Kentucky's Public Record Law: KRS 171.410 - 171.740
The head of a public agency has a key role in ensuring the implementation of a records management program. Under the terms of KRS 171.680, the agency head is required to establish and maintain an active, continuing program for the economical, efficient management of the records of his or her agency. The law mandates that the program should include:
- effective controls over the creation, maintenance, and use of records in the conduct of current business;
- cooperation with KDLA in applying standards, procedures, and techniques designed to improve the management of records;
- promotion of the maintenance and security of records considered appropriate for preservation, and facilitation of the segregation and disposal of records of temporary value; and
- compliance with the provisions of the Commonwealth's public records management statutes, KRS 171.410 - 171.740, and the rules and regulations of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives.
An essential part of a fully implemented records management program is regular application and use of an approved records retention schedule. A schedule is a list of each records type, what is termed a "record series," created by an institution. A current, accurate records retention schedule should represent a comprehensive inventory of the information resources of an institution.
An agency's Records Officer, representing the agency head and named by him or her to serve as liaison for records management issues with KDLA, typically works with the agency's staff to compile the schedule in draft form, prior to its review by KDLA personnel and the State Archives and Records Commission. Once the schedule (or updates to
it) is approved by the Commission, the agency may apply the schedule to its records management needs, with the confidence that it has the legal authority to make disposition of its records following the directions contained in the schedule.
While the schedule is a comprehensive expression of the agency's information resources, it also reflects the way an agency meets the requirements of KRS 171.640. Under its terms, the agency head is also responsible for seeing that records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organizational functions, policies, decisions,
procedures, and essential transactions of the agency - records designed to furnish information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the government and of persons directly affected by the agency's activities - are made and preserved.
Another important role delegated to the agency is ensuring the proper storage of records. By the terms of KRS 171.690, whenever agency heads determine that substantial economies or increased operating efficiency can be achieved, they are directed to provide for the storage, processing and servicing of appropriate records in the records center maintained and operated by KDLA, or, when approved by KDLA, in a location maintained and operated by the agency itself. Providing for the protection of records is another essential responsibility delegated to agencies, and as directed by KRS 171.710, the agency head is required to establish those safeguards against removal or loss of records that are believed necessary or which may be required by KDLA rules and regulations. These safeguards must include advising all officials and employees of the agency that no records are to be
transferred to another party or destroyed except in accordance with law, and calling their attention to the penalties provided by law for the unlawful removal or destruction of records.
The agency head is also directed to notify KDLA of any actual, impending or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration or destruction of records in the custody of the agency which may come to his or her attention, and with KDLA's assistance, to initiate action through the Attorney General for recovery of any records which may have been unlawfully removed and for any other redress which may be provided for under the law.
The agency head plays an important role in the records management process, and in all of these actions, he or she can depend upon the cooperation of KDLA staff and the State Archives and Records Commission.