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Records Management Training Lacking

Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2011 6:12pm
Council Staff Training Lapsed
From 2007 Until Lawsuit Filed

Only One Current Staff Member Had
Taken Training, City Records Show

Investigative Report by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2011

The bad news is that the staff of the mayor and council members had not taken any training in managing local government records in many years.There are no state or local laws that make such training mandatory.

The good news is these employees started taking this training soon after The Austin Bulldog filed a lawsuit against the mayor, council members, and City of Austin over failures to comply with the Texas Public Information Act, Government Code Chapter 552.

The Austin Bulldog’s April 6 report detailed deficiencies in how council members and their staff have failed to collect, assemble, and maintain local government records as required by the Local Government Records Act and the city’s Local Government Records Control Schedules. The city also permitted every city official and employee to conduct public business by creating or receiving local government records via e-mail and to keep them secret by using personal e-mail accounts.

These recordkeeping deficiencies make it virtually impossible for city officials to respond in a complete and timely manner to requests filed by citizens and journalists under the Texas Public Information Act.

As reported by The Austin Bulldog April 15, the City Council has adopted a new policy to require council members and the officials they appoint to use city e-mail addresses as the primary means of communicating via e-mail. When personal e-mail accounts are used for city business the policy requires prompt forwarding to a city account.

The council directed the city manager and city clerk to develop similar policies for other city employees and members of sovereign boards and commissions.

Dearth of records management training