A question/comment from one of our members regarding the change in Georgia Archives management:
We have been working on our Retention Schedule here and I was going to update our books with the Secretary of State’s schedule. But if this will be changing to UGA, please let me know how that is going to work.
You raise a very good question, but one that cannot be answered completely at this point in time, because we do not yet know exactly how the functioning of the Georgia Archives will be implemented within the University System, if and when its transfer to the Board of Regents, University System of Georgia is realized.
The piece of legislation, HB 287, which is likely to accomplish that transfer, was passed by the Georgia House yesterday (3/5). Now, it will be taken up by the Georgia Senate, where it must also be voted on and passed. Then, it must be signed by the Governor. All of these steps are expected to be accomplished, and if they are, the transfer will become effective July 1, 2013.
The Chancellor of the University System appointed a transition working group in early January which is working on how the transfer will be implemented if and when it occurs. But, they have not issued any report yet and are unlikely to do so until the legislative process has been completed.
There are several things I can tell you at this time.
HB 287 includes Section 2-5 (Lines 554 thru 563) which will amend O.C.G.A. 50-18-99(f) “relating to records management programs for local governments” so that the “Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, through the division” [which means, the Division of Archives and History, also referred to as the Georgia Archives , instead of the Secretary of State, “shall coordinate all records management matters for the purpose of this Code section. The division shall provide local governments with a list of common types of records maintained together with recommended retention periods and shall provide training and assistance as required. The division shall advise local governments of records of historical value which may be deposited in the state archives. All other records shall be maintained by the local government.”
Basically, this language is the same which exists in state law at this time, except that the administrative responsibility transfers from the Secretary of State’s Office to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. However, we do not yet know how or when updated local government records retention schedules would be issued, nor how or when training and assistance for local governments would be provided by the Georgia Archives as a unit of the University System.
HB 287 also includes Section 2-4 (Lines 535 thru 553) which will amend O.C.G.A. 50-18-92 “relating to the creation of the State Records Committee.” This bill continues a position on the State Records Committee for “an officer of a governing body, as such terms are defined in subsection (a) of Code Section 50-18-99″ [which says that " 'governing body' means the governing body of any county, municipality, or consolidated government. The term includes school boards of this state."]. The change which this bill makes is that this member of the committee would now be appointed by the Chancellor of the University System, rather than by the Secretary of State, or his designated representative. The text of this bill also continues the duty of the State Records Committee “to review, approve, disapprove, amend, or modify retention schedules submitted by agency heads, school boards, county governments, and municipal governments through the division for the disposition of records based on administrative, legal, fiscal, or historical values.” The change which this bill makes in the law is that “a retention schedule may be determined by four members of the committee.” Current law only requires approval of 3 members of the committee for that determination.
On February 26, 2013, the Presidents of 3 national professional organizations — the Council of State Archivists, the Society of American Archivists, and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators — sent a letter to Chancellor Hank M. Huckaby of the University System of Georgia in which they expressed several positions for consideration of the Board of Regents with regard to its likely upcoming administration of the Georgia Archives. Two of them are relevant to the relationship between Georgia local governments and the Georgia Archives. This is what they said in their letter:
“The Archives’ provision of services to, and collaboration with, local governments must be restored. From maintenance of statewide retention schedules to training and issuance of standards, the Georgia Archives’ engagement with local governments has been critically important in ensuring the completeness of the Georgia record.”
And, Following Hurricane Katrina, the Georgia Archives became a state and regional leader in disaster/emergency preparedness and response. Its role in providing training for state agencies and local governments ensured the protection of records that are essential for continuity of government operations. The Archives has worked closely with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency since 2005 to coordinate response for records, and this important relationship must be sustained.”
You may or may not be aware that for many months now there has been no staff at all in the former office of the Georgia Archives which formerly updated the local government records retention schedules and provided training and assistance services to local government staff members involved with records management. That office no longer exists within the Georgia Archives. Likewise, since November 1, 2012, there has been no staff at all in, and no office of, Preservation Services within the Georgia Archives, which is the office which formerly coordinated disaster/emergency preparedness and response training and assistance for local government staff members involved with records management.
We are hopeful that within the University System of Georgia these functions will be restored within the Georgia Archives. But, that is still unknown at this time.
You, and all local government records managers in Georgia, need to continue to monitor the legislative process of HB 287. And, you need to stay alert to any information which may be forthcoming in the next several months from the Chancellor, the Board of Regents, and/or the transition working group of the University System of Georgia which relates to the Georgia Archives. Cecil Banks is routinely forwarding to all GRA members information, including requests for assistance, from the Coalition to Preserve the Georgia Archives. If and when you receive a future request for assistance, such as for contacting your state legislators, it can be very important and critical that you help.
I would strongly encourage local government records managers, and/or the chief elected or appointed official of your local government, to write, call, and/or email several public officials and let them know that you strongly support the restoration and continuation of the roles which the Georgia Archives has filled for local governments, as they were expressed by the Presidents of the 3 national organizations. The public officials which you should contact are: your State Senators and State Representatives, and your community’s representative on the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
Things are still in flux with regard to the Georgia Archives. I hope that this information will help you understand where the transitional process is at this time and how local government records management may be impacted to the extent that is known at this time.
Please feel free to share this information with other City Clerks and other local government records managers. And, let me know if I can try to answer any additional questions for you.
Mrs. Glenda E. A. Anderson, Member
Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board
P.S. Once again, a copy of HB 287 is available online at www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/20132014/HB/287