Text messaging has become an integral part of communications. Text messages relating to Health District business, regardless of whether they are transmitted using a personal or agency-issued device, are considered public record and subject to compliance with the Public Records Act. As text messaging is an effective and commonplace method of communication, the District seeks to balance its use, minimize associated security risks, and comply with requirements for management and retention.
Research performed by the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) identified four general forms of texting policies utilized throughout Washington State:
- Prohibit texting
- Ban texting with limited exceptions
- Allow texting with proper retention practices
- Allow texting only of a transitory nature
Based on current texting work practices, capacity, and financial considerations in establishing a retention service, the District is proposing a policy to allow texting only of a transitory nature.
Transitory is defined in the draft policy as “Records and information created or received to pass along information of very temporary, short-term value. Transitory refers to the content of the information, not the format of how the information is shared. Examples of transitory records/information includes, but are not limited to, informal notices of meetings, directions, personal messages and announcements, running late for a meeting, appointment times, or contains information that is included in another District record.”
POL 210.002 – Text Messaging (Exhibit A) is the first texting policy for the District. This policy includes:
- Establishment of definitions
- Establish alignment with current practices
- Establishes texting policies for both health services and non-health business needs
Since last month’s briefing, no additional feedback has been received and no changes have been made. The draft policy has been shared with Weed, Graafstra & Associates for review.