Sunday, December 3, 2023

Taming the Data Beast: Records Managers Coordinate an Ever-Growing Mountain of Information

Almost every record created by a local government employee must be released, if requested.

But how does the city organize its documents so that the requested information is provided completely and within established timeframes? How does our organization ensure that the information is released in conformance with established legal rules? What do you do to ensure that documents are properly destroyed on an appropriate schedule?

The answer is simple: you hire a professional records manager. Or four.

In Southlake, Michelle DeVoss, Sarah Blum, Laura Alsina, and Lorrie Fletcher spend their days maintaining a high-quality records management program for the city and the Police Department. This complicated job requires basic records management duties but can also include responding to subpoenas issued by law enforcement agencies or the District Attorney’s Office, ensuring compliance with reporting requirements, and ensuring that records are stored properly. Working closely with departmental liaisons, these important employees also keep the city on track with the records retention program.

“The Police Department is most often involved in the worst moments of people’s lives. Once the crisis has passed, it is our records managers that provide the documentation that victims often need to move forward,” said Southlake Police Chief James Brandon. “They are such an important part of the Police Department’s mission and success.”

With each year, the complexity of the work increases as technology continues to evolve. Once, paper records were the primary consideration. Now, records managers not only have to worry about video recordings of meetings, but also body cam recordings and drone footage. This can mean long hours of watching recordings and obtaining new skills to properly redact confidential information.

City Secretary Amy Shelley notes that, “The work of records managers is a testament to their resilience, managing the ever-expanding mountain of records with grace and determination.”

“Complexity is a daily challenge,” said Shelley.

Thankfully, the records managers are professionals at managing that complexity. With their tireless commitment to maintaining efficient and organized records, the City of Southlake is able to uphold the world-class service that citizens deserve.