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State archives still important in digital age

Despite ease of storing records on agency computers, some historical records — and records that must be maintained permanently — are still housed at the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Staff Writer Modified: February 9, 2013 at 1:14 am •  Published: February 11, 2013

Claims and invoices, including travel vouchers, must be retained one year after an agency audit is completed. Employee time cards must be kept three years, meeting minutes must be kept two, and correspondence must be kept and reviewed on an annual basis until they are three years old.

In the age of email, it's just easier for state agencies to manage correspondence.

John Estus, spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said most emails sent or received by government employees are automatically stored on an agency's email server.

They can then be retrieved through simple keyword queries, Estus said.

The difficulty in responding to records requests is not in locating and pulling the documents, but in reviewing and redacting them, he said.

“The agency review is obviously the far more time-consuming process than the electronic search,” Estes said. “It requires careful review of every record whereas the server search does not. Depending on the volume of records retrieved, it could take days, weeks or months for agencies to adequately review them.”

Davis said storing documents digitally does indeed take up less space, but that she believes it costs more than keeping hard copies in the archives.

It costs about 30 cents a month to keep a box of 2,500 time sheets in the archives, she said, or about $3.60 per year.

For digital records, the state pays for servers, for time deleting the records and the costs of migrating the information from old technology to new, she said.