Historic documents shredded at Oklahoma Corporation Commission

The Dangers of a Small Paper Shredder | Time Shred Services


The Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s preparations for a temporary move out of the Jim Thorpe building while millions of dollars in renovation is underway presented a problem for one Corporation Commissioner.

Commissioner Bob Anthony, in a recent meeting, voiced objections to the “shredding” of what he felt were historical documents of Commission minutes. The shredding involved decades of documents personally signed by former commissioners.

Brandy Wreath, the Director of Administration at the Commission explained the decision came after consulting with the State Library and Archivist.

“She sent back a notice to destroy them because they had been scanned and said the scanned versions will be the official documents.”

That didn’t suit Commissioner Anthony who pointed out the State Constitution said otherwise.

“We have a constitutional duty to maintain them,” he stated during the February meeting and found it “horrifying” to learn of their destruction.

Wreath apologized for the destruction but said the State Archive approved the shredding.

“We’re following the direction of libraries.”

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When contacted by OK Energy Today, Archivist Jan Davis said agencies do have the option to transfer records from one format to another. It is up to each agency to decide what format to use.

“For example, agencies may choose to convert paper records to electronic records to save or conserve on physical space, or even to allow for greater access to the records,” she wrote in an email response, adding, “Generally, it is the information that is of value, not the piece of paper or the specific format of the record.”

She further explained that the Oklahoma Rules and Regulations and the General Records Disposition Schedule adopted in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act does not specify which formats shall be used for records creation and retention.

Davis said the conversion of the records to the electronic format will allow the agency to share the records on its website, transfer a copy to the State Archives and maintain a back-up copy.

Commissioner Anthony disagreed with the response by Davis, saying the Corporation Commission is a Court of Record and the minutes should be permanently made available as evidence of fact.

“—for a Court of Record like the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, imaged documents should not be considered archival or permanent.  In this age of digital manipulation and “deep fakes,” the reasons are obvious.”

He said it’s still a constitutional responsibility of the Corporation Commission and no state agency has the ability to supersede the authority of the Oklahoma Constitution.