Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2005

HJR 6: Joint Subcommittee Studying Electronic Records and their impact on the VA Public Records Act and the State Publications Depository Program

November 28, 2005

The joint subcommittee studying the Virginia Public Records Act and electronic records held its final meeting on November 28 in Richmond. Over the course of the two-year study, the joint subcommittee has reviewed the Public Records Act and the State Publications Depository Program administered by the Library of Virginia, in light of the new challenges posed by electronic records and electronic publications.


The joint subcommittee had previously adopted recommendations to amend the State Publications Depository Program. These changes will allow the Library of Virginia to establish a means to receive and collect state agency publications that only exist in electronic format. Currently, the statutory language authorizing the Depository Program only contemplates the inclusion of printed publications.


Over the last several months, workgroups were held with parties interested in revisions to the Virginia Public Records Act. The public input and suggestions culminated in a final proposal that was adopted by the joint subcommittee on November 28. In addition to making numerous technical changes, the bill creates several new definitions, such as "electronic records," "lifecycle," metadata," "conversion," and "migration." The bill introduces new language that requires an agency to manage records over their complete lifecycle?from creation to destruction or archiving?which includes a duty to convert and migrate records whenever necessary to ensure continuing access to that record. When dealing with electronic records, correct lifecycle management is essential to ensure that an archived electronic record will continue to be readable and accessible. In addition, the proposal will provide the State Library Board with general authority to promulgate regulations and guidelines related to lifecycle management.

During the course of the workgroups, it became apparent that enforcement of the current Public Records Act is often problematic. Due to policy and resource considerations, the joint subcommittee did not want to impart enforcement responsibilities to the Library, and thus turn the Library into the "records police." However, discussions indicated that for those agencies that do not fully comply with the Public Records Act or cooperate with the Library of Virginia, a lack of education might be at the root of the problem.


As a result of discussion, the joint subcommittee recommended that all elected and appointed officials receive a copy of the Public Records Act, which mirrors a similar provision in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Agencies must notify the Library of Virginia of the name and contact information for that agency's records administrator, and the Library must provided educational and training opportunities related to the Public Records Act -- a provision that will reflect current practice. Finally, the proposal would allow, but not require, the Library to conduct a records practices audit of any agency that it felt was not complying with the Public Records Act, and the results of the audit would be forwarded to the Governor and the General Assembly.


This meeting concluded the work of the joint subcommittee, and a final report will be filed. Copies of the proposed legislation are available for review on the joint subcommittee's webpage.

The Hon. M. Kirkland Cox

For information, contact:
Lisa Wallmeyer and Patrick Cushing
DLS Staff



Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2005 

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