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A. Policy Statement and Purpose of Manual.
1. General Policy.
a. McHenry County’s Records Management policy requires that its public records be created, maintained, and disposed in full accordance with federal, state, and county laws, regulations, and administrative rules. It is also the County’s policy to facilitate, to the extent allowable by law, the public’s access to information in public records. In the interest of efficiently using public resources, County records shall be retained only as long as is required to meet legal, financial, administrative, or historical needs.
b. County employees are responsible for ensuring that records are as complete and accurate as is necessary for a third party to reconstruct from those records the official functions and activities of County government.
c. The purpose of this Manual is to provide consistent policies, procedures, and standards for the effective management of the County’s records. A detailed program for the management of all County records, including electronic records, is necessary to ensure compliance with state and federal laws, and to ensure that County records meet judicial admissibility standards when required in litigation. Effective records management includes all stages in the “life” of a record: creation, use, maintenance, and disposition by destruction or transfer to an appropriate storage location.
2. Records Management Program Objectives. McHenry County records management objectives include:
a. The improved accessibility of information regardless of the media containing that information.
b. The protection of vital public records.
c. The formalized identification and tracking of county records.
d. The establishment of consistent records retention practices.
B. Definitions. When used in this document, the terms listed below have the meanings indicated.
ARCHIVAL RECORDS - Permanent records that have been or are eligible to be transferred to the County Archives.
APPLICATION FOR AUTHORITY TO DISPOSE OF LOCAL RECORDS - The form created by the State Local Record Commission to establish the records retention periods for each County department (see also: Records Disposal Certificate).
BACKUP - The act of creating an extra copy of vital data stored on a computer and placing the copied data in a secure location for vital records protection and disaster recovery.
DATABASE - A collection of digitally stored data records, or a collection of data elements within records within files that have relationships with other records within other files.
DATA FILE - Related numeric, textual, sound, or graphic information that is organized in a strictly prescribed form and format.
ELECTRONIC DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (EDMS) - An automated system that controls the capture and indexing of electronic documents and images. The system relies on a central electronic records repository and manages check in/out of documents, version control, and audit trails.
ELECTRONIC MEDIA - All storage media capable of being read by a computer including magnetic disks, magnetic tapes, optical disks, and similar machine-readable media.
ELECTRONIC RECORD - Any information that is recorded in a form for computer processing and that satisfies the definition of “Records,” below.
ELECTRONIC RECORD SYSTEM - Any information system that produces, manipulates, and stores records by using a computer.
ELECTRONIC STORAGE - The maintenance of County Government Record Data in the form of digital electronic signals on a computer hard disk, magnetic tape, optical disk, or similar machine-readable medium.
INACTIVE RECORDS - Records that are not regularly accessed by the County Agency that created them, but whose Retention Period has not yet expired.
LONG-TERM RECORD - A record for which the Retention Period on a Records Retention Schedule is 10 years or longer, but less than permanent.
MAGNETIC MEDIA - A storage medium on which digital or analog information is recorded as magnetic signals, including computer magnetic tape, magnetic disk, magneto-optical disk, audio tape, and video tape.
MIGRATION - The process of transferring or converting data from an outdated technology to a current and supportable technology.
OFF-LINE STORAGE MEDIA - Electronic record storage media that require physical loading by a person into an appropriate device before data stored on the media can be accessed; for example, manual loading of a tape or disk into the appropriate drive. Off-line storage media can be stored off-site for security reasons and be retrieved and loaded when needed.
ON-LINE STORAGE MEDIA - Electronic record storage media that are immediately accessible to a user without any physical loading of the media, by either a person or a machine, into a drive or other reading device. On-line storage media (for example, hard disks) typically are not removable from the system hardware. An optical jukebox is not an online storage device because the optical platters must be mechanically loaded into a drive before they can be accessed.
OPTICAL DISK - A high capacity electronic storage medium that uses a laser to “write” and “read” digitally encoded information to or from a hard platter.
PERMANENT RECORD - A record for which the Retention Period on a Records Retention Schedule is permanent.
PUBLIC RECORD - Any book, paper, map, photograph, digitized electronic material, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made, produced, executed or received by any agency or officer pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by such agency or officer, or any successor thereof, as evidence of the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, or other activities thereof, or because of the informational data contained therein. (Illinois Local Records Act, 50 ILCS 205/3)
RECORD SERIES - A group of records filed or maintained together because they have a common format, relate to a similar subject, result from a particular activity of the office, or have some other relationship arising from their creation, receipt, or use.
RECORD SYSTEM - A combination of related record series in manual, micrographic, and/or electronic media designed to collect, process, maintain, transmit, or disseminate information concerning functions or activities of County Departments.
RECORDS - All books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, digitally stored data, electronic mail messages, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by a McHenry County Agency for use in the exercise of functions required or authorized by law or administrative rule or involving the receipt or expenditure of public funds.
RECORDS DISPOSAL CERTIFICATE - The form that must be submitted to the Local Records Commission and approved before any County public records are destroyed.
RECORDS CONTACT - The person designated by the director of each County Agency to act as the agency’s representative in all issues of records management policy, responsibility, and policy compliance.
RECORDS RETENTION SCHEDULE - A document listing and describing record series in a County Agency and indicating the length of time each series must be retained (the “Retention Period”). Records retention schedules are approved by the Local Record Commission via the Application for Authority to Dispose of Local Records.
RETENTION PERIOD - The minimum length of time that a record series must be retained to meet legal, fiscal, administrative, and historical requirements. Retention Periods are stated on approved Records Retention Schedules.
SEMI-ACTIVE RECORDS - Records that are accessed infrequently (less than once per month per file drawer, microfilm reel, magnetic tape reel, or comparable storage unit) by the County Agency that created them, and whose Retention Period has not yet expired.
SHORT-TERM RECORD - A record for which the retention period is less than 10 years.
TEXT DOCUMENTS - Narrative or tabular documents, such as letters, memoranda, and reports, having loosely prescribed form and format.
VITAL RECORDS - Records that are essential to continue or reestablish County operations during and after an emergency or disaster, and records needed to protect the legal and financial rights of McHenry County government and persons affected by government activities.
WORKFLOW - Program that controls a multi-step process or transaction, where a form or document flows in a designated pattern from workstation to workstation.
C. Organization and Administration. This section outlines the responsibilities of County departments regarding the Records Management Program.
1. Records Management Responsibilities. The Records Manager is part of the Building Operations Department and is responsible for;
a. Working with the County Administrator, Department heads, Elected Officials, and their designees to identify and categorize county records, regardless of their format.
b. Developing and implementing a plan and program for effective management of the County’s records.
c. Developing and implementing a plan and program for the permanent preservation of the County’s archival records.
d. Coordinating between all County management staff, including elected and appointed officials and the State Local Record Commission, to facilitate compliance with records retention policies.
2. Information Technology Department Responsibilities. The I.T. department is responsible for:
a. Developing and implementing a technology and software plan for records and workflow management.
b. Developing and administering technical procedures for the storage of electronic records.
c. Ensuring that electronic records are usable until their retention and preservation requirements are met, throughout software and hardware changes.
d. Assisting the Records Manager and County departments with the maintenance and authorized destruction of electronic records.
3. County Departmental Responsibilities. Government employees are responsible for:
a. Understanding and following information and records management policies that apply to their job
b. Managing the public records they produce according to County and departmental procedures
c. Directing any questions regarding records policy to their departmental Records Contact, their Department Head, or the Records Manager.
D. Scope of Manual. The policies and procedures outlined in this manual are intended to cover the creation, use, maintenance and disposition of public records as defined in the Illinois Local Records Act, 50 ILCS 205/3. (see online at http://www.legis.state.il.us/legislation/ilcs/ch50/ch5 0act205.htm.) Some provisions of this manual regarding management of electronic documents are contingent upon establishment of an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS).
E. Designation of Records Representatives by County Departments.
1. It is important for County Departments to actively manage their records and coordinate that activity with the Records Manager and the Information Technology Department. Therefore, each County Department should designate at least one individual as Records Contact for the Department. The Records Contact will act as the department’s primary representative regarding records management policy and issues.
2. Each County Agency may also designate additional individuals to serve as backup or secondary Records Management contacts where separate administrative units exist within a department.
F. Records Inventory and Retention Schedules.
1. Schedule Development and Revision.
a. Retention Schedules for each County department are established as follows:
(1) With the help of the Records Contact(s), the Records Manager reviews the record types produced.
(2) These records are categorized into specific record series designations including a series name and unique identifying number. Other record series characteristics such as storage medium (paper, digital, microfilm etc.), active record period, special security requirements, and vital record designations are also established at this time.
(3) The total retention period for each record series is set by recommendations from a field representative from the Illinois State Archives, Records Management Section. The field representative documents the department’s record series and retention recommendations on the form, Application for Authority to Dispose of Local Records.
(4) The Department Head signs/approves the application form.
b. The Records Manager will help coordinate the Archives Field Representative’s review of departmental records and will assist in submitting the application for Local Record Commission approval.
c. Note: The retention periods for records produced in the Circuit Clerk’s office are set by guidelines published by the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts’ Manual on Recordkeeping.
d. The Records Manager summarizes the information gathered above in a Master Retention Schedule which will serve as a general reference for retention information. A County department creating a new record series or wishing to modify the retention period of an existing record series should contact the Records Manager for advice and assistance in revising its schedule.
2. Retention of Electronic Records. Electronic records must be inventoried and scheduled like any other form of public record; however, retention policies can only be enforced when those records that have been properly saved and indexed in an Electronic Document Management System (database). A key portion of the statutory definition of a “public record” is that it is “preserved.....as evidence of the organization, function, polices, decisions, procedures [of the agency] (50 ILCS 205/3).” When electronic document management software is implemented, the proper method of “preserving as evidence” will be through an EDMS database. The “official copy” or “record copy” of a scheduled electronic record will be indexed and saved in an EDMS database.
3. Schedule Implementation. The Records Manager will assist departments in retention schedule implementation, and will coordinate requests to dispose of records in a timely manner as outlined in Section H. Any questions about the applicability of schedules should be referred to the Records Manager.
G. Records Disposition - Procedures for Authorizing Records Destruction.
1. Note: The Local Records Act states that, “All public records made or received by, or under the authority of, or coming into the custody, control, or possession of any officer or agency shall not be mutilated, destroyed, transferred, removed or otherwise damaged or disposed of, in whole or in part except as provided by law.” (50 ILCS 205/4)
2. Also, the unauthorized destruction of any public record is considered tampering under the Illinois Criminal Code: “Tampering with public records. A person who knowingly and without lawful authority alters, destroys, defaces, removes or conceals any public record commits a Class 4 felony.” (720 ILCS 5/32-8)
3. The legal disposition of public records requires approval and authorization by State agencies. The procedure for the Clerk of the Circuit Court varies slightly from other departments and is outlined in the chart below. The general requirements are:
a. Application for Authority to Dispose - As noted in Section F., the Application for Authority to Dispose is the controlling document for establishing retention schedules for departmental records. For the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Manual on Recordkeeping, published by the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, sets the applicable retention periods.
b. Specific Authorization - Once a given records series reaches its retention period, the Department Head obtains final authorization for destruction from the Local Records Commission by filling out a Records Disposal Certificate (see Appendix D). This form designates the specific records to be destroyed and cites the record series and Application Number from the Application for Authority to Dispose (above).
4. Note: Department Directors shall not request authorization to destroy records pertaining to any pending or threatened legal case, claim, action, or audit.
5. Table 1 below summarizes the disposition process for all County departments:
Table 1 - Records Destruction Overview
All Other Departments
Retention Schedule Document
Manual on Recordkeeping
Application for Authority to Dispose of Local Records
Initiate Destruction Process
Sends Notice of Intent to Destroy Records to Administrative Office of Illinois Courts
Sends Records Disposal Certificate to Local Records Commission
Notice reviewed by AOIC and Local Records Commission
Certificate reviewed directly by LRC
AOIC returns authorization with any exceptions noted
LRC returns authorization with any exceptions noted
Coordinated through Records Manager per Instructions of Dept. Head
Coordinated through Records Manager per Instructions of Dept. Head
Clerk’s Record Disposal Certificate filed with AOIC; Records Manager obtains signed documentation or certification of destruction (e.g. from shredding company)
Records Manager obtains signed documentation or certification of destruction (e.g. from shredding company)
6. Destruction of Electronic Records.
a. Electronic records that meet the criteria of public records may be destroyed only after obtaining an approved Records Disposal Certificate as described above.
b. Deletion of index pointers to the location of electronic records on storage media, without erasure of the media sectors containing the record, is sufficient to constitute destruction of electronic records, especially on non-erasable media (e.g. CDs and DVDs). Note: this type of deletion renders the record inaccessible, but not impossible to reconstruct. For records designated as confidential, physical destruction of the medium or total erasure/rewriting may be considered. Physical destruction of electronic records must be scheduled through the IT Department.
7. Destruction of Paper Records- Shredding. Public records authorized for destruction should be disposed of in a timely fashion. To facilitate this process, and to enable the secure destruction of confidential information, the preferred destruction method for these public records is offsite shredding by a licensed, bonded shredding company. The Records Manager will coordinate the destruction pickup and will maintain the certificate of destruction provided by the shredding company upon completion of the destruction request. Departments requiring witnessed destruction of records will be responsible for providing the personnel to witness the shredding. If a department requires onsite shredding by a vendor, the department will be responsible for the higher fees associated with onsite shredding.
H. Record System Maintenance/Development.
1. Coordination of Departmental Record Systems. The majority of County departments have developed systems for tracking records they produce. They range from simple charts and spreadsheets listing file/box
contents, dates, case numbers, etc. to fully developed databases and imaging systems. These systems will be reviewed as part of the records inventory and retention policy process outlined above, to ensure that they can meet all retention and disposition requirements. Also, the Records Manager and the IT Department are available to advise departments regarding best use of available records management, document management, and imaging software.
2. Manual (Paper) Filing Systems. Recommended practices for maintaining manual (paper) filing systems include:
a. File Labeling - All file folders should have printed labels that include the file heading and a date reference (usually a year or date range). This helps identify folders for transfer to storage or for destruction.
b. File Headings - Departments should create a reference list of file headings for any records series that contains alphabetically arranged subject folders. Use of standard headings simplifies filing and retrieval by preventing multiple headings for the same subject.
c. Annual File Breaks - For subject-filed records series, departments should start new folders for all headings every one or two years. This facilitates annual removal of older folders to storage and simplifies destruction of records whose retention period has expired.
d. Permanent Records - Special care should be taken to properly maintain records with a “permanent” retention period. Departments should avoid using rubber bands, self-sticking notes, tape, and newsprint in permanent files. Rubber bands become stiff and stick to paper within a few years. The adhesive on self-sticking notes dries out and the notes fall off. Adhesive or pressure-sensitive tapes eventually yellow, and the adhesive becomes gummy with age causing pages to stick together. Newsprint, because of its acidity, should be copied on to bond paper for filing.
I. Electronic Record Systems. The following guidelines set basic requirements for the maintenance, use, retention and storage of electronic records by county agencies. Each department may also consider documenting standard operating procedures for records creation, indexing, preservation, etc. in order to control business processes and help maintain accurate, accessible, and reliable records.
1. Creation and Use of Data Files. The maintenance of systems that produce and store data files for County departments requires the preservation of as much technical documentation for these systems as possible. Such documentation may include:
a. Hardware and software manuals
b. Listings of software names, versions, dates of installation, upgrades etc.
c. Narrative description of systems and their purpose
d. Any other technical information provided to read, maintain, or process the records, including file layouts or data dictionaries.
2. Creation and Use of Text Documents. The creation and use of text documents can be better managed via an Electronic Document Management System. As noted in Section F. (Retention Schedules), a Records Management goal is to establish an EDMS to index and track the official file copy of electronic documents. At a minimum, an EDMS:
a. Provides a method for all authorized users of the system to retrieve desired documents, such as an indexing or text search system.
b. Provides security to ensure integrity of the documents.
c. Provides a standard interchange format when determined to be necessary by the user department to permit the exchange of documents on electronic media among County Agencies using different software or operating systems.
d. Allows for the disposition of documents in accordance with approved Records Retention Schedules.
3. Creation and Use of Digital Images. The following standards must be met for electronic records stored as digital images on optical or magnetic media:
a. Images produced on any County imaging system must be readable by in-house users of the images.
b. Image files must be accessible for the full retention period regardless of software changes.
c. A visual quality control evaluation must be performed for each scanned image and related index data. If records are converted to digital images directly from microfilm, the visual quality control evaluation of images can be based on a sample of images. The sample size will be determined at the time of each conversion project.
d. As with data systems, technical documentation of imaging systems shall be maintained. Standard operating procedures for digital imaging, retrieval, and storage should be documented at the department level.
4. Creation and Storage of Backups. In order to ensure that electronic records are restorable after a disaster or accidental loss, all electronic records system data and software must be backed up to off-line storage media and stored securely. Backup procedures will be administered, documented and maintained by the IT Department.
5. Migration Strategy. The migration strategy for upgrading equipment and storage media as technology evolves shall be documented and include:
a. Transferring data from an obsolete technology to a supportable technology.
b. Providing background system compatibility to the data in the old system, and/or converting data to storage media that the system upgrade and/or replacement can support.
6. Labeling/Indexing Off-Line Media. Items from any record series that are stored exclusively on off-line storage media must be indexed in the Records Management database, especially media containing records with long-term or permanent retention. The media itself will be bar-coded for identification, with corresponding index information in the Records database as follows:
a. Name or other identifier of the County Agency or administrative unit responsible for the records.
b. Descriptive title of the contents.
c. Record Series ID.
d. Dates of creation.
e. Warning if records are confidential.
f. Identification of the software (to include specific application if appropriate) and hardware used.
7. Additionally, the following information (if relevant) should be included for off-line storage of permanent electronic records:
a. File title(s).
b. Dates of coverage.
c. The recording density.
d. Type of internal labels.
e. Volume serial number, if applicable.
f. The number of tracks.
g. Character code/software dependency.
h. Information about block size.
i. Sequence number, if the file is part of a multi-media set.
j. Relative starting position of data, if applicable.
8. Floppy Disk Storage. Floppy disks (3.5 inch diskettes) may not be used for the exclusive storage of long-term, permanent, or archival records.
J. Storage and Retrieval of Inactive Records.
1. Transferring inactive or Semi-Active Records to Storage. Inactive or semi-active records may be placed into offsite storage if they meet the following criteria:
a. They are public records as defined by the Illinois Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205/3 -see definitions, above).
b. They are prepared according the standards and procedures listed in Appendix A.
2. Note: The County Archives is designated for storage of public records listed on official retention schedules only. Non-records, including supplies, convenience copies, extra copies of printed material, pamphlets, etc. will not be accepted for storage.
3. Retrieval of Stored Records.
a. Requests for retrieval of records from storage must be made on a Records Retrieval Request Form (Appendix C). Requests for one or two files/boxes may also be made by calling the Records Technician. Deliveries will be made on the date needed (as indicated on the request form), according to the following general guidelines:
By 10:30 a.m.
11 am -12:00 pm
After 10:30 a.m.
3 pm - 4 pm (or next day a.m. as needed)
b. If records are to be reviewed at the County Archives, an appointment should be made in advance. No record may be removed from storage without proper documentation (Check-out) in the Records Management System.