Records of state offices and other public records. 16.61(1)(1)
Public records board.
The public records board shall preserve for permanent use important state records, prescribe policies and standards that provide an orderly method for the disposition of other state records and rationalize and make more cost-effective the management of records by state agencies.
As used in this section:
“Board" means the public records board.
“Microfilm reproduction" means any manner by which an image is reduced in size and reproduced on fine-grain, high resolution film.
“Public records" means all books, papers, maps, photographs, films, recordings, optical discs, electronically formatted documents, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by any state agency or its officers or employees in connection with the transaction of public business, and documents of any insurer that is liquidated or in the process of liquidation under ch. 645
. “Public records" does not include:
Records and correspondence of any member of the legislature.
Any state document received by a state document depository library.
Duplicate copies of materials the original copies of which are in the custody of the same state agency and which are maintained only for convenience or reference and for no other substantive purpose.
Materials in the possession of a library or museum made or acquired solely for reference or exhibition purposes.
Notices or invitations received by a state agency that were not solicited by the agency and that are not related to any official action taken, proposed or considered by the agency.
Drafts, notes, preliminary computations and like materials prepared for the originator's personal use or prepared by the originator in the name of a person for whom the originator is working.
“Records and forms officer" means a person designated by a state agency to comply with all records and forms management laws and rules under s. 15.04 (1) (j)
and to act as a liaison between that state agency and the board.
“Records series" means public records that are arranged under a manual or automated filing system, or are kept together as a unit, because they relate to a particular subject, result from the same activity, or have a particular form.
“Retention schedule" means instructions as to the length of time, the location and the form in which records series are to be kept and the method of filing records series.
“State agency" means any officer, commission, board, department or bureau of state government.
(3) Powers and duties of the board.
Shall safeguard the legal, financial and historical interests of the state in public records.
Upon the request of any state agency, county, town, city, village, or school district, may order upon such terms as the board finds necessary to safeguard the legal, financial, and historical interests of the state in public records, the destruction, reproduction by microfilm or other process, optical disc or electronic storage or the temporary or permanent retention or other disposition of public records.
May promulgate rules to carry out the purposes of this section.
Shall establish a system for the protection and preservation of essential public records that are necessary to the continuity of governmental functions in the event of a disaster, as defined in s. 323.02 (6)
, or the imminent threat of a disaster, and in establishing the system shall do all of the following:
Determine what records are essential for operation during a state of emergency and thereafter through consultation with all state departments and independent agencies and the administrator, establish the manner in which such records shall be preserved, and provide for their preservation.
Require every state department and independent agency to establish and maintain a preservation program for essential state public records.
Provide for security storage of essential state records.
Furnish state departments and independent agencies with copies of the final plan for preservation of essential public records.
Advise all political subdivisions of this state on preservation of essential public records.
May establish the minimum period of time for retention before destruction of any county, city, town, village, metropolitan sewerage district or school district record.
Shall cooperate with and advise records and forms officers.
Shall establish a records management program for this state.
Shall receive and investigate complaints about forms, except as provided in sub. (3n)
May delegate any of the duties under this subsection to other state agencies.
Shall consider recommendations and advice offered by records and forms officers.
Shall recommend to the department procedures for the transfer of public records and records of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority to optical disc format, including procedures to ensure the authenticity, accuracy, and reliability of any public records or records of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority so transferred and procedures to ensure that such records are protected from unauthorized destruction. The board shall also recommend to the department qualitative standards for optical discs and copies of documents generated from optical discs used to store public records and records of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority.
Shall recommend to the department qualitative standards for optical discs and for copies of documents generated from optical discs used to store materials filed with local governmental units.
Shall recommend to the department qualitative standards for storage of records in electronic format and for copies of documents generated from electronically stored records filed with local governmental units.
Shall create a registry, in a format that may be accessed by computer terminal, describing the records series maintained by state agencies that contain personally identifiable information by using, to the maximum extent feasible, information submitted to the board in retention schedules under sub. (4) (b)
. The board may require state agencies to provide additional information necessary to create the registry. The board may not require a state agency to modify any records series described in the registry.
The registry shall not include any of the following:
Any records series that contains the results of a matching program, as defined in s. 19.62 (3)
, if the state agency using the records series destroys the records series within one year after the records series was created.
Records series pertaining exclusively to employees of a state agency.
Records series specified by the board that contain personally identifiable information incidental to the primary purpose for which the records series was created, such as the name of a salesperson or a vendor in a records series of purchase orders.
Records series relating to procurement or budgeting by a state agency.
Ensure that state agencies are not maintaining any secret records series containing personally identifiable information.
Be comprehensible to an individual using the registry so that identification of records series maintained by state agencies that may contain personally identifiable information about the individual is facilitated.
Identify who may be contacted for further information on a records series.
(3L) Executive secretary.
The department shall, with the consent of the board and based on qualifications approved by the board, appoint an official in the classified service to oversee the day-to-day execution of the board's duties, to serve as the executive secretary of the board and to coordinate the statewide records management program.
(3n) Exempt forms.
The board may not receive or investigate complaints about the forms specified in s. 16.971 (2m)
(4) Approval for disposition of records. 16.61(4)(a)(a)
All public records made or received by or in the custody of a state agency shall be and remain the property of the state. Those public records may not be disposed of without the written approval of the board.
State agencies shall submit records retention schedules for all public records series in their custody to the board for its approval within one year after each record series has been received or created unless a shorter period of retention is authorized by law, in which case a retention schedule shall be submitted within that period. The board may alter retention periods for any records series; but if retention for a certain period is specifically required by law, the board may not decrease the length of that period. The board may not authorize the destruction of any public records during the period specified in s. 19.35 (5)
A records retention schedule approved by the board on or after March 17, 1988, is effective for 10 years, unless otherwise specified by the board. At the end of the effective period, an agency shall resubmit a retention schedule for approval by the board. During the effective period, if approved by the board and the board has assigned a disposal authorization number to the public record or record series, a state agency may dispose of a public record or record series according to the disposition requirements of the schedule without further approval by the board.
(5) Transfer of public records to optical disc or electronic format. 16.61(5)(a)(a)
Subject to rules promulgated by the department under s. 16.611
, any state agency may transfer to or maintain in optical disc or electronic format any public record in its custody and retain the public record in that format only.
Subject to rules promulgated by the department under s. 16.611
, state agencies shall maintain procedures to ensure the authenticity, accuracy, reliability, and accessibility of public records transferred to or maintained in optical disc or electronic format under par. (a)
Subject to rules promulgated by the department under s. 16.611
, state agencies that transfer to or maintain in optical disc or electronic format public records in their custody shall ensure that the public records stored in that format are protected from unauthorized destruction.
(6) Procedure for microfilm reproduction of public records.
Any state agency desiring to microfilm public records shall submit a request to the board for the microfilm reproduction of each records series to be reproduced together with any information the board requires. In granting or denying approval, the board shall consider factors such as the long-term value of the public records, the cost-effectiveness of microfilm reproduction compared with other records management techniques and the technology appropriate for the specific application. Upon receiving written approval from the board, any state agency may cause any public record to be microfilmed in compliance with this section and rules adopted pursuant thereto.
(7) When copy deemed original record; standards for reproduction of public records. 16.61(7)(a)(a)
Any microfilm reproduction of an original record, or a copy generated from an original record stored in optical disc or electronic format, is deemed an original public record if all of the following conditions are met:
Sub (7) (title) gives effect to 1991 Act 39
and 2015 Wis. Act 196
. Sub. (7) (title) was amended in 1991 Act 39
but that title was but inadvertently omitted from the 1993 to 2013 statutes. 2015 Wis. Act 196
created a new title for sub. (7) as all other subsections in s. 16.61 had titles.
Any device used to reproduce the record on film or to transfer the record to optical disc or electronic format and generate a copy of the record from optical disc or electronic format accurately reproduces the content of the original.
The reproduction is on film that complies with the minimum standards of quality for microfilm reproductions, as established by rule of the board, or the optical disc or electronic copy and the copy generated from optical disc or electronic format comply with the minimum standards of quality for such copies, as established by rule of the department under s. 16.611
The film is processed and developed in accordance with the minimum standards established by the board.
The record is arranged, identified, and indexed so that any individual document or component of the record can be located with the use of proper equipment.
The state agency records and forms officer or other person designated by the head of the state agency or the custodian of any other record executes a statement of intent and purpose describing the record to be reproduced or transferred to optical disc or electronic format, the disposition of the original record, the disposal authorization number assigned by the board for public records of state agencies, the enabling ordinance or resolution for cities, towns, villages, or school districts, or the resolution that authorizes the reproduction, optical imaging, or electronic formatting for counties when required, and executes a certificate verifying that the record was received or created and microfilmed or transferred to optical disc or electronic format in the normal course of business and that the statement of intent and purpose is properly recorded as directed by the board.
The statement of intent and purpose executed under par. (a) 5.
is presumptive evidence of compliance with all conditions and standards prescribed by this subsection.
Any microfilm reproduction of an original record which was made prior to April 18, 1986, in accordance with the standards in effect under the applicable laws and rules for authenticating the record at the time the reproduction was made is deemed an original record.
Any microfilm reproduction of a public record meeting the requirements of sub. (7)
or copy of a public record generated from an original record stored in optical disc or electronic format in compliance with this section shall be taken as, stand in lieu of, and have all the effect of the original document and shall be admissible in evidence in all courts and all other tribunals or agencies, administrative or otherwise, in all cases where the original document is admissible.
Any enlarged copy of a microfilm reproduction of a public record made as provided by this section or any enlarged copy of a public record generated from an original record stored in optical disc or electronic format in compliance with this section that is certified by the custodian as provided in s. 889.08
shall have the same force as an actual-size copy.
(9) Preservation of reproductions.
Provision shall be made for the preservation of any microfilm reproductions of public records and of any public records stored in optical disc or electronic format in conveniently accessible files in the agency of origin or its successor or in the state archives.
(10) Contracts for copying.
Contracts for microfilm reproduction, optical imaging or electronic storage of public records to be performed as provided in this section shall be made by the secretary as provided in ss. 16.70
and the cost of making such reproductions or optical discs or of electronic storage shall be paid out of the appropriation of the state agency having the reproduction made or the storage performed.
(11) Authority to reproduce records.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the responsible officer of any state agency from reproducing any document by any method when it is necessary to do so in the course of carrying out duties or functions in any case other than where the original document is to be destroyed; but no original public record may be destroyed after microfilming, optical imaging or electronic storage without the approval of the board unless authorized under sub. (4)
(12) Access to reproductions and copies.
All persons may examine and use the microfilm reproductions of public records and copies of public records generated from optical disc or electronic storage subject to such reasonable rules as may be made by the responsible officer of the state agency having custody of the same.
(13) Historical society and university archives as depositories. 16.61(13)(a)(a)
The historical society, as trustee for the state, shall be the ultimate depository of the archives of the state, and the board may transfer to the society such original records and reproductions as it deems proper and worthy of permanent preservation, including records and reproductions which the custodian thereof has been specifically directed by statute to preserve or keep in the custodian's office. The permanent preservation of records of the University of Wisconsin System may be accomplished under par. (b)
. The society may deposit in the regional depositories established under s. 44.10
, title remaining with the society, the records of state agencies or their district or regional offices which are primarily created in the geographic area serviced by the depository, but the records of all central departments, offices, establishments and agencies shall remain in the main archives in the capital city under the society's immediate jurisdiction, except that the society may place the records temporarily at a regional depository for periods of time to be determined by the society. Nothing in this subsection nor in ch. 44
prevents the society's taking the steps for the safety of articles and materials entrusted to its care in library, museum or archives, including temporary removal to safer locations, dictated by emergency conditions arising from a state of war, civil rebellion or other catastrophe.
The board may designate an archival depository at each university as defined in s. 36.05 (13)
which shall meet standards for university archival depositories established by the board with the advice of the board of regents and the historical society or their respective designated representatives. The board may transfer to the appropriate university archival depository all original records and reproductions the board deems worthy of permanent preservation.
The historical society shall, in cooperation with the staff of the board, as soon as practicable, adequately and conveniently classify and arrange the state records or other official materials transferred to its care, for permanent preservation under this section and keep the records and other official materials accessible to all persons interested, under proper and reasonable rules promulgated by the historical society, consistent with s. 19.35
. Copies of the records and other official materials shall, on application of any citizen of this state interested therein, be made and certified by the director of the historical society, or an authorized representative in charge, which certificate shall have the same force as if made by the official originally in charge of them.
Except as provided in subd. 2.
, records which have a confidential character while in the possession of the original custodian shall retain their confidential character after transfer to the historical society unless the board of curators of the historical society, with the concurrence of the original custodian or the custodian's legal successor, determines that the records shall be made accessible to the public under such proper and reasonable rules as the historical society promulgates. If the original custodian or the custodian's legal successor is no longer in existence, confidential records formerly in that person's possession may not be released by the board of curators unless the release is first approved by the public records board. For public records and other official materials transferred to the care of the university archival depository under par. (b)
, the chancellor of the university preserving the records shall have the power and duties assigned to the historical society under this section.
Notwithstanding subd. 1.
, a record which is transferred to an archival depository under this subsection and which has a confidential character shall be open to inspection and available for copying 75 years after creation of the record unless the custodian, pursuant to ss. 19.34
, determines that the record shall be kept confidential.
This subsection does not apply to patient health care records, as defined in s. 146.81 (4)
, that are in the custody or control of the department of health services.
History: 1975 c. 41
; 1975 c. 198
; 1975 c. 199
; Stats. 1975 s. 16.61; 1977 c. 418
; 1979 c. 32
; 1979 c. 361
; 1981 c. 335
; 1981 c. 350
; 1981 c. 391
; 1983 a. 27
; 1985 a. 180
; 1985 a. 332
s. 251 (1)
; 1987 a. 147
; 1987 a. 186
; 1989 a. 31
; 1991 a. 39
; 1993 a. 172
; 1995 a. 27
, 9126 (19)
; 1995 a. 216
; 2001 a. 16
; 2003 a. 33
; 2007 a. 20
s. 9121 (6) (a)
; 2009 a. 42
; 2015 a. 196
See also s. Adm 12.01
, Wis. adm. code.