In 1972, Washington State was the scene of bipartisan support for campaign reform that included both a "sunshine law" and open record provisions for all governmental agencies (city, county, state). The result was I-276. Voters overwhelmingly passed this progressive initiative by a 74% majority. RCW 42:17-250 resulted and became law. It formed the Public Disclosure Commission which includes Campaign Reporting, and established new laws regarding Open Meetings, and Public Records/Public Information.
Washington State’s Public Records law requires all state agencies to identify records as legal, financial, and/or archival. Different records have different retention spans. Each agency must coordinate and file a public record schedule with the Secretary of State on behalf of all subdivisions (offices) within the agency. A guideline for record disposition is then returned to the agency. For instance, one year retention is typical for memos; two to five for business correspondence; seven years for information regarding contracts and bids, etc. Some records are labeled archival, or potentially archival or permanent, such as Board of Trustee agendas and minutes; student records, and employment records. Documents such as graduation programs are considered archival, while many printed or duplicated pieces such as drama programs, as well as some photographs are considered potentially archival. Agencies may choose to send archival records to a regional archive repository.
To reduce storage costs and protect certain records, the Division of Archives and Records Management may recommend that certain records be microfilmed. Agency record management must encompass electronic records although state guidelines regarding digital files (CD-ROM writers and tape backup for potential storage) stresses the need to retain equipment (hardware and software) necessary to "read" records in what may become (in the future) old technology.
Olympic College established a record management program in 1978 which includes college procedures for compliance with records storage and disposal, as well as response to public requests. When Olympic College receives a formal request for a record, the College must respond within five business days. If the request falls within the state guidelines, the record(s) must be made available within two business days. Denials fall into rather narrow categories and include personnel employment information, payroll tax records, certain contract/business records, real estate negotiations, loan information, certain health, death, and court/penal records. If the request is denied, it must accompany a written explanation citing the protection clause specifically and must be presented to the requester within two business days.
Other reasons to identify agency records are:
To prioritize those necessary to operate, or re-establish operations in the event of a natural disaster, civil disorder, accidental fire, etc.) so that information needed to function as normally as possible is available.
To reduce storage and file space through the process disposal system.
At Olympic College:
Records Custodian – An individual appointed by a senior-level administrator for each office/program/service area
Records Officer – Communications Department Director
This department is under the supervision of Joan Hanten, J.D., Vice President of College Relations.
For more information about Washington State's Record Management, see http://access.wa.gov *.
* Denotes an external link