Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2004 

HJR 6: Joint Subcommittee Studying the Virginia Public Records Act

August 18, 2004

The joint subcommittee was briefed by staff as to the scope of the study and the general issues requiring an examination of the Virginia Public Records Act (PRA) and electronic records. The 11-member joint subcommittee is tasked with studying the PRA, electronic records, and their effect on the state depository system. Specifically, the joint subcommittee will review the authority of the Library of Virginia to establish and maintain guidelines for the creation, transfer, and archival preservation of electronic state records and publications; review the authority for the authentication of electronic records; and review the scope of the PRA to establish a means to identify, receive, and manage electronic government information products covered by copyright.

Scope of the Study

Generally, the increasing use of electronic media for the creation and storage of government records raises several issues about archiving electronic records and using the Internet to publish state reports. The Library of Virginia administers the PRA to manage the Common-wealth’s records as well as to administer the State Document Depository Program. While the use of electronic records presents many cost-saving opportunities, the Library of Virginia faces a host of complex management issues, such as storage of electronic records, software and hardware compatibility questions, authentication of electronic records, and copyright issues involving the use of government information products. At the heart of the study is a need to determine what authority the Library may require to continue to effectively manage the state’s records.

The joint subcommittee also heard presentations by representatives from the Library of Virginia concerning the current state of the Library’s authority under the PRA and the State Documents Depository Program. The representatives explained that retention schedules are established for public records to determine when certain records may be disposed of and which records must be maintained permanently. Generally, a record is considered “archival,” or permanent, if it has continuing and enduring administrative, legal, fiscal or historical value.

Representatives also provided an overview of the State Records Depository Program. Currently, the Library receives 20 copies of all government publications, and distributes those copies to 12 geographically diverse libraries around the Commonwealth. The program was established in 1981 to ensure public access to a broad range of state government information.

Work Plan

At the conclusion of the presentations, the joint subcommittee adopted a preliminary work plan to guide the work of the two-year study. The study plans to look at national issues and best practices, devote a meeting to studying issues relating to the State Documents Depository Program, study electronic record management issues, and review the authentication of electronic records. The joint subcommittee indicated that it will likely form subcommittees to address some of the more complex issues.

The Hon. M. Kirkland Cox

For information, contact:
Lisa Wallmeyer
Division of Legislative Services

Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2004 


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