What exactly is a record
For those of us who remember carbon paper and onionskin, the record
copy was the easily identifiable original document and the carbon
copies were the convenience copies. But when ten copies of a record are
printed from the laser printer, which one is the record copy?
The record copy is the official record or most important copy of the
document retained by the department responsible for maintenance and disposition
of the record.
Each record series has a record copy and may have convenience copies
retained in other departments within the organization. Convenience
copies are all the other copies of the record which are not the
In the Local Government Records Act a government
record is defined as “any
document, paper, letter, book, map, photograph, sound or video recording,
microfilm, magnetic tape, electronic medium, or other information recording
medium, regardless of physical form or characteristic and regardless
of whether public access to it is open or restricted under the laws of
the state, created or received by a local government or any of its officers
or employees pursuant to law, including an ordinance, or in the transaction
of public business.” [Local Government Code §201.003(8)].
Specifically excluded from the definition are “extra identical
copies of documents created onlyfor convenience or reference or research
by officers or employees of the local government.” [Local Government
Code §201.003(8)(A)]. These are convenience copies.
For example, the record copies of purchase orders (Local
Schedule GR 1025-26)are maintained by the purchasing
department and are listed under that department on
the control schedule. Other departments may retain
convenience copies but their purchase orders are not
listed on the control schedules of each individual
The final step in managing local records is their final disposition.
Upon completion of their retention periods,records are either destroyed
or, for records with historical value, transferred to an archival facility.
Destruction of obsolete records includes the destruction of both record
and convenience copies. Anotherbasic principle of records management
is that all convenience copies must be disposed of by the time
the record copy has met its retention period and has been destroyed.
If a convenience copy remains in the organization after the record copy
is destroyed, then the convenience copy becomes the record copy.
As a result, the records were not destroyed in a timely manner and the
documents still remain in the organization.
Many of the records occupying filing cabinets and hard
drives are obsolete convenience copies. By destroying
convenience copies in a timely manner, hard drives
and file cabinets are purged releasing file space in
existing cabinets and forestalling purchase of new
filing equipment. Filing cabinets full of obsolete
records occupy valuable floor space which could be
better utilized as productive work areas. Hard drive
space is available for current, active records, speeding
up access and reducing time needed to find and retrieve
Litigation Support: Effective management of records destruction ensures
that records that should exist, do exist, and records that should be
destroyed, actually have been destroyed.
This helps legal counsel locate records in defense of the organization’s
position without having to sift through volumes of obsolete records.
This also prevents extensive and costly searches for records which
may or may not even exist. If convenience copies are destroyed
appropriately, opposing counsel will not be able to surprise the local
government by presenting documents in court which were found in discovery.
Record copy or convenience copy? ... By identifying record and convenience
copies, local governments operate more efficiently, benefiting local
government staff and the citizens of Texas.