The State of Montana’s Local Government Records Committee on May 20 voted to adopt ARMA International’s Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles® (Principles) as the standards for retaining long-term electronic records. The committee was created by the state legislature in 1993 to oversee the preservation and disposal of public records kept by local governments and school districts.
Before taking effect, the Montana secretary of state is required to adopt an amendment to the state’s administrative rules governing records and information management, subject to a public hearing. A public hearing notice is expected to be issued sometime in June. If adopted, Montana will become the first state to adopt the Principles as records retention guidelines.
ARMA adopted and promulgated the Principles in 2013 as an information governance framework for organizations to use in managing their regulatory, legal, risk mitigation, environmental, and operational requirements with regard to records. They incorporate global best practices identified by leaders in the legal, information technology, and records and information management professions.
A draft of the proposed rule change would amend a section of Montana’s administrative code dealing with storage requirements for electronically stored documents with a greater than 10-year retention requirement. Under the current rule, original long-term documents that are electronically stored must be maintained in paper form, or they may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of if copies are maintained on archival-quality microfilm.
The proposed rule change would replace part of the rule with language adopting the Principles by reference for local governments using electronic systems to store long-term records. The amendment encourages local governments to use the Principles as the framework to design, implement, operate, and decommission information systems and to manage the records and data within the systems.
“We commend the Montana’s Local Government Records Committee for recognizing the value of referencing the Principles in the state’s administrative rules governing electronic records, and we encourage other governmental jurisdictions to follow Montana’s lead,” said Liz Icenogle, ARMA’s director of government relations. “The Principles provide standards and practices that are particularly useful tools for informing information governance professionals inside and outside of government on what must be done to modernize their approach to accepting, storing, and providing public access to records.”
The Principles are also embodied in the Information Governance Maturity Model (Maturity Model) developed by ARMA to provide a way for organizations to benchmark, improve, and govern their information. The Maturity Model proscribes eight principles of information governance (accountability, transparency, integrity, protection, compliance, availability, retention, and disposition) and five levels of maturity to help organizations progress through a spectrum of increasing competence and effectiveness.