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 this essential work during biannual meetings. The Commission held its first meeting of 2022 in April at the Alabama Department of Archives and History building in Montgomery. This marked the first in-person Commission Meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for an overview of the events of the April 20, 2022, 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 22, 2022, the SRC approved the revised RDA for the Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board, line item revisions to the Public Universities and new RDAs for the Board of Midwifery and Department of Finance Division of Control and Accounts.
Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board (Revision)
The Board of Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board was founded in 1931 as the Board of Plumbers Examination and Registration of Alabama, at a time when the state sought to create a more uniform set of requirements for licensed plumbers. In 1987, the board’s scope of work expanded to also include overseeing the licensing of gas fitters, a field closely connected to plumbing. Substantial changes to the purview and operations have occurred since the last RDA revision in 2001. The RDA’s revisions account for changes in record-keeping practices, offer guidance to staff in managing their records, and expand descriptions of the subfunctions to clarify the process and duties of each.
Public Universities of Alabama (Line-Item Revision)
All public universities operate independently in Alabama but are subject to a single RDA. This situation makes the Public Universities RDA much more similar to a local RDA than to the other state agency RDAs, and revisions to the entire document would be logistically challenging. For this reason, upon request, future revisions will occur on an item-by-item level which is similar to the revision process for local government RDAs.
At the April 2022 meeting, the SRC approved revisions to the permanent series “Records of University-Wide Standing Committees” and the temporary series “Records of Other Committees.” Throughout 2020 and 2021, staff at Auburn University at Montgomery reached out to the ADAH Records Management Section for clarification on the parameters of these records series leading archivists to conclude that revisions were necessary. The revisions include clarifying that some records for standing committees, like sign-in sheets and leadership ballots, are temporary records that should be retained only for useful life and adding permanent subseries intended to preserve non-standing committee decisions which are not reported in the standing committee meeting minutes.
State Board of Midwifery (New)
Created in 2017, the State Board of Midwifery administers the state-level licensing of midwives. Before the creation of the Board and beginning in 1919, lay midwives took examinations and were licensed by county health departments. In 1976, county health departments stopped issuing licenses, and lay midwifery ended in the state of Alabama until the creation of the Board. The new RDA offers guidance to the Board members in managing their records as they work with licensed Alabamian midwives.
Department of Finance – Division of Control and Accounts (New)
The Alabama Department of Finance is one of the most complex state agencies in Alabama and is currently governed by multiple division-specific RDA. In contrast, most other state agencies are governed by an overarching RDA. The ADAH developed an RDA for the division of Control and Accounts, more commonly known as the State Comptroller’s Office. This RDA will be the first step in a larger initiative to combine the disparate RDAs into one overarching RDA for the Department of Finance.
The State Comptroller is responsible for controlling, verifying the accuracy of, and making records of all financial transactions which occur in the state government. While the State Comptroller did not have a modern RDA, the office did use a records schedule created in 1986, which supplied a basic structure for the RDA. The new, modern RDA updated the 1986 schedule and documents the essential role the State Comptroller plays in administering state finances through an exceptional historical context and inclusion of several new records series.
Records Management Section Annual Report for FY 2021
Each year the Records Management Section prepares a report summarizing the work, outreach, and initiatives undertaken by records management archivists at the ADAH. Staff presented the report and highlighted permanent records transmittals from over fifty-five state agencies, training with state and local officials, and other outreach efforts, especially with state colleges and universities. For more information on the section annual report, please see the blog post from April 16, 2022, and download a copy of the report from the Manage Public Records page on the ADAH website.
Capstone Status Report – Alabama Secretary of State’s Office Participation
The Secretary of State’s Office is the inaugural state agency to participate in a Capstone email retention policy after the SRC approved the Secretary of State’s participation proposal at the April 2022 meeting. First introduced at the 2017 SRC meeting and conceptually modeled after the Federal Capstone Approach, this retention strategy identifies key email accounts as permanently valuable while classifying the remainder of agency emails as temporarily valuable. Certain Secretary of State email accounts have been identified for permanent preservation. All other email accounts will have messages preserved for a minimum of three years after the date of creation. The Secretary of State will annually certify that the Capstone accounts are maintained in a readily accessible format.
ADAH staff will continue to collaborate with other state agencies on Capstone and will update the SRC at future meetings.
The second meeting of 2022 will be held on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, at the Alabama Department of Archives and History building. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend.