- Report Published -
|House Document No. 13|
PUBLICATION YEAR 2006
|Virginia Public Records Act, Electronic Records, and Their Effect on the State Depository system.|
|Division of Legislative Services, Joint Subcommittee|
|HJR 6 (Regular Session, 2004)|
|The 2004 General Assembly adopted House Joint Resolution 6, creating a joint subcommittee to study the Virginia Public Records Act, electronic records, and their effect on the state depository system. The joint subcommittee met throughout the 2004 and 2005 Interim and held numerous workgroup meetings to examine these issues and develop recommendations. Throughout the course of its work, the joint subcommittee received input from the Library of Virginia, state and local agencies, the press, access organizations, librarians, and interested members of the public. The joint subcommittee developed two legislative proposals that will be considered during the 2006 Session of the General Assembly.|
The first of these proposals, House Bill 209 (2006), proposes numerous changes to the Virginia Public Records Act ("the Act"). The Act sets forth policies and procedures governing the maintenance and archiving of public records. The proposed changes are an attempt to clarify that all records are subject to the Act, regardless of their physical form or characteristics, and to facilitate the maintenance and archiving of electronic records, which can pose some challenges not faced in the management of traditional paper records. The key proposed changes include:
▪ A requirement that all elected and appointed public officials receive a copy of the Act, and read and familiarize themselves with the Act. This requirement is similar to a current requirement in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
▪ Numerous changes to the definitions section of the Act, including the addition of definitions of "conversion," "electronic record," "essential public record," "lifecycle," "metadata," and "migration."
▪ A clarification that the Library of Virginia shall own and operate any equipment necessary to manage and retain control of electronic archival records in its custody.
▪ Amendments to the powers and duties of the State Library Board as they relate to the Act. These changes primarily remove references to particular types of media, and provide flexibility to allow the Library Board to promulgate regulations and guidelines concerning the lifecycle of public records. The changes also specifically allow the Library Board to establish advisory committees to assist it in developing regulations and guidelines.
▪ A requirement that agencies shall be responsible for managing records throughout their lifecycle, including migration and conversion of electronic records when necessary.
▪ A requirement that the Library of Virginia make available training and educational opportunities about the Act.
▪ Statutory authority for the Librarian of Virginia to audit the records management practices of any agency. A report of any audits shall be submitted to the Governor and certain legislative committees.
The joint subcommittee also reviewed the State Publications Depository Program ("the Program"), and developed the recommendations found in House Bill 210 (2006). The Program ensures that copies of official state publications are available at geographically diverse locations around the Commonwealth for ease of access to citizens. However, the Program currently only applies to printed publications, and state agencies are increasingly publishing documents electronically. The amendments seek to include all publications, regardless of medium, under the umbrella of the Program and to provide the Library flexibility in administering the program so as to be able to provide the greatest amount of access to the publications -- whether in print or electronic format. The recommended amendments include:
▪ The creation of a new chapter in Title 42.1 dedicated specifically to the Program, and the inclusion of a statement of policy.
▪ The ability of the Library of Virginia to request publication information from agencies, in addition to the publications themselves. This would apply in cases of electronic publications, where the Library may request certain metadata that would enable the Library to better catalog, disseminate, and make available the electronic publications, or may request the location of an electronic publication on-line.
▪ A requirements that all state agencies provide the information and publications requested by the Library of Virginia. Political subdivisions would only be required to provide publications if the Library specifically requested copies of a particular publication.
▪ A requirement that the Library of Virginia report annually to the Governor and certain legislative committees as to which agencies did not provide copies of their publications or other requested information.
A final report concerning the joint subcommittee's activities and recommendations will be submitted at a later date as House Document No. 13.