A Records Management Program is designed to apply efficient and economical management methods to the creation, utilization, maintenance, retention, preservation, and disposal of state records. Effective Records Management ensures that records are kept only as long as they have some administrative, fiscal, or legal value. When records no longer fulfill the value for which they were created, they should be destroyed unless they also have some historic or research significance. If that is the case the records should be preserved by an appropriate historical agency. Staff members should realize that an effective records management program is not only cost effective, it will also make their jobs easier. They should also know that records retained beyond their value “just in case” only extend the agency’s legal liability in the event of adverse litigation.
When reviewing files in your department, please use the records retention schedule to confirm whether or not the records are ready for destruction. If they are, your first step is to complete the Records Destruction Authorization Form.
- File #: This is the file number used for your record keeping purposes.
- Records Description: Describe what the record is.
- Start Date: This is the oldest date in that file / group of files.
- End Date: This is the most recent date in that file / group of files.
- Box #: If you are destroying a box of records, what box are they in?
- Retention #: This is found on the records retention schedule; ex: “CC-09”
- Retention Period: This can be found under “Total Retention” on the records retention schedule; ex: “2 years"
Once you have completed this form and prior to destroying the records, route it to the following staff for approval/authorization to destroy records:
- Department head or division manager
- City Clerk
- City Attorney
If authorization is granted you will be able to destroy the records. Following physical destruction of your records, sign the form and route it back to the City Clerk’s office for their records. Destruction authorization forms are permanent record and must be kept with the City Clerk’s office.
Does the thought of destroying records bring you concern? Don’t worry, that is pretty common when thinking about removing records that may help staff years down the line. Here are some helpful questions that we ask ourselves when evaluating the significance of a record:
- How serious would it be if a particular record 5 or 10 years from now were unavailable?
- What are the chances of it being needed?
- Are the consequences serious enough to justify keeping a large volume of records for long periods of time at considerable cost?
- Is the information available anywhere else?
- What would it cost to reconstruct the record if necessary?
Answering these questions will lead to a better approach to determining how long records should be kept.