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.

Getting to Know the Local Government Records Commission

If you have ever enrolled in a public school, checked out a book from the public library, registered your car with the DMV, or received a parking ticket, you have been involved in the creation of local government records. Local records promote government transparency and may have future historical or research significance.

The Local Government Records Commission (LGRC) determines which records have permanent value and which may be destroyed. Established in 1987, the Commission consists of sixteen members. The Governor appoints ten members, including a representative from a historically black college or university; one probate judge who is not a chairman of a county commission; one chairman of a county commission who is not a probate judge; one county administrator; one county taxation official; two city clerks; one superintendent of a county or municipal school system; one county sheriff; and one municipal police chief. Another two representatives come from Auburn University and the University of Alabama. The remaining four members are ex officio and include the Director of the Department of Archives and History, the Chief Examiner of the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State. More information about the creation and composition of the LGRC is available on the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) website.

The LGRC is responsible for issuing retention guidelines and other regulations for local government records based on their evidential, informational, and historical value. The Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) Records Management staff support the LGRC by conducting surveys of public records created by counties, municipalities, and other agencies of local government and developing retention schedules (more formally known as Records Disposition Authorities or RDAs) and by offering records management training. The RDA designates which records are temporary and permanent and gives local governments the authority to destroy temporary records after a specified amount of time, or retention period.

Unlike state agencies, most local agencies do not have their own RDAs. Instead, there are generic RDAs for the following types of government entities:

  • 911 Emergency Communications Districts
  • Archives and Museums
  • Boards of Education
  • County Commission
  • County Boards of Registrars
  • County Probate Offices
  • County Taxation Offices
  • Emergency Management Agencies
  • Fire Departments
  • Health Care Authorities
  • Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Municipalities
  • Public Libraries
  • Racing Commissions
  • Regional Planning Commissions

Local governments use the appropriate RDA to determine which of their temporary records are eligible for destruction. The responsible local official submits a Local Government Records Destruction Notice to ADAH to receive a letter of eligibility. Local agencies are legally obligated to report destruction to the LGRC. See our website and our blog post “Local Government Records Destruction 101” for more detailed instructions. 

Local governments who identify records outside the current scope of the RDA can submit a request to ADAH Records Management archivists for review and presentation to the LGRC at one of two annual meetings in April and October.

As the support staff for the LGRC, ADAH assists local governments not only with temporary record destruction but also with the preservation of permanent records. ADAH offers free on-site advice about permanent record housing, storage and shelving, security, environmental control, and disaster preparedness and on long-term preservation planning for electronic records.

If you have questions about the Local Government Records Commission, would like more information about local RDAs, or would like to schedule on-site training, please contact Rebecca Hebert at becky.hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

Getting to Know the Alabama State Records Commission

What is at the center of the state’s government records management program? The State Records Commission (or SRC), established in 1955, oversees the disposition of all state government records. The Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) serves as support staff for the State Records Commission and provides records management assistance to all state agencies.

You can’t keep everything forever, but where can you turn for help? ADAH Records and Information Management staff, in cooperation with agency representatives, compile Records Disposition Authorities (RDAs) for state agencies. Those RDAs are then approved by the State Records Commission.

RDAs list records agencies create and maintain while carrying out their mandated functions and activities. They also establish minimum retention periods and disposition instructions for those records; provide the legal authority for agencies to implement records destruction; and identify permanent state records that will ultimately be transferred to the Alabama Department of Archives and History for preservation and public access.

The nine-member State Records Commission oversees the approval of all new and revised state agency RDAs. Commission members represent various state agencies and public universities across Alabama, including Auburn University, the University of Alabama, one of Alabama’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Attorney General, Secretary of State, Department of Finance, Department of Revenue, and Examiners of Public Accounts. Steve Murray, ADAH Director, chairs the Commission.

All state agencies are required by the Code of Alabama to create an RDA. Currently, more than 170 Alabama state agencies and commissions have established RDAs through the State Records Commission. If your agency does not have an RDA, they should contact ADAH as soon as possible to initiate the development process. Even those agencies that have RDAs often find themselves in need of revising their existing retention schedules, due to changes in legislation or the discovery or creation of new types of records. All RDA revisions are written in consultation with ADAH staff and brought to the State Records Commission, which meets twice a year, for final approval.

The State Records Commission will meet on Wednesday, October 24, at ADAH in Montgomery. The agenda includes discussion of revisions to existing RDAs for several state agencies, including the Department of Commerce, Board of Medical Examiners/Medical Licensure Commission, State Board of Pharmacy, School of Mathematics and Science, and Mobile County Health Department. Meetings are open to the public.

If you have questions about the Alabama State Records Commission generally, or would like more information about updating your state agency’s RDA, please contact Rebecca L. Hebert at becky.hebert@archives.alabama.gov.