Five Questions with Deborah Kennedy, Manager for Archives, Records Management, and Mail Services, Dept. of Executive Services

1. What was your first role with King County? I came to King County in the fall of 2000 as the County Archivist. As Archivist I was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Archives including caring for and building the County historical records collection. Records become eligible for disposition when they reach the end of their retention period. If records are determined to have archival value, transfer to the Archives is one of the possible dispositions. In general, records are considered archival if they have a research use beyond the use for which they were created. Determining if records had archival value and locating the records in the archival collection were the two things I enjoyed most about my position as County Archivist. In the Archives there were always new questions to answer and mysteries to solve.

Deb Kennedy

2. What does ARMMS do? The Archives, Records Management and Mail Services Section is composed of four distinct work groups that are responsible for the management of current, inactive and historic records and information assets. Mail Services processes and distributes interoffice and USPS mail. The mail is one source of the multitude of current records received by County agencies every day.  The Records Management Program provides the tools and education necessary to implement records management best practices throughout the County. Just one year ago, in March of 2013, the Records Management Program embarked on an ambitious endeavor to teach all County employees about their records management responsibilities and provide them with the tools to manage their records. Those tools are records retention schedules, file plans and the King County Electronic Records Management System (KC ERMS). The Records Center is the County’s designated storage facility for inactive records. Records are sent to inactive storage in the Records Center when they are no longer needed by the agency that created them for their daily work but before they have reached the end of their required retention period. If an agency needs access to records they have sent to inactive storage the Records Center staff pulls the records and returns them to the agency. The Records Center staff uses the KC ERMS to manage and track the Records Center inventory including circulation and disposition. The Archives collects, preserves and makes the County’s records of enduring historical value available for research purposes. Once records have been transferred to the Archives the Archives staff arranges and describes them to make it easier for anyone who wants to research the County’s history to find the records that will inform that research.

3. What do you like most about your job? The people I work with and the sense of providing a valuable service to the public. I am an historian by training and it is my sincere belief that records are an invaluable resource for King County, its employees and the public at large. As the Archivist of the United States put it, records are the backbone of an open government.

4. What is the biggest challenge in your job? Teaching my colleagues—all County employees—about the importance of records and records management. Helping them to understand that KC ERMS isn’t just about managing email, although that is an important part, but is about managing all records created and received in the course of doing the County’s business.

5. What is your main goal for 2014? My main goal for 2014 is to continue to move the Countywide Records Management Initiative forward. The goal of the RMI is to provide the tools and training necessary for all County employees and agencies to manage the records they create to document the work they do in the most efficient and cost effective manner.