Municipal Schedule Major Change: Customized Local Policy

If you have ever looked at one of our records retention schedules, you would have noticed that we like to use terms like “administrative value” and “historical value.”

This is because since all records are created for some purpose, they have some kind of value. Under records management principles, records may have four kinds of value.  As records management analysts, we schedule the records in your office based on the sort of value they contain.

Administrative value is defined as, “the usefulness of records to support ancillary operations and the routine management of an organization.”  These are usually records that will not be needed for fiscal or legal purposes, such as during audits and litigation. As records creators and custodians, you all know better when (approximately) administrative value ends than we do. In an effort to make better use of your insight and as an added protection for you legally, your local agency will now be required to set specific retention periods for records designated by the retenton schedule to have administrative value in the applicable areas of the retention schedule.  This will allow your agency the flexibility to determine retention periods that serves your administrative needs.

Here’s the verbatim wording on the Signature Page (note: this change will be made to county and municipal schedules from this point forward):

This local government agency and the Department of Cultural Resources agree that certain records series possess only brief administrative, fiscal, legal, research, and reference value.  These records series have been designated by retention periods which allow these records to be destroyed when “administrative/reference value ends.”  The local government agency hereby agrees that it will establish and enforce internal policies setting minimum retention periods for the records that Cultural Resources has scheduled with the disposition instruction “destroy when administrative/reference value ends.”  If a municipality does not establish internal policies and retention periods, the municipality is not complying with the provisions of this retention schedule and is not authorized by the Department of Cultural Resources to destroy the records with the disposition instruction “destroy when administrative/reference value ends.”

Here’s what it will look like:

Signing the Retention Schedule will mean that your office will agree upon a retention period for those records that we have deemed to warrant such “localized” policies. We suggest that you decide these retention periods during the approval process, enter them into a PDF version of the schedule, and save your customized schedule on a staff Intranet or other place where everyone affected will have access to it.

Still confused as to what administrative value means?  Generally, records with administrative value are the ones that help your office do its work.  As mentioned above, many records in the Records Retention and Disposition Schedule [check here for municipal and county schedules and here for state agency schedules] are scheduled to be destroyed “in office when administrative value ends” [unclear about what “in office” means? Check this blog entry.]  You can translate that retention period as “when you don’t need them to do your job anymore.”  Did you distribute that bulletin for the staff holiday party?  That occurred last month?  Then administrative value has ended and you can dispose of the original Word document you might have used to create the bulletin. Feel free to contact me at or 919.807.7357 if you have any questions at all about establishing local policies in regards to administrative value.