Photo: Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, New York CIO and director of the Office for Technology

The New York State Office for Technology and the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department, issued a report last week that examines how the state can provide choice, interoperability and vendor neutrality in electronic document creation while ensuring electronic records are preserved and remain accessible. "A Strategy for Openness: Enhancing E-Records Access in New York State" makes recommendations to promote openness and transparency aimed at ensuring public records remain free from being locked into proprietary systems and software applications.

"As the state continues to conduct more and more business electronically, the importance of preserving e-records for historical reference is paramount," said Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, New York CIO and director of the Office for Technology and co-sponsor of the study group, with Christine Ward, state archivist. "This report is the first step to improve openness in records retention for the state and we expect additional recommendations for technical standards to evolve as we continue on down the openness path," said Mayberry-Stewart.

"The report represents the best thinking of an outstanding team of individuals from several state agencies that focused its extensive experience and expertise to address a vital and complex issue facing state government operations," said Ward. "The recommendations in this report will help the state ensure that government electronic records are preserved and accessible to the public."

The report recommends establishing a statewide, cross-government Electronics Records Committee to address, in a formal, long-term and collaborative manner, all aspects of electronic record creation, management and preservation. The committee would facilitate state agency adoption, place the vendor community on notice of the state's strategic direction and long-term commitment for technology openness, and ensure this commitment is institutionalized throughout the state enterprise and survives government leadership transitions. Another recommendation suggests the committee develops and publishes a final open records policy, and begins issuing a series of standards and guidelines for implementing the policy.

A workgroup was formed to conduct the research and write the report. The workgroup examined policies from other states and nations, records management of the State Archives, the need for public access, the expected storage life of electronic documents, and the costs of implementation.

The full report is available on the New York State Office for Technology Web site.


Wayne Hanson  |  Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government