Reader View: Cheers to effective and efficient state government

Linda Trujillo

At a public hearing on Aug. 25, the State Commission of Public Records voted unanimously to adopt a single functional records retention and disposition schedule. This new schedule replaces about 100 individual department schedules and around 6,000 existing record series. The effect date is Oct. 1, 2015.

Retention and disposition schedules are records management tools used to classify public records to ensure they are retained for an appropriate amount of time as required by law. Advances in technology have led to the prevalent use of electronic formats for the creation and dissemination of public records. The difficulty encountered by state employees in classifying email correspondence based on content has become increasingly evident. The transition to a functional schedule will greatly improve the management of public records and simplify email classification, which is a challenge experienced across state and local governments.

The development of the functional records retention and disposition schedule was an extensive process that required a close review of the nearly 6,000 existing record series to reclassify them according to function. Amazingly, our staff reduced this gigantic number of record series to a record-breaking 352 total classifications. It can’t be understated that this reduction will make state government more efficient while maintaining standards that protect the administrative, legal and financial purpose of the public records created by state agencies during the course of business.

The proposed rule was initially published for public comment on May 29, and three subsequent public meetings were held to provide for appropriate external review. In fact, a key component in the development of the finalized rule was input from agencies impacted by the rule change. The Commission of Public Records staff hosted roundtable discussions to facilitate discussion and address concerns. Modifications were incorporated in response to this feedback and the final rule was presented to the commission, culminating in the unanimous adoption of the rule.

Other states have employed outside vendors to perform this task, spending precious taxpayer funds. Completion of this task in-house saved the agency and the state considerable time and hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

I would personally like to express gratitude and acknowledge everyone, from all three branches of government, who took the time to provide input and for their respectful cooperation throughout this process. I especially want to thank the Commission of Public Records staff: Leo Lucero, records management division director; Jackie Garcia, agency analysis bureau chief; our agency analysts — Jennifer Camp, Susan Montoya, Tanya Vigil and Amanda Lopez; Felicia Lujan, New Mexico Archives Division director; Matt Ortiz, Administrative Law Division director; and Melissa Salazar, deputy state records administrator, for their commitment to the idea and dedication to the process.

These state employees are truly extraordinary.

Adoption of the rule has mostly been met with enthusiasm from agencies that are eager to begin utilizing the new classification system.

“We are extremely excited to begin planning our transition. … Improvements we see for our constituents include simplification of training and records identification based on the streamlined records classification and reduced use of records storage space based on the more efficient retention requirements. Thank you CPR Staff,” said Diane Madrid, director of Financial Systems Administration with New Mexico State University.

“The legislative agencies also appreciate the collaborative and cooperative nature of the discussions between its staff and the commission’s staff throughout this process” wrote Raúl Burciaga, director of the Legislative Council Service. Chief Judge Henry Alanis wrote in his letter to the commission, “The Metropolitan Court supports the Commission’s efforts to consolidate the numerous records retention provisions currently in the Administrative Code into one integrated series of rules.”

Cheers to effective and efficient state government.

Linda Trujillo is New Mexico’s state records administrator at the New Mexico Commission of Public Records.