ARMAl International Supports Bill to Increase Online Public Access to California Records

    Jun 06, 2016

    In a May 9 letter to the California State Assembly, ARMA International called on the legislature to enact a bill (AB 2674) to require the secretary of state to establish an online archives program to be administered by the state archives for the purpose of providing online public access to state records and other records and items of historical and archival value. 

    “We appreciate your efforts to create a more open and transparent government by providing state archivists with the tools needed to comply with both the spirit and intent of the California Public Records Act and the State Records Management Act,” ARMA International wrote in its letter to the author of the legislation, Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). “AB 2674 will support the state archives’ mission by providing the resources and tools needed to receive, store, manage, preserve, and increase public access to records, including by accelerating the processing of analog records and enabling the extraction of key information from electronic records to make both more easily searchable.”

    The online archives program established by the bill would include developing, administering, and maintaining an archival, standards-based digital records preservation system for secure intake of, preservation of, indexing of, and public access to public records. By digitizing content and uploading it to an appropriate online platform linked to the state archives website, the program would maximize the public’s online access to the state archives’ records, photographs, exhibits, and other items that document and celebrate California history and culture.

    The program would also use social media platforms to regularly share digitized content to celebrate California history and culture, provide a historical perspective on contemporary issues and events, increase public awareness of the state archives’ collections of historical resources, and promote civic education and engagement.

    According to the legislative analysis of the bill, the state archives holds more than 125,000 cubic feet of paper-based records and approximately 22 terabytes of electronic records. While records are physically available at the state archives in Sacramento, none of the electronic records are available online and only a few paper-based records have been digitized and posted online, the report states.

    In its letter, ARMA International noted that enactment of AB 2674 would achieve two important aspects of the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles, namely providing accessibility and transparency of high value government records. Doing so, the letter states, would enhance the State of California’s reputation as a “catalyst for promoting information governance best practices among state governments and inspiring those who work to promote the enduring value of California’s historical records for current and future generations.”

    The measure is under consideration in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, which has estimated it would cost about $400,000 annually for three positions and digital storage fees. 

    The Washington Policy Brief is an online advisory that contains brief summaries of recent legislative and regulatory issues that may affect the records and information management profession. Further information about the issue is accessed by clicking on the link provided at the end of each summary.


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