Records Management is the professional practice of identifying, classifying, preserving, and disposing the records of an organization, while capturing and maintaining the evidence of an organization’s business activities as well as the reducing the risks associated with it.
Records Management includes three primary components:
- Records Management Program
- Forms Management Program
- Media Services
The Records Management Program is responsible for the supervision and administration of state records. The Forms Management Program is responsible for maintaining quality state forms. Media Services provides microfilming services, a viable, low-cost media option for the long-term storage of records that are referenced infrequently when the cost of electronic or physical storage is excessive.
Together, these practices make state agencies more efficient, personnel more productive, minimize costs, improve storage and retrieval systems, and protect agencies from litigation risks regarding record-keeping practices.
According to NDCC 54.46.02, "Record" means document, book, paper, photograph, sound recording or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of official business.
To help identify whether your document or information is considered a record, use this helpful chart: Is it a Record?
A key component of any comprehensive records management program is researching and preparing records retention schedules that identify how long records are to be maintained. Administrative, fiscal, historical, and legal requirements are considered when establishing retention timeframes.
Agency-Specific Retention Schedules should be used in conjunction with the North Dakota General Schedule to manage retention. The ND General Schedule contains record series that are common used by all agencies. Records that apply to one State Agency or have legal or administrative requirements that differ from the ND General Schedule should be kept on an Agency-Specific Retention Schedule.
Click on the following links for more information:
NDIT Records Management recommends a subject classification system designed to meet the special and individual needs found within each office. This classification system can be used for managing any type of record, paper or electronic and to determine a Records Control Number (RCN) based on the content of the record.
Currently there are 31 subjects of the State of ND Subject Classification System. They are defined here: Subject Classification System (RCN Categories)
If records are identified as having historical value by the State Archivist, they must be disposed/transferred to the State Archives once the retention period has been met.
Agencies should work directly with State Archives staff to arrange pickup of physical records or transfer of electronic records.
Process for transferring electronic records can be found here: Electronic Records - State Archives State Historical Society of North Dakota (nd.gov)
Process for transferring physical records:
- Records designated for transfer to the State Archives are placed in boxes.
- State agencies must use sturdy, uniform-size records boxes, such as banker's boxes.
- When packing records for transfer to the State Archives, maintain the existing arrangement of the files. Records must not be removed from file folders and the existing arrangement of the files must not be changed. Boxes must be packed to allow easy removal of files. Do not stuff boxes or pile extra files horizontally on top of vertical files. File folders may be stacked horizontally if there are not enough to fill the box properly. Do not mix record series.
- A box should contain only one record series unless the series is too small to fill a box properly. Odd-size records, such as bound volumes, maps, and charts, require special handling. Advise the State Archives of the nature of odd-size records so special arrangements can be made for transfer. If file inventories, indexes, keys, and other finding aids to the records are retained for office use, make copies of the finding aids and send them along with the records.
- Label all boxes in the lower left corner on the front of the box. Use ink to mark the record series title, record control number (from the records retention schedule), and the box number. Information, such as file numbers, serial numbers, or alphabetical designations, should be noted on the box.
- Contact the State Archives when ready to transfer records. In most cases, State Archives personnel will remove records from your offices and transfer them to the State Archives in the North Dakota Heritage Center. Confidential records will remain on confidential status when transferred to the State Archives. These records will not be open for public inspection.
- State law requires certification of records transferred to the State Archives. The State Archivist will issue the agency a State Archives Receipt.
Agencies will report the disposition of these records in RMS as part of the annual disposal process.
A form is a tool to get a job done. It performs a function in work communication. The end result of any job is only as good as the tools used in performing the work. A form typically does one or more of three things: it initiates an action, records a transaction, or reports something.
The Century Code definition of a form is found in Section 54-44.6-02: "Form" means any document designed to record information, and containing blank spaces and which may contain headings, captions, boxes or other printed or written devices to guide the entry and interpretation of the information.
As part of the requirements of U.S.C.552a (Privacy Act of 1974), forms requesting a Social Security Number (SSN) must include the following information:
- Authority: The legal authority for collecting the information and whether disclosure of such information is mandatory or voluntary;
- Purpose: The purpose(s) for which the information will be used; and
- Effect(s) of not providing the information, if any.
A statement that summarizes this information must be included on any forms requesting a social security number.
To comply with the North Dakota Century Code, NDIT Records Management has a central numbering system for all state forms. The state form number (SFN) must be printed on all forms in the title block.
A State Form Number (SFN) would be required in the following situations:
- Documents that contain fill-in-the-blank areas.
- Checklists that show a burden of proof that a process or procedure has been followed (prove an action or steps were taken) or if there are additional fields to be completed.
- Regardless if forms are distributed internally or externally to the department.
- Could be completed in hardcopy, electronic, or web-based format.
The following items would NOT require a State Form Number (SFN):
- Read and sign documents where only a signature and date are required (i.e. agreements, contracts).
- Checklists where the sole purpose is to check items off.
- Data capture screens developed as part of a web-based application or system.
Contact NDIT Records Management if you need assistance in determining whether a document requires a State Form Number.
Each state form number is unique. The number is not duplicated on any other active form, either within a department or on the entire state form numbering system. Agency forms coordinators are responsible to see that their agency uses the state form numbering system for indexing, inventory, and identification of their forms. The state form number will be the permanent identification number for a form.
When a form becomes obsolete, the state form number will be retired. Agency forms coordinators are responsible for notifying NDIT Records Management about obsolete forms.
1. All forms must be identified with a title block that contains:
- The title of the form to identify accurately the function or purpose of the form.
- The name of the agency that is the source responsible for the form.
- The state form number (SFN).
- The revision date of the form (not required for online forms).
2. The title block must be placed in the upper left corner of the form whenever possible.
3. The Great Seal of the State of North Dakota or agency logo must be part of the title block (not required for online forms).
4. If the Great Seal of the State of North Dakota is not used, the words "North Dakota" must be included in the name of the agency in the title block.
5. Forms must not be printed or reproduced on letterhead.
PAPER AND INK
1. The standard size paper for state forms is 8 1/2 X 11 inches, and sizes that can be cut from that size with a minimum of waste.
2. The standard color for state forms is white (paper or background), unless volume of usage or other factors justify the use of colored paper.
3. The standard color ink/font for state forms is black. Only one color of ink will be used on a form.
4. All state forms must be readily and clearly reproducible on copy machines and scanners.
5. If the printing process for a form requires collating or padding, all parts of the form will be on the same size paper.
6. Forms for senior citizens and persons with visual disabilities will be printed on matte finished paper with readable type style in black ink.
1. Captions must be brief, clear, and concise.
- A caption must only cover one item or point.
- Captions must be worded to avoid confusion.
2. Forms must be designed in a box format with upper left captions.
- Type size must be 8-point or larger, where appropriate.
- Type style must be sans serif, regular weight.
- Bold type may be used for headings, but not for captions.
- Italic type may be used for instructions, but not captions.
- Script or cursive type style must not be used on any form.
- Type must be in lower case with only appropriate capitalization.
1. Standard vertical spacing (throw) on forms is:
- Entry fields should be 3/8" in height.
- Uniform layout over the entire form.
2. Standard horizontal spacing (pitch) on forms is:
- Determined through forms analysis.
- Designed to fit data to be gathered by the form.
- Designed to fit the method or equipment used with the form.
- Uniform layout over the entire form.
3. Routine space requirements are defined within Space Requirements for Forms.
1. All State of North Dakota forms must have a professional appearance.
- No decorations or embellishments.
- No more than two type styles on a form.
- Shading or screening are not to be used for decorative purposes.
2. Forms must be simple and easy to read and complete.
- Clear black ink/font.
- Clean, neat, basic good design.
- No typographical or grammatical errors.
- Adequate "white space" to enhance appearance.
- Economical use of space on the page without excessive white spaces.
- No names of any person will be used on a state form.
The North Dakota Century Code directs the state forms management program to develop and implement standards for design.
Click here to view the principles: State Forms Design Principles
Is an online form right for your needs? If you are looking to collect data from your users through a website or mobile device and do not need a physical/printed form, JotForm may be your ideal solution.
Click here for information about the JotForm platform, including design standards for online forms: Enterprise Data Collection Platform (Online Forms) | North Dakota Information Technology (nd.gov)
The NDIT Records Management System (RMS) is used to house record series (retention schedule) and state form number (SFN) details. Agency Coordinators will be granted rights to this system based on role.
RMS is used for the following:
• View record series information
• Submit, track and approve record series changes
• Report/Certify records disposals as complete annually
• View state forms details
• Certify forms inventory (list of SFN’s) annually
More information: Records Management System User Guide
Click here to access RMS: Records Management System Login
The Records Coordinator is the liaison between the state agency and NDIT in carrying out records management program requirements.
Records Coordinator roles & responsibilities are outlined here: Records Coordinator Training
The Forms Coordinator is the liaison between the state agency and NDIT in carrying out program requirement for managing and maintaining state forms.
Forms Coordinator roles & responsibilities are outlined here: Forms Coordinator Training
For more information on the North Dakota Century Code statutes, please refer to the North Dakota Legislative Branch website.
North Dakota Open Record Statute
- NDCC 44-04-18. Access to public records – Electronically stored information
- NDCC 44-04-18.1. Public employee personal, medical, and employee assistance records - Confidentiality - Personal information maintained by state entities
- NDCC 12.1-11-05. Tampering with public records
- NDCC 12.1-11-06. Public servant refusing to perform duty
Records Management Authority
- NDCC 54-46. Records Management
Forms Management Authority
- NDCC 54-44.6. Forms Management
- NDCC 9-16. Electronic Transactions
Reproductions Admissible in Evidence
- NDCC 54-46.1-03. Reproductions admissible in evidence - Preparation of copies
- NDCC 31-08-01.1. Certain copies of business and public records admissible in evidence
- NDCC 55-02.1. Archival Resources and State Archivist
North Dakota’s laws state that all government records and meetings must be open to the public unless otherwise authorized by a specific law. The basic laws are found in North Dakota Century Code, beginning at §44-04-17.1. The public has the right to know how government functions are performed and how public funds are spent.
Click here for more information: Open Records and Meetings Guide
When an agency is involved in an ongoing audit, litigation, or investigation, it may be necessary to suspend all destruction of records that may be involved in resolving the issue. Upon learning of actual, pending, or possible litigation, audit, or investigation, the records coordinator should work with management and legal counsel to immediately notify all employees to cease destruction of records, including paper, microforms, or electronic information. All records should be retained until such time as management and legal counsel can determine the scope of the action.
Management or legal counsel will review the action and determine which records will be required. Upon completion of the review, approval to continue normal disposal of unneeded records and files, which are not included in the action, should be provided. Records needed in the action must be retained until specific approval for disposal is provided.
Refer to the Litigation Hold information on the Risk Management site for more information and to obtain a copy of the Destruction Hold Notice (SFN 52376):
Electronic records are the predominant record type of the future. However, the hardware and software associated with electronic media can become obsolete, creating a cycle that requires data migration in as little as 5-7 years. To offset the obsolescence factor of electronic records, roll film remains a viable, low-cost media option for the long-term storage of records that are referenced infrequently when the cost of electronic or physical storage is excessive.
The Standards for Microfilming North Dakota Public Records and the media services offered by NDIT continue to play a part in the state's records management program. While much of the work is outsourced, NDIT continues to coordinate media services that include:
- Converting images to microfilm
- Processing roll film
- Duplicating roll film and microfiche
- Creating paper prints or digital images from roll film and microfiche
- Maintaining original microforms
The following are Records and Information Management Associations that provide helpful services and resources in the field. For more information, please contact NDIT Records Management.