No state government employee may destroy records without first obtaining the approval of the State Records Commission (SRC) (Code of Alabama 1975 § 41-13-21). The SRC determines which state government records have permanent value and which may be destroyed after specified periods of time.
The SRC authorizes destruction through state agency Records Disposition Authorities (RDAs). RDAs designate records as either temporary records, which may be destroyed after a specified retention period, or permanent records, which are preserved for future generations. State agencies may destroy temporary records after they have satisfied the minimum retention requirements prescribed by the RDA (and presuming no litigation or other hold is placed upon the records). The retention period is only a minimum; agencies may choose to maintain records for longer than the retention period. State agencies which have an approved RDA must document the destruction of both paper and electronic records and submit this documentation to the ADAH Records Management Section each year.
The ADAH provides on its website a template destruction form, entitled the “State Government Records Destruction Notice.” While all the required information in this form is mandatory, the format is flexible. State agencies may choose to create internal procedures for documenting destruction and may create their own forms. Whichever format agencies choose, they must capture the following information:
- State agency name and department/division
- Records Title as shown on RDA
- Retention as shown on RDA
- Inclusive dates
- Date audited
- Total cubic feet (for paper records)
- Total bytes (for electronic records)
- Manner in which the records will be destroyed
- Printed name, job title, and signature of authorizing official
- Date signed
Documenting State Records Destruction
Use a Records Disposition Authority
Consult your agency’s Records Disposition Authority (RDA) for retention requirements. The RDA lists the types of records your agency creates and the minimum amount of time the records must be maintained. Once the retention has been met, state agencies may (but are not obligated to) proceed with destruction.
Identify the record type(s) that you wish to destroy. Determine whether litigation or other holds prevent the destruction of otherwise eligible records. Then, document the following information in the State Government Records Destruction Notice or form of your choosing:
- “Records Title as Shown on RDA”
Fill in the Records Title for each record type, which appear in bold in the RDA document section entitled “Records Disposition Requirements.”
- “Retention as Shown on RDA”
Fill in the minimum retention as listed in the RDA document section entitled “Records Disposition Requirements” (for example, “Retain 3 years” or “Retain 2 years following audit”).
- “Inclusive Dates”
For each record type, include the earliest and latest dates that the records were created (for example, “1998,” “May-November 2019,” or “2000-2010”).
- “Date Audited”
Some retentions are dependent on audit date. If the retention in the RDA mentions an audit date, identify when these records were made available for audit. If the retention does not mention an audit, write “N/A” for Not Applicable.
Note: Do not list your state agency’s most recent audit. Specify when the records were made available for audit. For example, consider a state agency that has been audited in 2010 and 2017. The agency is submitting a destruction notice that includes records with a minimum retention “Retain 2 years following audit” and which were created in 2008 and 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.
The format or medium of the records (paper or electronic).
The volume of the paper records being destroyed in cubic feet and/or electronic records being destroyed in bytes.
|Paper Records||List how many cubic feet are being|
destroyed for each record type
|1 Box of Copy Paper||1 Cubic Foot|
|1 Banker’s Box||2 Cubic Feet|
|1 Legal-Sized File Drawer||2 Cubic Feet|
|Fifty 100 Foot 35mm Microfilm||1 Cubic Foot|
|3×5 Cards, Ten 12″ Rows||1 Cubic Foot|
|3 Large Bound Volumes||1.5 Cubic Feet|
|Electronic Records||List how many bytes (B, KB, MB, GB, TB, or PB)|
are being destroyed
|1 Byte (B)||8 Bits|
|1 Kilobyte (KB)||1,024 Bytes|
|1 Megabyte (MB)||1,024 Kilobytes|
|1 Gigabyte (GB)||1,024 Megabytes|
|1 Terabyte (TB)||1,024 Gigabytes|
|1 Petabyte (PB)||1,024 Terabytes|
Complete the Total Records Destroyed
Add up the total cubic feet and write the sum in the field entitled “For Paper Records: Total Cubic Feet.”
Add up the total bytes and write the sum in the field entitled “For Electronic Records: Total Bytes.”
Complete the Signature Section
Ensure the appropriate authorizing official signs the notice. The notice may be signed electronically or may be printed and signed. Please remember to include the printed name and title of the authorizing official. All destruction must be reported to the Records Liaison so that they can document the destruction in the Annual RDA Implementation Report.
Destroy the Records
The SRC and LGRC do not stipulate how records should be destroyed; however, state agencies should ensure that the disposition method they use is appropriate for the records being destroyed. Records with confidential or sensitive content, such as financial information, personally identifiable information (PII), or personal health information (PHI), should be destroyed securely in a way that leaves records unreadable and unrecoverable.
For Records Liaisons: Guide to Completing the Annual RDA Implementation Report
Each year (typically in October), the ADAH Records Management Section sends state agency Records Liaisons instructions for completing the Annual RDA Implementation Report. Records Liaisons must complete the report and submit all destruction documentation to Records Management staff by January 15th of the following year.
Note: Failure to properly adhere to destruction procedures may result in an audit finding.