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Policies and Procedures

Policies and procedures are a fundamental aspect of records management. Having established policies and procedures ensures that your government’s records management program runs smoothly and efficiently. 


Policies are rules, principles, guidelines, or frameworks that are adopted or designed by your government to achieve long term goals. The policy is usually viewed as the “What” or “Why” of the problem; and it is the general rule required to be followed that points the way to the general goal or desired outcome you wish to reach. They are usually set out in a written format that is easily accessible.
Image.  Man at computer workstation
Policies are formulated to influence and ensure consistency of all major decisions made within your government. Written policies establish boundaries for your government and allow your government a basis of perspective when reviewing and updating their goals. 


Procedures are an established way of doing something. It is a series of actions, conducted in a certain order or manner. Procedures are usually viewed as the “How” of the problem, it documents the things you need to do to get the desired outcome and provides the step-by-step instructions for specific routine tasks.  

Benefits of Policies and Procedures 

Developing and/or documenting your policies and procedures offer the following benefits: 
  • It enhances program longevity and allows them to become an acceptable part of your business process, and institutionalized practices last longer. 
  • It aids in uniform implementation because it standardizes practices and allows everyone to play by the same rules. 
  • It serves as a training tool because it offers step-by-step instructions, delegates responsibilities and can assist with new hires. 
  • It supports external uses of your records because it defends your record keeping practices in court and creates uniform and efficient services of your records. 
Documenting policies and procedures prevent improvised decisions and can protect your government if your recordkeeping practices are challenged. 
You can learn more about policies and procedures in the webinar, Establishing Records Management Policies and Procedures

Sample Policies and Procedures

If you are with a State Agency, the State Agency Manual of Records Management Policies provides a sample records management policy manual for executive branch agencies in New York State government.

If you are a Local Government, consider the Town of Big Thunder Manual of Records Management Policies and Procedures, a sample manual written for a fictional town that is intended to serve as a model for towns and other local governments in upstate New York.

The publication, Developing a Policy for Managing Email, provides a starting point for state agencies and local governments to use for writing policies and procedures for managing email.  

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You can find more information about Policies and Procedures in the following publications: