Public Information Act
Texas Government Code, Chapter 552 ensures public access to any open state record. The definition of what constitutes a public record is, “any information created or received in connection with the transaction of official business regardless of physical form.”
The legislative intent in enacting Chapter 552 was to insure that governmental agencies function in the open, and therefore ensures public access to information and records of governmental agencies.
Certain records are exempt from public inspection, although they are not exempt from the other provisions of the public records law. An entire document or parts of a document may be exempted from public inspection and copying. However, there must be specific statutory authority for a record to be exempt. Examples of exemptions to inspection are information about students (other than directory information), medical records, and certain information concerning research.
Texas Government Code, Chapter §441 establishes the duties and responsibilities of state agencies regarding Records Management, which include:
- Establish and maintain a Records Management Program on a continuing and active basis
- Create and maintain records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency designed to furnish information to protect the financial and legal rights of the state and any person affected by the activities of the agency
- When necessary make certain that all records of the agency are passed to the agency head's successor
- Identify and take adequate steps to protect confidential and vital state records
- Cooperate with the commission in the conduct of state agency Records Management surveys
- Cooperate with the commission, the director and librarian, and any other authorized designee of the director and librarian in fulfilling their duties under this subchapter
Administrative rules (13 TAC sections 6.91-6.99) establish the minimum requirements for the management of all electronic state records.
The head of each state agency, or the designated records management officer, is responsible for the program elements, which include:
- Administering an agency-wide program for the management of records created, received, maintained, used, or stored on electronic media
- Integrating the management of electronic records with other records and information resources management programs of the agency
- Incorporating electronic records management objectives, responsibilities, and authorities in agency directives
- Establishing procedures for addressing electronic records management requirements, including record keeping requirements and disposition
- Ensuring that training is provided for users of electronic records systems in the operation, care, and handling of the equipment, software, and media used in the system
- Ensuring the development and maintenance of up-to-date documentation about all electronic records systems that are adequate to specify all technical characteristics necessary for reading or processing the records and the timely, authorized disposition of records
- Specifying the location and media on which electronic records are maintained to meet retention requirements; and maintaining inventories of electronic records systems to facilitate disposition
- Appraising the agency's electronic records to develop the agency records retention schedule
- Securing approval of the records retention schedule and ensuring its implementation for use in the management and disposition of all agency records in all media
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