A Cost/benefit Analysis of the Records Management Program in the State of Texas

Article excerpt

The Texas Government Code, Chapter 441, mandates the Records Management Division (RMD) of the Texas State Library to manage all state records with the cooperation of heads of state agencies who are in charge of the records. Although this law went into effect in 1947, it was not until 1980 that plans began for full and effective implementation of Chapter 441. Under new directorship, the RMD developed long-range plans that set into motion strategic steps to establish a Statewide Program for uniform and effective records management practices throughout Texas state government. Priority was given to issuing policies and standardized guidelines, including a state records management manual, and to updating the 1974 recommended records retention schedule. From 1983 to 1987, the plan incorporated limited records management training and consulting services for state agencies. By 1985, the Manager of Records Services had begun working with a subcommittee of agency representatives that collected retention schedule information, was coordinating with the Attorney General's Office on legal issues and the State Auditor's Office on fiscal issues, and had begun crafting a recommended records retention schedule covering records series common to most state agencies.

The work culminated in the publication of the first Texas State Records Management Manual in 1988, including an updated recommended retention schedule. At the same time, a reorganization of RMD dedicated additional staff resources to consulting and training, with the goal of offering regularly scheduled classes and consulting services to state agencies as needed to implement uniform retention scheduling procedures.

Also significant in 1988 was the completion of a construction project that expanded the storage capacity of the existing State Records Center from 149,000 to 393,000 cubic feet, including the addition of environmentally controlled high-security vaults for the storage of microfilm and electronic media.

DESCRIPTION AND PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

Because of the combined activities pertaining to records management that culminated in 1988, for the purposes of this study, it is considered to be the starting date for full-phased implementation of the Statewide Program for Records Management affecting Texas state agencies. The current study consisted of a survey of Records Administrators in 155 state agencies.(1) The purpose of the study was to ascertain any cost savings/avoidance that might have accrued to the State of Texas as a direct result of RMD's active implementation of the Statewide Program.

The questionnaires were mailed during the fall and winter of 1991, and covered the 3-year fiscal period of 1989, 1990 and 1991. One portion of the questionnaire requested information on any changes in records management activities in the state agencies since 1988, and another portion requested information pertaining to realized cost savings/cost avoidance.

METHOD

A two-pronged approach was necessary in order to gather the most complete, accurate data. Initially, a survey questionnaire was mailed to each individual identified as a Records Administrator in each of the 155 Texas state agencies. Because telephone conversations and handwritten comments on the returned questionnaires revealed that a number of state agencies had not compiled or recorded volume and cost information that was requested, such data were gathered from records maintained at RMD. Follow-up phone calls to non-respondents resulted in a second mailing of questionnaires to increase validity and response rate. A second approach was taken in order to ensure accuracy: the statistics reported by each of the 119 responding state agencies were cross-checked with statistics maintained by RMD to verify volumes and activity levels. While this was being done, publicly available statistics compiled by the RMD for operating purposes were gathered and analyzed in order to complete the picture. …