Updates from the State Records Commission: October 26, 2022

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 performs this essential work during biannual meetings. The Commission held its second meeting of 2022 in October at the Alabama Department of Archives and History building in Montgomery. The meeting used a hybrid in-person and electronic presence format as allowed by Alabama Act 2022-421. Read on for an overview of the events of the October
26, 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 October 26, 2022, the SRC approved revised RDAs for the Alabama State Council on the Arts and Office of Prosecution Services, a new RDA for the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame, and several line-item revisions to the Public Universities, Public Colleges, and District Attorney’s Office RDAS.

State Council on the Arts (Revision)

The State Council on the Arts was created by executive order in 1966 during a national movement to increase citizens’ ability to engage with the arts. Over its more than fifty-year history, the Arts Council has promoted and supported Alabama arts and artists by receiving and distributing funds through grants, apprenticeships, and educational programming. The types of art the Council supports have expanded over the years to include funding for literary arts during the 1980s, with the Center for Traditional Culture established in 1990. The RDA’s revisions account for agency organizational changes, including incorporating several programs since the last RDA revision in 2006, adding several new temporary and permanent records series not previously represented, and offering guidance to staff in managing their records.

Office of Prosecution Services (Revision)

The Office of Prosecution Services was established in 1975 to provide district attorneys’ offices and law enforcement agencies with training, educational materials, and administrative assistance. The agency was created when the State of Alabama implemented judicial reform by unifying courts across the state, creating forty-one districts.

As time and technology have changed, the types of crime law enforcement agencies deal with have required substantial changes to the purview and specific programs provided by the Office of Prosecution Services. The RDA’s revisions account for the removal and addition of particular programs, changes in record-keeping practices, and expanded descriptions of the subfunctions to clarify the agency’s process and duties.

Women’s Hall of Fame (New)

Alabama has a long history of creating halls of fame to honor the accomplishments and contributions of its citizens, and in June 1970, a Women’s Hall of Fame was announced. Governor Albert Brewer appointed a five-member nominating committee with the assistance of Judson College’s acting President, Judge Fleetwood Carnely. One of the oldest women’s colleges in the nation, Judson was an ideal host site for a Women’s Hall of Fame.

Over the next five years, the hall of fame inducted several women annually before Act 1975-1061 granted state agency status to the hall of fame, including an annual appropriation for its operations. Judson College continued to host the Women’s Hall of Fame until 2021, when the college closed. Bipartisan legislation authorized the search for a new host institution in 2021. The University of West Alabama, another institution that began as a female academy, was selected to host the hall of fame in 2022.

The new RDA offers guidance to the host institution in managing the records created by the Women’s Hall of Fame as it celebrates the diverse achievements of women significant to the Yellowhammer state’s history and culture.

Line-Item Revisions

All public colleges and universities operate independently in Alabama but are subject to a single RDA. Alabama’s district attorney’s offices are also independent of one another but are subject to a single RDA. These RDA revisions are much more similar to local RDA revisions, as revisions to the entire document would be logistically challenging. For this reason, upon request, future modifications to these three RDAs will occur at an item-by-item level, similar to the revision process for local government RDAs.

    • Managing Finances (Public Universities RDA, Public Colleges RDA, and District Attorney’s Office RDA) The Administering Internal Operations–Managing Finances subfunction is possibly the most utilized section of any state agency RDA. Therefore, the retentions for records in this subfunction have been revised in accordance with current archival practices, and any missing standard financial records series that are included in all new RDAs have been added. 

    • Informational and Promotional Materials (Public Universities RDA and Public Colleges RDA) This revision expands the outdated language of the “Informational and Promotional Materials” series. The series has been replaced with the permanent series “Representational Final Versions of Informational and Promotional Materials” and has a temporary subseries “Informational and Promotional Working Files.” This series and sub-series are standard in all new and revised RDAs and adhere to current archival standards. Additionally, while records management archivists worked through this revision, it was determined that the now-standard record series “Photographs” and “Audiovisual Recordings” should also be added to these RDAs.

    • Withdrawal Records (Public Universities RDA and Public Colleges RDA) This revision adds records not currently addressed in the RDAs. Higher education students may request to withdraw from a course because of life circumstances beyond their control, including, but not limited to, military service or a medical emergency. The requests and supporting documentation will be retained for five years, with the withdrawal authorization to be retained permanently.  

    • Grant Records (District Attorney’s Office RDA) If government records are not included in an RDA, they cannot be dispositioned. It was brought to the SRC’s attention that the approved District Attorney’s Office RDA did not include grant records. Two series have been added to the RDA to address the grants’ omission. First, grant financial records have been added to the “Managing Finances” subfunction and should be kept for six years after submission of the final expenditure report or conclusion of the grant or two years after audit, whichever is longer. The second series, which comprises one permanent sub-series for the Grant Project Final Narrative and three temporary sub-series covering grant-supporting documentation, has been added to the Administering Internal Operations subfunction.

State Agency Annual RDA Implementation Report FY 2021 Compliance Update

An Annual RDA Implementation Report provides information about an agency’s records management activities and RDA compliance. RDAs are required for state agencies, and each agency with an approved RDA must submit this report. In addition to the report, agencies are asked to transmit meeting files, organizational charts, registers and rosters, and state publications. A new initiative of the FY 2021 Annual RDA Implementation Report was a request to public colleges and universities to transmit institutional reports. Records Management staff updated the SRC at the meeting on agency compliance, total cubic feet of permanent records transferred to the ADAH, and eligible temporary records destruction during FY 2020.  

Capstone Status Report–Alabama Department of Archives and History

With the SRC’s approval at the October 2022 meeting, the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) has become the second state agency to participate in a Capstone email retention policy. 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 ADAH 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 ADAH will annually certify that the Capstone accounts are maintained in a readily accessible format.

ADAH staff will continue collaborating with other state agencies on Capstone and update the SRC at future meetings.

Next Meeting

The first meeting of 2023 will be held on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at the Alabama Department of Archives and History building. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend.

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