Ripped from the Headlines: Conduct Government Business on Government Platforms
Dec 04, 2018
Once again, news outlets across the country are reporting stories about the questionable choices government officials make regarding how they deliver their official communications. We think it’s timely to remind our readers of one simple, immutable fact: government business needs to be conducted on official government communication platforms.
CoSA has been busy underscoring this message in several new publications it has co-developed for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and the National Governors Association (NGA).
CoSA and NASCIO recently issued a joint publication, State Archiving in the Digital Era: A Playbook for the Preservation of Electronic Records, with 11 “plays” for digital preservation. The plays outlined in the playbook should help state Chief Information Officers (CIOs), state archivists, and other state leaders think about the best ways to preserve archives in this digital era.
One of the most important plays in the CoSA-NASCIO playbook is #4 “Keeping Public Business on Public Platforms.” Conducting government business on government owned-resources is key to ensuring that government records are properly created, managed, preserved, and accessible. With public officials occasionally appearing in the news for using private servers or private accounts, the tenet that government officials should use government resources and accounts for the public’s business. “Keeping public records on public accounts simplifies the management and preservation of e-records, limits costly legal battles over public records, and makes long-term access of state electronic records much simpler,” according to this publication.
In two new publications for the NGA, First Steps in Managing Records: A Transition Priorityand Social Media and Public Records: Developing a Social Media Use Policy, records created in the course of government business are public records and subject to public records laws. They are best managed when platforms, policies, and procedures are in place and in use throughout the administration.
In 2015, CoSA joined with our colleagues at the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) to issue a Joint Statement on Conducting Public Business in Non-Government Email Accounts. This statement outlines the reason that public officials – federal, state, and local – should use their government accounts for government accountability and transparency. SAA recently issued an updated call for government officials to familiarize themselves with, and to follow, their jurisdiction’s legal guidelines on creating government records. Archivists and records managers endorse the proper creation and maintenance of government records by government officials, regardless of party affiliation or level of government.