Now that you all have heard the news that a new Municipal Records Retention & Disposition Schedule is published..and that many of the County schedules are being updated… you are probably wondering how the schedules should be officially adopted.
First, the approval/adoption of the schedule should be made in a regular, open meeting of your governing board and recorded as an action in the minutes. It may be done as part of the consent agenda, by resolution, or other action. Then the 2012 schedule will officially supersede all older schedules and amendments. Next fax, email, or mail me a copy of just the signature page and keep the original in your office.
There have been a lot of questions about the new administrative value policy. The signature page says “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 value ends.” This process of establishing and enforcing internal policies will look different in each municipality depending on your staffing. Some of you have one-person shops while others have a myriad of department heads. The key point here is you are not expected to have every blank on the schedule filled in before you adopt the schedule. Ideally, the clerk and any pertinent and applicable department heads would have looked over the schedule and discussed the sort of records that have been marked with the “Local Agency Policy.” These records will tend to have relatively brief retention periods anyway and I would like you to keep in mind that you are only establishing minimum retention periods. Deciding to keep a record longer than the minimum retention period is a judgment call that you are certainly allowed to make.
However, the operative word in the signature page is “will,” meaning you, your board, and department heads (if applicable) are agreeing to establish what a good minimum retention period should be for records with administrative value as the question of their destruction arises. You probably will not have all the records that are listed in the schedule and we do not expect you to make up retention periods for records you do not even have. The rationale behind this is to give you all the chance to take a more active role in the management of your records. In other words, we at the Government Records Branch have acknowledged that you all have a better idea of how long these particular records need to be kept than we do. Establishing a minimum retention period for these records is meant to protect you in the case of when a citizen requests records and then wants to know why they were destroyed. If you have a clear retention policy to point to, then doing so will more quickly diffuse a potentially contentious situation. I know this seems overwhelming and you all want to do the right thing to be compliant, so I urge you to call or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.807.7357) for advice or clarification on the schedule approval process.