Updates from the State Records Commission: April 28, 2021

The Code of Alabama 1975 § 41-13-21 entrusts the State Records Commission (SRC) with the duty of determining “which government records shall be permanently preserved…and which may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of.” The SRC carries out its essential work during biannual meetings. The first meeting of 2021 was conducted via teleconference. Virtual meetings were made possible by Governor Kay Ivey’s March 18, 2020 proclamation, which permitted commissions to meet and establish a quorum electronically in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for an overview of the events of the April 28, 2021 meeting. 

New and Revised State Agency RDAs

The SRC revises and approves Records Disposition Authorities (RDAs). RDAs describe the records state agencies create, identify which should be preserved permanently, and provide disposition procedures for temporary records. On April 28, 2021, the SRC approved revisions to the RDAs for the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. Additionally, the commission approved a new RDA for the Alabama Women’s Commission. 

Alabama Department of Archives and History (Revision) 

The ADAH serves as Alabama’s official repository for permanent records created by state agencies Additionally, the ADAH features a special-collections library, public research facilities, and the Museum of Alabama—the state history museum. The ADAH recently facilitated observances of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial and was an integral part of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. Regarding the latter, the agency helped plan and implement commemorative activities including educational programs, the establishment of Bicentennial Park, and the particularly showstopping conservation and  special exhibition of the Alabama’s six constitutions through the We the People: Alabama Defining Documents exhibit. In adapting to technological advances characterizing the twenty-first century, the ADAH also launched a web-based portal providing increased access to born-digital government records. The revisions to ADAH’s RDA account for these new activities and update the document’s structure to reflect contemporary archival standards.

Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (Revision)

The Legislature established the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education in 1998 to coordinate programs and services for children, support state and local Children’s Policy Councils, and address gaps in services. The department regulates the state’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program, establishes standards for pre-school teachers, develops education frameworks through the third-grade level, and administers the Children First Trust Fund. The RDA’s revisions expand the descriptions of the existing record series and account for new programs.

Alabama Women’s Commission (New) 

The Alabama Women’s Commission researches and monitors women’s issues in the state of Alabama. As part of their duties, the Commission submits an annual report to the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office. This report documents the number and proportion of women appointed to state and public boards, commissions, authorities, and committees during the preceding year. The Alabama Department of Labor assists the Women’s Commission with many of its administrative functions. The new RDA offers guidance to staff in managing their records. 

This report from the Governor’s Commission presents the results of a survey of Alabama women in the 1960s. The Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women was a precursor to the Alabama Women’s Commission.

State Agency Annual RDA Implementation Report FY 2020 Compliance Update 

An Annual RDA Implementation Report provides information about an agency’s records management activities and RDA compliance. Each agency with an approved RDA must submit this report. The FY 2020 Annual RDA Implementation Reporting period marked the inaugural request that agencies also submit electronic meeting files with the report. At the meeting, Records Management staff provided an update to the SRC on agency compliancy, total cubic feet of permanent records transferred to the ADAH, and eligible, obsolete temporary records destruction during FY 2020. 

State Agency Outreach and Training 

Within the annual RDA Implementation Reporting process and as part of enhanced outreach to state colleges and universities, Records Management staff highlighted the safety and availability of virtual training sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic. This approach proved wildly popular; of the twenty-one higher education institutions that submitted an annual report, fifteen requested records management training.

Capstone Status Report 

Records Management staff briefed the SRC on continued discussions with state agencies regarding the possibility of implementing the Capstone approach to email retention. First introduced at a 2017 SRC meeting and conceptually modeled after the Federal Capstone Approach, this retention strategy identifies select key email accounts as permanently valuable while classifying the remainder of agency emails as temporarily valuable. An initial analysis of 73 Alabama state agencies identified 310 positions, or roughly 1% of employees within state government, which might warrant designation as Capstone email accounts. On February 18, 2021, ADAH Director Steve Murray and Records Management staff held a virtual forum with state agencies where they outlined current email preservation obligations under state records law, answered questions, and addressed concerns from agency representatives. ADAH staff developed a survey for agencies to complete and intend to update the SRC on the survey results at the second meeting of 2021. 

Next Meeting

The second SRC meeting of 2021 will be held virtually, on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend. 

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