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There has been a spotlight on the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) in the media lately, largely due to recent violations. Under KORA, any individual can request public records from government bodies. If all requested records are not provided within in a specific timeframe, these organizations are subject to significant repercussions. This is merely one example of a ‘sunshine law’. The purpose of sunshine laws is to provide transparency into government agencies by giving the public access to local government proceedings.
Because of the possibility of unexpected records requests, information management professionals need to pay close attention to the location and lifecycle of all content that may become a record, otherwise they put their organization at risk of legal ramifications. This can be a time consuming and tedious task for small organizations, let alone those with a large record count.
The three tips below can help your organization get on track with Open Record Law compliance:
While many records managers may abide by information management processes, getting end-users to comply with these procedures can be a struggle. The average end-user tends to be more focused on their own workflow rather than the lifecycle of the document in use. This disconnect can put an organization at risk of being non-compliant with set regulations. The first step to successful records management is to analyze these types of hurdles and compose a plan to combat them.
Retention schedules vary depending on types of documents and their regulations. It is important to have accurate information regarding these schedules in order to implement them correctly. In big organizations, keeping track of numerous retention periods can be intimidating. Fortunately, ECM software can assist in automating the retention and disposition process. This can greatly reduce the manual workload for records managers as well as ensure compliance with open records law.
The inability to search and find records can pose a problem in responding to Open Record Law requests. If a government entity receives a request for all records pertaining to a certain subject, they are obligated to locate and present those records in a timely fashion. Proper indexing and immediate retrieval of records can make this a seamless process. This is where federated records management comes in to play. By using a single dashboard with a unified search experience, end-users can quickly search and locate records.
Along with the federal Freedom of Information Act, most states and even many municipalities have their own versions of this type of law that organizations must comply with and be prepared for. The key to complying with open records laws is to keep in mind the public’s right to access certain records. Using these tips can help prepare for an unexpected Open Record Law requests and ensure civil laws are not broken. Although actions to achieve regulatory compliance with records laws can seem overly complicated, creating a plan and knowing your organization’s options is a helpful start. Stay ahead of the chaos and stay compliant!