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.

Updates from the State Records Commission

The State Records Commission (SRC) 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 Records Disposition Authorities, or RDAs. These documents outline all records that state agencies create, identify which records should be preserved permanently, and provide disposition procedures for all other records.

State Agency Outreach and Training

Records Management staff reported on state agency consultation and training sessions and permanent records transmittals to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. In fiscal year 2019, Records Management staff held a total of 62 outreach sessions with 170 attendees. Meeting topics included RDA development and revision, records management training, and permanent records transmittal.

A few highlights include:

  • November 2018: Records Management staff met with the staff from the Alabama Department of Commerce to develop an internal records management policy and conduct training.
  • February 2019: Records Management staff provided records management training for Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth’s staff.
  • March 2019: Records Management staff and ADAH Director Steve Murray met with staff from the Department of Mental Health to discuss the transmittal of permanent records to the Archives, including seven large ledger books containing the handwritten entries of patients admitted to Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, from 1861 to 1952.
  • June – July 2019: Records Management staff conducted 13 meetings with various divisions of the Alabama Office of Information Technology (OIT) to develop a new RDA for the agency.

Permanent Record Transmittal

In fiscal year 2019, 20 state agencies transmitted a total of 528 cubic feet of permanent paper records to the ADAH, spanning from the year 1861 to the year 2019. That’s roughly enough records to fill:

  • 264 bankers boxes or legal-sized file drawers
  • 528 copy paper boxes
  • An 8’ x 8’ x 8’ bouncy castle
  • A 4,000-gallon swimming pool

The chart below shows the “Top Ten Transmitters” of fiscal year 2019 and the amount of paper records they transmitted in cubic feet. 

The majority of the Legislative Services Agency’s transmittals included Budget Change Records, Legislative Fiscal Notes Files, and Fiscal Reference Files. The Office of the Secretary of State transmitted, among other record types, 42 cubic feet of Tract Books and 18 cubic feet of Bills and Resolutions. Transmittals from the Alabama Department of Archives and History consisted primarily of State and Local Government Agency Files. Yes, you read correctly – we transmit our permanent records to ourselves!

Two other notable transmittals are the Office of Governor Fob James, which transmitted 7 cubic feet of photographs from his administration, and the State Council on the Arts, which transmitted 18 cubic feet of Field Recordings. Read all about how we processed these audiovisual recordings in our blog post, “Preserving Alabama’s Musical Heritage: The Alabama State Council on the Arts Processing Project.”

New and Revised State Agency RDAs

The State Records Commission approved new or revised RDAs for the following agencies:

Home Builders Licensure Board (Major RDA Revision)

The Home Builders Licensure Board screens and licenses applicants who engage in residential construction and remodeling in the state of Alabama where the cost of the undertaking exceeds $10,000 and applicants who engage in residential roofing in the state of Alabama where the cost of the undertaking exceeds $2,500.

Alabama Act 2018-143, effective May 1, 2018, authorized the Home Builders Licensure Board to license roofers in addition to home builders. The RDA has been revised to reflect the board’s expanded regulatory scope.

Alabama Board for Registered Interior Designers (Major RDA Revision)

The Alabama Board for Registered Interior Designers governs the registration process for interior designers, who analyze, plan, design, document, and manage interior non-structural construction and alteration projects. Interior designers submit construction documents for commercial interior projects to building officials for review and permitting purposes.

The RDA has been revised to include the outcome of Alabama v. Lupo, an Alabama Supreme Court case which required the board’s governing legislation to be rewritten. Licensees of the Alabama Board for Registered Interior Designers are known as “registered interior designers,” in contrast to interior decorators, who focus primarily on aesthetics and do not participate in renovations or structural planning.

Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (Major RDA Revision)

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences investigates unlawful, suspicious, or unnatural deaths and crimes in the state. The department provides forensic test results to members of the criminal justice system, such as Sheriffs’ Offices, in all 67 counties of Alabama.

The RDA has been revised to include mention of databases, including a federal database and in-house case management system, and to better describe several temporary record types.

Alabama Office of Information Technology (New RDA)

The Office of Information Technology (OIT)streamlines the delivery of information technology services in state government. OIT focuses on three primary mandates: IT strategic planning, IT governance, and IT resource utilization.

This RDA is new, and its listed agency subfunctions include “Promulgating Rules and Regulations,” “Planning and Promoting,” “Providing Services,” and “Inventorying.” The agency’s permanent records are associated with the agency’s role as the state’s central regulatory body for information technology and responsibility to inventory information technology assets.

Next Meeting

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