OHIO REVISED CODE
Local Government Records (LGR) Program
Electronic Records Statement
In response to the increasing call for guidance in the challenges and
opportunities electronic records present, the OHS LGR Program has drafted
an electronic records statement in order to (a) provide electronic records
guidance for local governments; and (b) support the creation and maintenance
of electronic records to their ensure integrity, usability and survivability.
Recorded information is vital to the operation of Ohio government. Under
state law, each local government entity must establish and maintain a
program for the management of the recorded information that they produce.
The state law also strongly favors a commitment to providing access to
public records. The policies and practices developed by most local governments
have, for the most part, been sufficient when applied to traditional paper
records. However, now that local government entities have become increasingly
dependent on computer technology to accomplish their basic functions,
there is an urgent need for new policies and guidelines that deal with
records in electronic formats.
During the past decade, records management practices in local governments
have been revolutionized. New information technologies from mainframes,
to PC's, to local area networks and the Internet have transformed the
way governments create, use, disseminate, and store information. These
new technologies offer a vastly enhanced means of collecting information
for and about citizens, communicating within government and with the public,
and documenting the business of government. Like other modern organizations,
Ohio's local governments face challenges in managing and preserving their
records because records are increasingly generated and stored in computer-based
This electronic records statement is intended to establish principles
for local governments to follow as they develop their own practices and
systems for making and keeping records in the electronic environment.
According to the Ohio Revised Code a record is defined as:
"…any document, device, or item, regardless of physical form or characteristic,
created or received by or coming under the jurisdiction of any public
office of the state or its political subdivisions, which serves to
document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures,
operations, or other activities or the office." (ORC 149.011)
Electronic records are records that contain machine readable information.
The information may be text, numbers, graphs, line drawings, pictures,
images, or sound. Examples of electronic records include word processing
files, spreadsheet files, presentation graphics, electronic images, databases,
audio or video recordings, and e-mail. Electronic records may occupy media
such as magnetic disks or tapes; audio or video cassettes; and compact
or optical disks.
- Electronic information is a record if it satisfies the criteria
defined by Ohio law.
- Electronic records are compilations of data that are created or
received by a local government entity or employee during the course
of official duties and that document the organization, functions,
policies, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office,
as defined by ORC 149.011.
- In an electronic environment, records may exist in structures other
than that of familiar documents traditionally found in paper formats.
- Electronic records may be public records as defined by ORC 149.43
and thus subject to the public access provisions of ORC 149.43
- Electronic records are subject to audit and legal proceedings such
as discovery and subpoenas.
Electronic records should be managed effectively as part of a comprehensive
records management program.
Local governments should create, maintain and manage their electronic
records in compliance with standards, best practices and guidelines.
- Local governments should make the fullest possible commitment to
the use of open, public, non-proprietary standards that facilitate
communication between multiple systems and software.
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or other industry-wide
standards, LGR issued guidelines and best practices should be used
Work processes and tools should support the creation and maintenance
of electronic records.
- Provisions for adequate maintenance, disposal and preservation of
electronic records should be built into work processes and tools so
that electronic records management is a routine and time efficient
- Appropriate descriptive metadata about electronic records must be
captured at the time of record creation. Unlike paper records, that
data cannot be determined at a later date.
- Appropriate records management principles should be an essential
component in the design of new systems or the upgrading of existing
Electronic records should be created in reliable and secure systems.
- Local government entities should identify systems that create and
maintain electronic records. The development, modification, operation,
and use of these systems should be documented and measures should
be taken to ensure reliability and security of records over time.
- Reliability refers to a record's authority and trustworthiness
at the time of creation. To ensure reliability, agencies must establish
procedures for creating official records electronically.
- Agencies must take measures to prevent unauthorized access to electronic
- Data must be captured which document the context, content and structure
of electronic records. Context establishes who created the
record and the transaction of which it was a part. Content
is the actual data. Structure is the format of the record.
Structure must be captured so that the record can be migrated into
the latest generation of hardware and software as necessary.
In most cases, electronic records should be maintained in electronic
form, because preserving the context, content and structure of and facilitating
access to those records are best accomplished in the electronic environment.
- Electronic records can be classified as system-dependent or -independent.
- System-dependent records are records that require an electronic
environment to provide meaning, context or accessibility. System-dependent
records should be migrated as necessary, at least every five years.
- System-independent records are records that can exist independently
of an electronic environment. System-independent records may be reformatted,
with necessary metadata, into an eye-readable media.
Maintaining and providing access to electronic records over time is
a shared responsibility.
- Local government records managers, records commissions, information
technology managers and the OHS LGR Program must work together to
manage, preserve and provide access to electronic records.
- Transferring all historically significant electronic records from
the originating local government entity to the OHS or a regional network
center may be neither cost effective nor practically feasible. When
OHS or a regional network center does not take physical custody of
electronic records with enduring historical value, LGR Program staff
will provide appropriate guidance to ensure long term accessibility
and physical preservation.
Electronic Records Resources
The following resources can provide more guidance on specific electronic
Digital Imaging Guidelines
Guidelines for Managing Electronic Mail
Schedules for Administrative Electronic Records
Systems Handbook (in progress)
Ohio Electronic Records Committee