Parsing the State of State Records Report: Jurisdictional Authority

Jan 14, 2020

Parsing the State of State Records Report: Jurisdictional Authority
 
by Veronica Martzahl
 
While the mission statements of state archives generally incorporate the sentiment of preserving and making accessible the records of state government, the scope of “state government” is not uniformly applied across all states and territories. CoSA asked state and territorial archives to assess their levels of statutory authority, resources, and activity for executive, legislative, judicial and local government records.  A variety of factors can restrict or expand the scope of an archive’s authority to support records created in all branches and jurisdictions of state and local government. Executive officers, legislatures and judicial officials frequently exempt themselves from public records regulations or make claims of exemption regardless of statutory dictates. Anecdotally, governors often try to send their records to their alma maters or other educational institution repositories. Beyond legal authority, there is also often a lack of resources appropriated for support of these groups leading to unfunded mandates to provide services.
 
State and territorial archives are frequently viewed as the authority to establish records related standards and guidelines. Respondents indicated “Strong” authority to establish records related standards and guidelines executive offices (35) and local government agencies (31) compared to legislative (13) and judicial branches (15). 
 
Archives report the highest level of authority to accession paper records from executive branch agencies (45) with a slight drop for electronic records (40) and audio-visual materials (38). Respondents indicate the next highest level of authority to accession records is for judicial branches followed by legislative offices. Authority to accession local government records trails slightly behind but is close to level across all record formats. 
 
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Category: General News

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