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RIM Basic Training

Who should view this tool?

State, local and tribal government employees who are responsible for creating and maintaining records of any kind and in any format, both paper and electronic.

Why should you view this tool?

According to Montana Code Annotated 2-6-1012, your agency must have an established RIM program that governs the classification, retention, maintenance and final disposition of its records in order to:

  • Meet legislative requirements, administrative rules, and other policies
  • Support accountability and efficiency
  • Inform and document your agency’s decisions
  • Support your program(s) and service deliverables
  • Preserve evidence of the agency’s activities in all formats (including preservation of records of permanent value)
  • Support both protection of privacy, and freedom of information services throughout your agency
What is RIM::

Records and Information Management (RIM) also known as Records Management (RM) is the professional practice or discipline of controlling and governing what are considered to be the most important records of an organization throughout the records life-cycle, which includes from the time such records are conceived through to their final disposition. This work includes identifying, classifying, prioritizing, storing, securing, archiving, preserving, retrieving, tracking and destroying of records.

What is a Record?:

MCA 2-6-1002. Public record.
(13) “Public record” means public information that is:
(a) fixed in any medium and is retrievable in usable form for future reference; and
(b) designated for retention by the state records committee, judicial branch, legislative branch, or local government records committee.


2-6-1002. Definitions. As used in this chapter, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Confidential information” means information that is accorded confidential status or is prohibited from disclosure as provided by applicable law. The term includes information that is:
(a) constitutionally protected from disclosure because an individual privacy interest clearly exceeds the merits of public disclosure;
(b) related to judicial deliberations in adversarial proceedings;
(c) necessary to maintain the security and integrity of secure facilities or information systems owned by or serving the state; and
(d) designated as confidential by statute or through judicial decisions, findings, or orders.
(2) “Constitutional officer” means the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, or auditor, who are the constitutionally designated and elected officials of the executive branch of government.
(3) “Constitutional officer record” means a public record prepared, owned, used, or retained by a constitutional officer.

(4) “Essential record” means a public record immediately necessary to:
(a) respond to an emergency or disaster;
(b) begin recovery or reestablishment of operations during and after an emergency or disaster;
(c) protect the health, safety, and property of Montana citizens; or
(d) protect the assets, obligations, rights, history, and resources of a public agency, its employees and customers, and Montana citizens.
(5) “Executive branch agency” means a department, board, commission, office, bureau, or other public authority of the executive branch of state government.
(6) “Historic record” means a public record found by the state archivist to have permanent administrative or historic value to the state.
(7) “Local government” means a city, town, county, consolidated city-county, special district, or school district or a subdivision of one of these entities.
(8) “Local government records committee” means the committee provided for in 2-6-1201.
(9) “Permanent record” means a public record designated for long-term or permanent retention.

(10) “Public agency” means the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of Montana state government, a political subdivision of the state, a local government, and any agency, department, board, commission, office, bureau, division, or other public authority of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the state of Montana.
(11) “Public information” means information prepared, owned, used, or retained by any public agency relating to the transaction of official business, regardless of form, except for confidential information that must be protected against public disclosure under applicable law.
(12) “Public officer” means any person who has been elected or appointed as an officer of state or local government.
(13) “Public record” means public information that is:
(a) fixed in any medium and is retrievable in usable form for future reference; and
(b) designated for retention by the state records committee, judicial branch, legislative branch, or local government records committee.
(14) “Records manager” means an individual designated by a public agency to be responsible for coordinating the efficient and effective management of the agency’s public records and information.
(15) “State records committee” means the state records committee provided for in 2-6-1107.

Agency RIM Responsibilities:

2-6-1103. Agency records management duties. Each department head shall administer the executive branch agency’s records management function and shall:
(1) coordinate all aspects of the agency records management function in accordance with procedures prescribed by the secretary of state and the state records committee;
(2) analyze records inventory data and examine and compare all inventories within the agency to minimize duplication of records;
(3) review and approve records disposal requests for submission to the retention and disposition subcommittee;
(4) review established records retention schedules to ensure they are complete and current and make recommendations to the secretary of state and the state records committee regarding minimal retentions for all copies of public records within the agency;
(5) incorporate records management requirements into the agency information technology plan provided for in 2-17-523;
(6) ensure that all agency employees receive appropriate and ongoing records management training; and
(7) after considering guidance from the state records committee regarding records manager qualifications, officially designate a qualified agency records manager to manage the functions provided for in this section.

Essential Records:

2-6-1014. Protection and storage of essential records.

(1) To provide for the continuity and preservation of civil government, each public officer shall designate certain public records as essential records. The list must be continually maintained by the public officers to ensure its accuracy. Each public officer shall collaborate with the appropriate continuity of government programs to ensure essential records are identified and maintained.
(2) Each public officer shall ensure essential records are efficiently and effectively secured. Each public officer shall look to the guidance provided by the state records committee or the local government records committee in choosing appropriate methods to protect, store, back up, and recover essential records.

State Records Committee Approval to Dispose:

2-6-1109. Retention and disposition subcommittee — approval required for record disposal.
(1) There is a subcommittee of the state records committee to be known as the retention and disposition subcommittee. The subcommittee is composed of the members of the state records committee who represent the following offices:
(a) the department of administration;
(b) the legislative auditor;
(c) the attorney general;
(d) the secretary of state; and
(e) the Montana historical society.
(2) The subcommittee shall approve, modify, or disapprove the recommendations on retention schedules of all public records.
(3) Except as provided in subsection (4), no public record may be disposed of or destroyed without the unanimous approval of the subcommittee. When approval is required, a request for the disposal or destruction must be submitted to the subcommittee by the agency concerned.
(4) The subcommittee may by unanimous approval establish categories of records for which no disposal request is required if those records are retained for the designated retention period.

Does your state agency have what it takes to dispose of your own records without having to get approval from the State Records Committee?

If you answered “yes” to this question, then you will need to read the Agreement Guidelines and use forms A1-A8 as templates for what you need to obtain Delegated Authority. Email these to [email protected]. The State Records Committee will review the documents and get back to you within 10 business days.

Be sure you read the guidelines carefully, and do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or 406.444.9000 if you have any questions regarding Delegated Authority.

Records Retained on Digital Media:

Administrative Rules 44.14.101. Records Retained on Digital Media.
(1) Originals of government records reproduced on optical disk or any other digital medium or government records for which optical disk or digital medium is the original medium may be authorized for destruction or other disposition. Government agencies must use the record disposal request form RM5 for authority to dispose.

(2) Records may be kept on a digital medium if a records retention schedule and a digital migration plan has been completed and approved for the agency’s records. The digital migration plan must include at a minimum the process of:

(a) migrating records when any upgrade is made to the operating system, hardware, software, storage device(s) , server(s) , or other component(s) of the digital system; and
(b) migrating records which have not met their retention period, but are currently considered inactive must also be migrated to the current prevailing digital format ensuring their accessibility; and
(c) refreshing all digital media and corresponding refreshment schedule.

(3) Both the records retention schedule and the migration plan must be approved by the state records committee. Any modifications to the retention schedule or migration plan must be approved by the state records committee.

(4) The state records committee has the discretion to periodically review retention schedules and migrations plans and request modifications if the state records committee deems it necessary as a result of technological advances.

Creation of Effective RIM Policy:

According to Montana Code Annotated 2-6-1103 your agency has many responsibilities in regards to creating an effective and comprehensive RIM program that fits your needs.

The first place to start is getting your Management team to support these endeavors, which includes:

  • A successful records management program that has a senior level sponsor who delegates responsibility to an accountable individual to ensure that the program has the necessary structure to be effective.
  • Pieces of the above stated structure include policies and procedures, initiatives to promote program awareness, and records retention standards that cross the organization.
  • An Executive Memorandum
  • Administrative Policy Statement
  • Management should establish the legitimacy of the program and your role and authority in the agency
Stakeholders Involved in RIM:

There are several typical key stakeholders involved your agency’s record keeping, though each specific agency certainly has their own needs and requirements. Listed below are some general records that can provide a good starting point for scheduling meetings with your identified stakeholders. Some good key places to get started are:

  • Human Resources
    • Employee Info
    • Job Descriptions
    • Job Performances
  • Legal Department
    • Sales Contracts
    • Purchasing Agreements
    • Partner Agreements
    • Land Use Cantract
  • General
    • Service/Product Applications
    • Correspondence

Once you have set up these meetings and mapped out various records within your agency, you should be able to better understand who else would need to be involved in records management.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Effective Records Management requires an agency-wide commitment to planning, implementing, overseeing, and participating in the Records Management program. To achieve this, members of your agency with a range of records management–related roles and skills must support the effort. As you start planning your records management solution, identify who in your agency will fill the following roles:

Agency Heads/Directors/Deputies – Support from your Management staff is critical. You must have senior level leaders who delegate the responsibilities to ensure the Records Management program has the necessary structure to administer the policies that are outlined in Montana Code Annotated 2-6-1001 thru 2-6-1503

Records Managers/Records Custodians – They are skilled in the process of categorizing electronic and physical documents and in deciding which documents should become records. Records managers help determine agency records management policies and participate in designing the Records management program. They are responsible for researching and writing the file plan and retention schedule. The participation of records managers is essential to the success of your records management system.

Legal Department – In many agencies, this role is filled by records managers. Legal should monitor every aspect of records management to ensure that the organization is closely following relevant regulations and guidelines. They are primarily responsible for writing the requirements document, guidelines, and training plans.

IT Professionals – Responsible for deploying, operating, and maintaining the computers and application. They ensure that the records management solution is secure, that it is of the proper scale, that it is reliable, and that it communicates with the document management servers and e-mail servers that supply it with records.

Website Designers/Developers – In a records management solution, they are the experts in creating and configuring Web sites implementing a Records Center site.

Your RM Benefits:

The purpose of Records Management is to promote efficient administration and management of all public records. The overall program will benefit your agency in the following ways:

  • Improving access to information
  • Control the growth of materials taking up valuable office space
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Minimizing litigation risks
  • Safeguard vital and essential information
  • Support better management decision
  • Preserve history

You can obtain success with your Records Management by following these steps:

  • Determine who will be responsible and what resources will be needed.
  • Identify records needed to document the activities and functions of your agency.
  • Establish your procedures.
  • Match your records to the retention schedules.
  • Prepare a file plan.
  • Document your recordkeeping requirements and procedures.
  • Give details on how your records are organized and maintained (who is responsible for doing what, and when).
  • Organize your records.
  • Maintain your records on an ongoing basis.
  • Dispose of records.
  • Dispose on time.
  • Protect records containing confidential information, clean out inactive records, transfer inactive records.
  • Train all staff.

Every government agency should have a written procedure to provide Records Custodians with the proper managing tools for their records. This written procedure should also include responsibilities which were covered earlier.

Security and Protection Measures:

If an agency mishandles the personal information of its customers, it can cause a loss of trust and considerable harm to the agency’s reputation. (MCA 2-6-1501 thru 2-6-1503) Additionally, if personal information that is essential to the agency’s activities is lost or altered, it can have a serious impact on its capacity to perform its functions or activities. It is important for agencies to integrate privacy into their risk management strategies. A robust information-handling policy, including a privacy policy and data breach response plan, can assist an entity to embed good information handling practices and to respond effectively in the event that information is misused, lost or accessed, used modified or disclosed without authorization. Agencies should design their information security measures with the aim to:

  • Prevent the misuse, loss or inappropriate accessing, modification or disclosure of personal information
  • Detect privacy breaches promptly
  • Be ready to respond to potential breaches in a timely and appropriate manner.

Remember, good privacy practice is important for more than just ensuring compliance with the requirement of the privacy act.

Records Assessments Determine Lifecycle:

Records and information management (RIM) is based on standardized controls over the lifecycle of records.

When implemented and practiced, agencies experience improved production, business efficiency and cost savings.

Official records: Legal, essential, administrative, historic, or financial record value
Transitory records: Short term, operational value than official records. These records normally can be disposed without loss to official records
Non-records: Are those that have no operational value and need no disposal approval, examples include courtesy copies, other entity’s publications, spam email, blank forms, etc.

Lifecycle Creation, Use, Storage, and Final Disposition:

Active – used daily, weekly, monthly.

  • Kept in or near office.
  • Kept in user and/or network drives.

Active/Inactive – useful to the year(s) created in.

  • Kept near office or near storage.
  • Kept on network or near off-line.

Inactive – accessed minimally.

  • Store cost effectively for its retention period, whether hardcopy or electronic.

Final disposition is a critical element of Records Management. Here are the ways for your records to be given final disposition:

Toss or delete – no restrictions on content being disposed.

Shred or Expunge– restricted disposal due to confidential or sensitive content.

Archive-Hardcopy or IT Archive – transferred to a long-term or permanent repository with migration or backup plan (RM75).

Microfilm Currently the Secretary of State’s office uses Agco Metalex to dispose of microfilm. Please contact Agco Metalex if you have microfilm to be destroyed, as there are some types of film they are unable to dispose of.

Additional Copies of Records:

Duplicate Records
A true duplicate, provided for reference purposes only, not required for official or transitory business; whereas disposal has no affect on official business.

Secondary Records
A copy of the official record, necessary to conduct official business of another business unit, required to be kept for the retention period supporting official business.

Office of Record
An agency can often designate an office of record for particular records. This office has the official responsibility to maintain a record until its final disposition in accordance with the retention schedule. Copies kept in other offices can be destroyed when no longer needed. However, these copies should not be retained longer than the official record. Staff do not need to submit disposal requests to destroy copies of documents if their business unit is not the “office of record” designated by the agency to keep the official record. An example may be copies of documents submitted to accounts payable for payment processing. If accounts payable is designated by the agency as the office of record, any copies of those documents maintained by other staff in the agency for reference purposes can dispose of their copies when no longer required.

Standardize Controls:

All records require some sort of RIM application:

  • toss immediately
  • retain for “x” years
  • keep permanently/preserve

Managing by Records Series (groups of related records) enhances filing, retrieval, disposing and archiving.

Lifecycle Controls:

  • Proactive filing considerations, on the front-end, provide the framework and efficiency for the remainder of the lifecycle.
  • Naming standards provide at-a-glance expertise.
  • Separating records into classes, series or units associates to retention schedules.
  • Disposal is good business. Preservation is required business.
A Records Series:

A single record-type or group type of related records that as a stand-alone or combined collection represents a business function or process that documents official business and transactions.

Examples: Grants, Budgets, Personnel Files, Program Files, Case Files, Project Files, Contracts, Applications, Board Minutes, Correspondence, Agenda Packets, etc.

Records Assessments & Values:

To assess how long a record should be retained, a Records Manager/Custodian considers the business needs and requirements of the agency in terms of the following four retention values. Retention is determined by the longest period of these values. Records do not necessarily have all of these retention values:

  • Legal/Regulatory/Audit — Determine if the record is subject to legal, regulatory and audit compliance and the time period they need to be retained to meet these requirements.
  • Administrative/Operational — Determine how long the record is needed to conduct the daily business of the organization.
  • Historic/Enduring—Determine if the record has enduring value because of reference, historical, or administrative significance to the agency. If you have questions regarding your agency’s historic records, please contact the Montana Historical Society.
  • Fiscal — Determine how long the record must be retained to support financial transactions, especially those required for audit, tax or grant compliance purposes.

The good news is, most of the records your agency produces can usually fit into one of our current retention schedules and have already been appraised for you. If you have records that are not listed on your retention schedule, you can request through the State or Local Government Records Committee to add a retention schedule to the record series.

Essential Records:

Essential records are categorized into two, specific areas:

The first, are those records that are needed during an emergency or disaster recovery event.  They are needed at time of or shortly after an incident.  Emergency response records examples include emergency action plans (EAP), human resource call lists, delegated authority provisions, essential records inventories, emergency management personnel and contact numbers, etc.

The second type are those that are needed to bring an agency “up and running”. In other words, records that support business continuity.  Continuity response records include those that are necessary to support the agency’s legal, financial and public responsibilities. Examples include, health and human services assistance, payroll, facility plans, accounts receivables, contracts and other legally binding documents, software source codes, access and permissions lists, etc.

The State of Montana is participating in a national program that offers interagency preparedness for essential records (IPER) The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) is leading this project to develop and deliver web and CD-based training to and for state and local governments. Montana has formed a team who will lead other agencies through a three-part curriculum, that fundamentally educates and prepares agencies.  More information and curriculum course descriptions can be found on the IPER website

Official Records: Essential Records:

When there is some sort of incident, essential records are necessary to support an agency’s essential functions (critical services or processes). By law, 2-6-1014, MCA requires elected and appointed officers to ensure the security of essential records, needed for an emergency or for the reestablishment of normal operations after the emergency.

Essential records are categorized into two, specific areas.  The first, are those records that are needed during an emergency or disaster recovery event.  They are needed at time of or shortly after an incident.  Emergency response records examples include emergency action plans (EAP), human resource call lists, delegated authority provisions, essential records inventories, emergency management personnel and contact numbers, etc.
The second type are those that are needed to bring an agency “up and running”.  In other words, records that support business continuity.

Continuity response records include those that are necessary to support the agency’s legal, financial and public responsibilities.  Examples include: health and human services assistance, payroll, facility plans, accounts receivables, contracts and other legally binding documents, software source codes, access and permissions lists, etc.

Get Organized – Setting Up Your Electronic Files:

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration has some great information regarding Records Management. The following video offers tips on getting your electronic files organized. Included are some common sense methods that are simple to follow and create in your agency. This session also covers filing and naming conventions that will help you manage electronic records in your agency’s directory structure.

Email Management:

Like all other electronic records, e-mail is subject to the same retention requirements as any other public record governed under MCA Title 2, Chapter 6. These guidelines along with approved retention schedules provide assistance in determining whether e-mail should be retained, for how long, and how employees can manage e-mail filing and retention.

Remember to manage email by its content (subject matter). Follow the naming convention and formatting as listed in the guidelines above. A systematic approach to e-mail management is the best business practice to follow and protects all your staff and your agency.

Records Inventory:
  • Interview fellow employees in the work unit.
  • Identify the Records Series related to that position’s duties.
  • Visit hardcopy and electronic filing cabinets along with inputs and outputs associated with applications and systems.
  • Have an employee recommend the retention period(s) and disposal methods. Ask about governing requirements.
  • Inventory office records first, easing identification of records in storage or on the network.
  • Compare records series’ to the state’s General Schedules (GS).
  • Records that don’t associate to the GSs need to be described on a Records Series Profile (RM1) form (agency-specific) and then recapped on an agency-specific Records Retention Schedule (RM3).
  • You may also wish to add or change your retention schedule (Slide 3).
Records Document Instructions:

Records Series Profile (RM1)

A Records Series is defined as a group of related records, such as:

  • All record types within payables/receivables
  • Personnel files
  • Litigation case files
  • Inspections
  • Payroll
  • Tax filings

If your agency does not have a record series written for retention scheduling, please use the form below and follow the instructions. The RM1 form must also be accompanied by the RM3 form (please see next slide for instructions and form).

RM 1 Instructions

RM 1 Form

Records Retention Schedule (RM3)

Aligned with the profile (RM1), the State Records Committee authorizes retention periods (based on record values). The agency now has the state-required form declaring RIM intentions.

RM 3 Instructions

RM 3 Form

Records Transmittal Request (RM2)

The RM2 form is used to transfer your records to the State Records Warehouse. It must include the records details, along with the associated retention schedule. Please read the instructions carefully.

RM 2 Instructions

RM 2 Form

Records Disposal Request (RM5)

In order to dispose of your records per statutory authority, please use the RM5 form (for state agencies only):

RM 5 Instructions

RM 5 Form

If you are a local government agency, please use the following forms:


Fillable Word Form

Printable PDF

Do you want to apply for Delegated Authority to dispose of your records without the permission of the State Records Committee?

Records Management Objectives:

Every government agency must address well-defined objectives which will add value, either directly to the bottom line, or toward the achievement of the agency’s goals and objectives. Records Management programs must manage agency information so that it is timely, accurate, complete, cost-effective, accessible and useable. Better information, at the right time, makes better business for your agency.

The following are the most important reasons to set up a good records management program in your office:

  • Ensure compliance with MCA 2-6
  • Control the creation and growth of records
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Improve efficiency and productivity
  • Minimize litigation risks
  • Preserve and protect long term, permanent, and essential records
Return on Investment for Successful RIM Practices:

A proper Records Management initiative can deliver a measurable and rapid ROI (Return on Investment) with your agency. These factors include:

  • Cost reduction
  • Risk mitigation
  • Data quality
  • Increased efficiencies
  • Structured content
  • Stakeholder collaboration
  • Administrative, fiscal, legal, preservation and continuity accountability

The higher the quality of Records Management your agency has, the lower the costs to create, collect, store, protect, and produce the information.

RIM Requirements:

Records Information Management requirements are governed by:

MCA Title 2, Part 6 – Public Records Management

ARM 44.14.101 – Official Records Retained Digitally

State of MT – State Records Committee

State of MT – General Retention Schedules

Agency – Agency-specific Retention Schedules