Local Government Records Destruction: Avoid Common Errors

When submitting your Local Government Records Destruction Notice to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, avoiding common errors will help the Archives staff process and return your destruction notice more quickly.

For detailed instructions on completing a Local Government Records Destruction Notice, please visit our blog titled “Local Government Records Destruction 101.”

Use a Records Disposition Authority

The place to start when filling out a local government destruction notice is the Records Disposition Authority (RDA), starting with identifying the correct RDA for your locality (ex. Municipalities, County Commissions, County Probate Offices, Boards of Education, Law Enforcement Agencies, etc.)

In the Records Disposition Authority (RDA), the third section lists the types of records your locality creates and the minimal amount of time the records must be maintained; however, local governments are permitted to keep records longer than the time interval specified. You will use the information found in the RDA to complete page two of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice.

Identify and List Record Type, Number, and Retention – Do NOT List Records as “Joe’s Desk Drawer”

Inheriting a basement full of boxes labeled “Joe’s Desk Drawer,” or “Misc.” is frustrating; however, if you list “Joe’s Desk Drawer” or “Miscellaneous” on a destruction notice, Archives’ staff cannot determine if these records are in fact eligible for destruction. Because you have access to these records, you must identify the record type(s) in that box. Are these files “Accounting Records,” “Routine Correspondence,” “Administrative Reference Files,” or “Project Files?”

Each record type should be listed on page two of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice with the corresponding retention and number. Also note that some record types may be broken into its components (ex. 16.05a, 16.05b, 16.05c). Being specific and completing all columns on page two (RDA Record #, Records Title as Shown on RDA, Date Span, Retention as Shown on RDA, Date Audited, and Volume) will eliminate the need for follow-up phone calls that delay approval.

Understand “Date Audited Field”

Some retentions are dependent on audit date. For the “Date Audited” field on page two, do not automatically list your local government’s most recent audit. We need to know when the records you want to destroy were made available for audit. For example, if records originally produced in 2008 were audited in 2010, the agency should write 2010 in this field, as this was the audit cycle in which the 2008 records were made available. Even if these records weren’t pulled for the audit, we need to know when they were made available.

If the retention does not mention an audit (ex. “Retain 3 years”), put N/A for Not Applicable.

Include Appropriate Signature

Don’t forget to have your locality’s destruction notice signed. The signature can be completed in ink and scanned or electronically signed in Adobe PDF. Typing in the name does not count as an electronic signature. In addition to the signature, also include the name and title of the authorizing official who has signed the destruction notice.

For schools, the notice must be signed by the Superintendent of Education for your district, in accordance with Alabama Department of Education policy.

For Assistance

Proper destruction allows local governments to focus limited resources on vital, essential, and historical records important to citizens. ADAH staff are here to assist your local government in identifying which records are eligible for destruction and to aid in the preservation of your local government’s permanent records.

For questions, please email Becky.Hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

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