Friday, January 17, 2014

Record keeping seminar instructs county officials in public documents

By JIM SECKLER/The Daily News Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014 11:30 PM MST KINGMAN — A specialist from the state’s records management division held a seminar Wednesday in Kingman on keeping and preserving public records. Jerry Lucente-Kirkpatrick, records management specialist for the Arizona Archives and Records Management, spoke to several dozen county employees at the county administration building as well as employees from neighboring counties who deal with keeping government records. ARM is part of the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, which manages government records. Lucente-Kirkpatrick gave a presentation explaining what a record is, how to manage records, the length of time to keep a record, how and when to dispose of records, electronic records and working with the public and the media in complying with public records requests. Records are defined as books, papers, maps, photos and other documents regardless of their physical form, made by a government agency with transactions with the public. E-mails and everything on a government computer is also public record. Not all records are public records. Records are not public if they are confidential, contain personal information or it is in the best interest of the state not to release it. * The records specialist said a copy of a document is not a record. He also spoke of the need to preserve vital essential records in the case of a flood or other natural disasters. Records are also kept for historical purposes including school records. If a private school goes out of business, those records still need to be preserved. Police and fire departments and colleges also keep records. An employee from the Bullhead City Police Department asked about scanning microfiche records to electronic formats. Lucente-Kirkpatrick gave an example of the historical record keeping of Downwinders, people living in Northern Mohave County who may have been affected by nuclear testing in the 1950s near Las Vegas. Lucente-Kirkpatrick also brought up whether records made by a private attorney with a contract with the county and their client are privileged files and should be preserved. Other issues include the management of records on Facebook, e-mails, social media and cloud-computing. Also brought up was whether a county government can charge for a public request for records. The public can be charged for a compact disc or paper copies of a record but not for an attachment to an e-mail. Lucente-Kirkpatrick also spoke of redacted sections of a public record. One employee asked if a government employee can direct the public to a government website instead of making a copy; however, some people may not have access to the Internet. Also discussed were commercial or non-commercial uses for public record requests.

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