Updates from the Local Government Records Commission

The Local Government Records Commission (LGRC) met on October 30, 2019 at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. The Code of Alabama 1975 § 41-13-21 charges the Commission with determining “which government records shall be permanently preserved…and which may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of.” The Commission meets every April and October to approve local government Records Disposition Authorities, or RDAs. These documents outline the records that local agencies create, identify which records should be preserved permanently, and provide disposition procedures for all other records.

Obsolete Records Destruction

At the meeting, Records Management staff reported on authorized local records destruction. In fiscal year 2019, local governments submitted 761 destruction notices, totaling 37,955.31 cubic feet of obsolete records. While local governments are not required to destroy obsolete records, doing so allows governments to better focus their limited resources.

The three counties submitting notices the most frequently were Mobile County, Madison County, and Shelby County. Records Management staff conducted a large-scale training session in Huntsville early in the year, educating department managers on records law in Alabama.

County Probate Offices accounted for 27 of 74 notices and received permission to destroy 11,108.77 cubic feet (nearly 30% of the total cubic feet destroyed in fiscal year 2019).

Systematic records management supports an organization’s mission, operations, and activities. Records Management staff offer free on-site training on records disposal and other records management topics, such as the preservation of permanent records, to local government agencies. To schedule training, contact Rebecca Hebert, State and Local Records Coordinator, at becky.hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

Reformatted RDAs on the ADAH Website

The Local Government RDAs on the Alabama Department of Archives and History website have been reformatted and standardized. New indices at the end of each RDA list the page number corresponding to every record series. Because RDA record numbers may change as revisions occur, local officials should be sure to consult the most updated version of the RDA when requesting authorization to destroy records.

Any records not present may not be destroyed until the RDA has been revised to include them. If you find that a record is not covered by the RDA, contact Rebecca Hebert at becky.hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

In calendar year 2019, the LGRC approved 25 revisions or additions to Local Government RDAs.

Revised Local RDAs

The Local Government Records Commission approved revisions to the following local record series:

All or multiple local RDAs

  • “Affordable Care Act Compliance Files” (new record series for all local RDAs)

Employers are required to submit documentation to the federal government to demonstrate their compliance with the Affordance Care Act. RDAs previously did not address this documentation. In accordance with federal requirements, these records should be retained for three years after submission.

  • “Purchasing Records” (revised record series for all local RDAs)

Previously, some RDAs described this series as including “invoices for goods” and others as “invoices for services.” The description is now “invoices for goods and services” in order to broaden the scope and establish consistency across RDAs. The retention remains two years after audit.

  • “Applications and Exemptions for Utility Fee Exemptions” (revised record series for County Commissions and Municipalities RDAs)

The previous description of these records was limiting, addressing only sanitation fee exemptions. The series now addresses all utility fee exemptions. The retention remains two years following audit.

  • “Utility Equipment Rebates” (new record series for County Commissions and Municipalities RDAs)

These records document rebates which public utility companies may issue to encourage the installation, purchase, and/or use of certain utility equipment, such as water heaters and environmentally friendly appliances. The retention is two years after audit.

Boards of Education

Alabama’s local boards of education offer a free public education to every Alabama child in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade.

  • “Internal Ballots and Related Files” (New record series)

These records document the use of internal secret ballots for purposes such as electing members of budget committees and approving the budget for state allocation funds. The retention is three years.

  • “School Bus Student Rosters” (Revised record series title and description)

The previous description of these records was limiting. These records provide a list of all students on the bus arranged by morning stop number. Information in the records may include, but is not limited to, each student’s name, grade/age, morning and afternoon pick-up/drop-off time, and emergency phone number. The retention remains one year after the current school year ends.

  • “Student Transportation Arrangements and Related Files” (New record series)

These records document student transportation arrangements authorized by parents/guardians, such as whether students will ride the bus, drive a personal vehicle, or ride with other students to and from school. The retention is one year after the end of the school year in which the records were created.

County Commissions

The County Commission RDA originally covered all functions administered by county government; RDAs have since been created to cover more specific subdivisions such as County Boards of Registrars, County Probate Offices, County Taxation Offices, and Law Enforcement Agencies.

The County Commission RDA contains records covering policy, revenue collection, utility and sanitation, roads and bridges, public transportation, senior services, community development, zoning, licensing, animal control, emergency management, and routine administering operations.

  •  “Structural Condemnation Files” (New record series)

These records document the government’s determination that buildings within their respective jurisdictions are not structurally sound. The retention is five years after destruction of the building.

Law Enforcement Agencies

Local law enforcement agencies prevent, control, and reduce crime; enforce criminal law and apprehend criminals; monitor the activities of the courts and related agencies having criminal jurisdiction; and ensure public safety.

  • “Background Investigation Files” (Revised record series description)

Previously, the description only addressed background checks conducted for employment purposes. Background checks may also be performed for purposes such as housing. Moreover, law enforcement agencies may not be notified whether applicant checks are successful, a distinction previously necessary for destruction. The series now includes both successful and unsuccessful applicant files and background checks for purposes beyond employment.

  • “Inmate Commissary Files” (New record series)

These records document the request for and receipt of goods from the commissary of a correctional facility. The retention is one year.

  •  “Investigation Files (including internal affairs files)” (Revised record series description)

Previously, the retention of these records was based on the nature of the criminal offense committed. Officers may conduct investigations of deaths unconnected to a crime, such as vehicular accidents and suicides. The revision adds “death investigations” as a record type with a retention of twenty-five years after the investigation is closed.

  • “Sex Offender Registration Records” (Revised record series description)

This retention is currently phrased “5 years after residence in the county ends.” The revised description clarifies that law enforcement agencies may also destroy Sex Offender Registration files after five years following the verification of the offender’s death.

Municipalities

In the United States, “municipalities” are understood to be a city, town, or other unit of local government authorized by the state constitution or state statute. Examples of core municipal government entities include mayor’s offices, city councils, city managers, and city clerks. Municipalities also include a variety of functions such as parks and recreation, utilities, sanitation, maintenance of streets and bridges, public transportation, licensing, permitting, and zoning.

  • “Property Assessment Requests” (New record series)

These records document requests by attorneys and/or property owners for information on whether any property fees are owed to the municipality. The retention is three years.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Local Government Records Commission will be held on April 22, 2020 in the Regions Room at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s