Reasons for Records Management
Space—In most counties, it is rare for a county office or courthouse to have all of the space it needs. Courthouses are bursting at the seams with old records stuffed into basements, storage closets, attics, and other more creative locations. Thus, it is cost effective for counties to implement a records management program.
Records Serve as a Legal Foundation—Local governments and the citizens they serve are both dependent upon good documentation to demonstrate their legal status. When disputes arise over legal issues, it is important to have good documentation to rely on. Local governments have an important responsibility to preserve these records. Proper records management will insure these records are preserved and can be found when needed.
Historical Preservation of Documents—Counties play a vital role in preserving our nation’s history. The documents and records of local governments give us insights into the lives of our ancestors and circumstances of our times. With proper records management, the important records are preserved, the less essential records are destroyed when no longer useful so they do not take up available space. The records are catalogued and organized so that officials and the public can access them. The records are stored under proper conditions to enable long term preservation.
Laws that Require Records to be Kept
Since county governments are instrumentalities of the state, most of the laws regarding what records need to be kept by county officials and how those records should be managed are found in the Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.). County officials should also be aware that federal laws and regulations require them to keep certain records. This is particularly true of payroll information and other employment related records. Not every record in a government office has a corresponding statute or regulation requiring that record to be kept. Many records are generated simply as an ordinary course of business without any legal authority mandating their creation.
For more information, see the Records Management topic.