Getting to Know the Local Government Records Commission

If you have ever enrolled in a public school, checked out a book from the public library, registered your car with the DMV, or received a parking ticket, you have been involved in the creation of local government records. Local records promote government transparency and may have future historical or research significance.

The Local Government Records Commission (LGRC) determines which records have permanent value and which may be destroyed. Established in 1987, the Commission consists of sixteen members. The Governor appoints ten members, including a representative from a historically black college or university; one probate judge who is not a chairman of a county commission; one chairman of a county commission who is not a probate judge; one county administrator; one county taxation official; two city clerks; one superintendent of a county or municipal school system; one county sheriff; and one municipal police chief. Another two representatives come from Auburn University and the University of Alabama. The remaining four members are ex officio and include the Director of the Department of Archives and History, the Chief Examiner of the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State. More information about the creation and composition of the LGRC is available on the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) website.

The LGRC is responsible for issuing retention guidelines and other regulations for local government records based on their evidential, informational, and historical value. The Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) Records Management staff support the LGRC by conducting surveys of public records created by counties, municipalities, and other agencies of local government and developing retention schedules (more formally known as Records Disposition Authorities or RDAs) and by offering records management training. The RDA designates which records are temporary and permanent and gives local governments the authority to destroy temporary records after a specified amount of time, or retention period.

Unlike state agencies, most local agencies do not have their own RDAs. Instead, there are generic RDAs for the following types of government entities:

  • 911 Emergency Communications Districts
  • Archives and Museums
  • Boards of Education
  • County Commission
  • County Boards of Registrars
  • County Probate Offices
  • County Taxation Offices
  • Emergency Management Agencies
  • Fire Departments
  • Health Care Authorities
  • Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Municipalities
  • Public Libraries
  • Racing Commissions
  • Regional Planning Commissions

Local governments use the appropriate RDA to determine which of their temporary records are eligible for destruction. The responsible local official submits a Local Government Records Destruction Notice to ADAH to receive a letter of eligibility. Local agencies are legally obligated to report destruction to the LGRC. See our website and our blog post “Local Government Records Destruction 101” for more detailed instructions. 

Local governments who identify records outside the current scope of the RDA can submit a request to ADAH Records Management archivists for review and presentation to the LGRC at one of two annual meetings in April and October.

As the support staff for the LGRC, ADAH assists local governments not only with temporary record destruction but also with the preservation of permanent records. ADAH offers free on-site advice about permanent record housing, storage and shelving, security, environmental control, and disaster preparedness and on long-term preservation planning for electronic records.

If you have questions about the Local Government Records Commission, would like more information about local RDAs, or would like to schedule on-site training, please contact Rebecca Hebert at becky.hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

Meet the Staff Feature: Katie Ray

For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.

Name: Katie Ray

Title: Records Management Archivist 

Specialties: Electronic Records, Records Disposition Authority (RDA) revision

How did you end up working at the Alabama Department of Archives and History?

I got hooked on archives as an undergraduate when I had the opportunity to study abroad in Paris and intern at a small literary archive. I subsequently interned at the Library of Congress and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, my alma mater. I returned to Alabama to pursue my master’s in Library and Information Studies with a certification in Archival Studies and accepted this position soon after completing the program.

What is your role?

As a Records Management Archivist, I help to develop and revise state agency RDAs which regulate record preservation and destruction. I am also the Project Archivist for the Department’s ongoing grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to preserve born-digital materials on our new electronic records portal, Preservica (https://adah.access.preservica.com/). I collect and process State Publications from the past twenty years so that our Collections Archivists can make them publicly accessible.

What is the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) Grant?

In 2017, the Alabama Department of Archives and History received grant funding from the NHPRC to increase its institutional capacity to receive, preserve, and provide access to electronic records. The grant began with a partnership with the Office of the Governor, encompassing documents such as emails, photographs, and calendars, and has since extended to the collection of electronic records such as newsletters, bulletins, and annual reports from all state agencies.

What’s your superpower?

As a previous English major, research and writing is my forte. “Easy reading requires hard writing.” I make heavy revisions so that my message is clear and concise.

What are your hobbies when you are not at work? 

I enjoy cooking, knitting, yoga, hiking, playing League of Legends, and seeking out the best cup of coffee in every city I visit. I play the clarinet and am trying to pick it back up after a long hiatus.