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Local Government FAQ's

Records Management Electronic/Paper Retention

What does records retention scheduling mean and why do it?

Your agency needs to know how long to keep its records, and what to do with them afterward.  Should they be destroyed, or should they be preserved permanently?  Records retention scheduling organizes your agency’s records into series, and sets a retention period for each series.  It also establishes the correct disposition – destroy or Archival (permanent) – for each series.

Why must my municipality/agency schedule its records?

Records retention schedules drive an agency's records management program;
Schedules provide the guidance necessary to prevent unneeded records from cluttering agency offices and to preserve mid to long-term records until they have served their purpose.

How does scheduling work for digital records?

This works the same way as for paper, microfilm, and other "traditional format" records. The most important principle to remember is this:  Content, not format, determines retention.

What if we have a record that is not listed in our schedules?

On occasion it does happen that a municipality, while cleaning out their office, finds a document/record that is not listed in the schedules. When this happens please call our office.  We can help you find a schedule that would pertain (even if it isn’t clearly labeled) to the document/record.  If we cannot find a schedule that the document relates to, we will contact the Archives Advisory Board.

Do we have to keep documents in our email?

Email is subject to the same retention requirements as paper correspondence, based on message content.

Organizing and managing email (and other files) will save space, provide more efficient access, and make it easier to maintain confidentiality when that is required.  Organizing and managing email will reduce going through outdated records in response to legal discovery proceedings and Freedom of Access Act requests.  It will also give you authority to delete files due for destruction, which means that you cannot be held liable for failing to produce those files if someone requests them later on.

What if municipal records are stored at my home office and not in a vault?

State law requires each local government to have a fireproof safe or vault to protect permanently valuable records. Recent fires in several towns provide a reminder about the perils of not protecting critical records. In the text of the law it states:

Safe or vault for preservation. Each local government shall provide a fireproof safe or vault for the preservation of all records that must be retained permanently but are not required for business purposes. The official having responsibility for those records shall deposit them in the safe or vault where those records must be kept except when required for use.