Records management is an often overlooked issue in both public and private sector offices; however, this task is becoming more vital everyday. In this information age, everyone—from the average citizen to the largest corporation or government—must find a way to preserve, manage, store, and organize their records. Whether it is a neighbor finding this month’s phone bill and getting it paid on time, or General Motors keeping accurate wage and hour records on its employees, everyone needs a system for tracking documents and the information in them. Good managers will expend significant time and effort in planning and making decisions about their labor force and their facilities. Few take the time to think about their records. The records of an office are often as essential to its operation as its employees, facilities, and equipment. New employees can be hired and trained to replace those who leave; new office space and equipment can be leased or purchased to replace anything that is lost, even in the worst disasters. If your records are lost or destroyed, however, there is nowhere to go to purchase a replacement, and they often cannot be recreated.
For certain county officials, like the register of deeds or the clerk of a court, record keeping is one of the central duties and purposes of the office. For others, like highway departments or sheriff’s offices, record keeping is incidental to the fundamental purpose of the office—maintaining roads or law enforcement. Nevertheless, these offices must still comply with federal and state statutes that require accurate records regarding the personnel, finances, and other aspects of the office. Good records management practices will benefit both types of offices.