News from the State and Local Government Record Commissions
Vol. 2 No. 3
December, 1997


1. A New Appraisal Methodology for Public Records

Almost two years ago, the Alabama Department of Archives and History's Government Records Division began work on a new appraisal methodology for public records. Previously, staff had followed traditional appraisal theory and scheduled records at the series level, considering their fiscal, historical, informational, and evidential value without encompassing the originating agency's mission or the broader context in which the records were created. Our new methodology, functional appraisal, starts by defining the functions and activities which government agencies perform. Eight functional areas (administrative support, client services, economic development, law enforcement and emergency powers, policy and statute development, public advocacy, regulation, and stewardship) have been delineated in our work with agencies so far.

The purpose of functional appraisal is to identify the archival records needed to document an agency's functions fully over time. Archival records of state government normally warrant transfer to ADAH, while those of local governments may be preserved by the originating agency or by a county or municipal archives. (A sample Records Depository Agreement is available for agencies that wish to store records in an off-site repository. For more information, contact the Government Records Division at 334-242-4452.)

Finally, Government Records Division and agency staff work together to create a Records Disposition Authority (RDA) that identifies the agency's record-keeping requirements, targets archival records for preservation, and provides disposition instructions for temporary records. Once its RDA has been approved by the appropriate records commission, an agency can proceed to implement a program for the routine disposition of its records. Annual progress reports to the commission are required.

2. Records Disposition Authorities Approved for State Agencies

The State Records Commission approved its first RDA (for the State Board of Pharmacy) in May, 1996. Subsequently, RDAs were created for another 25 state agencies: the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners/Medical Licensure Commission of Alabama, Alabama Commission on Higher Education, Alabama Crime Victims' Compensation Commission, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission, Alabama Medicaid Agency, Alabama Plumbers and Gas Fitters Board, Alabama School of Mathematics and Science, Alabama Securities Commission, Attorney General's Office, Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama, Board of Physical Therapy, Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Department of Finance (Division of Risk Management), Department of Rehabilitation Services, Department of Revenue (Division of Motor Vehicles), Jefferson County Department of Health, Licensing Board for General Contractors, Office of the State Auditor, Office of the Treasurer, Office of Voter Registration, State Board/State Department of Education, and the State and Local Government Records Commissions. Four more state RDAs (listed on page 3) were approved at the commission's latest meeting on October 29, bringing the current total to 29.

3. Functional Appraisal and Alabama's Local Governments

While our new appraisal procedures for state records were being implemented, the ADAH local records program continued to operate under the old system of retention schedules and destruction notices. That situation, however, is now changing. Government Records Division staff have recently completed preliminary functional analyses of both counties and municipalities. A pilot project with the county boards of registrars resulted in our first local government RDA, which was formally approved at the Local Government Records Commission's meeting on October 29. The commission likewise endorsed plans to initiate pilot projects for developing municipal RDAs. This venture, which is estimated to require a full year's work, will be overseen by a committee of municipal officials, similar to the one advising on state RDAs. Upon completion, information on municipal RDAs will be disseminated through the Alabama Association of Municipal Clerks and Administrators, so that towns and cities across Alabama can be quickly enlisted in the program. Our current retention schedules for counties and municipalities will be rescinded once their replace ment RDAs are ready to be used.

Although the Government Records Division is committing much time and effort to the new appraisal system, other division services to state and local agencies (such as the State Records Center, the microfilm storage vault, and our on-site assistance program) will remain in place. For advice or help with RDA development or other matters related to your records, state agencies should call Amelia Winstead (ext. 236); county agencies should call Sandra Behel (ext. 232); and municipal agencies should call Tom Turley (ext. 234) at (334)242-4452.

Judge Coley Retires from ADAH Board of Trustees

Judge C.J. Coley, chairman of the ADAH Board of Trustees since 1969, retired at the board's meeting on November 6, 1997. Elected to the board in 1960, Judge Coley has actively supported the department's efforts to preserve the records and artifacts documenting Alabama's history. He was instrumental in securing funds for a new wing of the Archives building, completed in 1974 and named in his honor. Prior to his election, Judge Coley was president of Alexander City Bank and served for fourteen years as probate judge of Tallapoosa County. A noted writer on Alabama history, he has been president of the Alabama Historical Association, a founding member of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, and a member of President Nixon's Alabama Advisory Committee on Public Education. Judge Coley led the movement to create Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, dedicated in 1964, and was named an honorary member of the Creek Tribe for his role. He served as the first president of the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation, received the Silver Beaver Award for his work with Boy Scouting, and was honored with the Alabama Humanities Award in 1990. The Department of Archives and History is grateful to Judge Coley for his years of leadership, and joins his many friends in state and local government in wishing him well on his retirement from the board.

Local Archives Roundtable to be Held in Montgomery

The Local Government Archives Roundtable will meet in the Archives and History Building's Milo B. Howard Auditorium (624 Washington Avenue, Montgomery) on Friday, January 30, 1998, beginning at 9:00 a.m. This advisory group (formed in February, 1997) is composed of staff from ADAH and several county or municipal archives. It meets to discuss the issues and problems affecting local archives and to encourage the development of archival programs elsewhere in the state. The group's most recent meeting, held on August 22 at the Mobile Municipal Archives, attracted 25 attendees. Any county or municipal government interested in starting an archives program should call Sandra Behel or Tom Turley at the Government Records Division (334-242-4452).

New Micrographic Publication and Forthcoming Workshop

The ADAH technical leaflet "Preparing a Contract for Archival-Quality Microfilming Services" received final approval from the two records commissions at their meeting on October 29. Although initially approved in April, it was temporarily withheld from publication pending final editing. This leaflet outlines the correct procedures for producing archival-quality microfilm of government records, including quality standards established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Association for Image and Information Management (AIIM). It is intended for use by vendors, as well as by state and local agencies, and contains a sample service contract.

As a follow-up to our recent survey of micrographic programs, ADAH will soon sponsor a microfilming workshop in Montgomery. No date has yet been set, but our intention is to hold the workshop during the first quarter of 1998. Besides state and local officials and microfilming staff, commercial vendors will be invited to attend. More information will be contained in the next issue of Government Records News or other forthcoming communications from ADAH. Meanwhile, Government Records Division staff members are available to advise state and local agencies on micrographic questions. For assistance, or for copies of the new technical leaflet, call (334)242-4452.

ADAH Reference Room to Close for Book Collection Inventory

The Department of Archives and History has not conducted a comprehensive inventory of its rare book collection since it began collecting books in 1901. On January 5-9, 1998, the ADAH reference room will close so that our staff may check for misfiled books, remove fragile volumes to a secure environment, and prepare an on-line catalog to the entire book collection. We apologize for any inconvenience to researchers, but look forward to providing improved access to the book collection upon completion of the project. Also, be aware that ADAH will close for the holidays on December 25-26 and January 1-2. The reference room, as usual, will not be open on Monday, December 29. Regular hours will resume on January 10, 1998. For more information, call (334)242-4363, ext. 276. We wish all our patrons and readers a joyous holiday season!

New Records Disposition Authorities and Schedules Approved

At its meeting on October 29, 1997, the State Records Commission approved two new records disposition authorities (RDAs) for the BOARD OF LICENSURE FOR PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS AND LAND SURVEYORS and the BOARD OF SOCIAL WORK EXAMINERS. In-house records disposition authorities were approved for records of two defunct state agencies held by the Department of Archives and History: the BOARD OF EXAMINERS IN THE BASIC SCIENCES (1960-1975) and the LICENSING BOARD FOR THE HEALING ARTS (1960-1981).

The Local Government Records Commission, likewise meeting on October 29, approved a records disposition authority for the COUNTY BOARDS OF REGISTRARS. The following new or revised general schedules were also approved:

COUNTY COMMISSIONS: Press Releases, Speeches, and Publicity Files (1 schedule).

JUDGES OF PROBATE: Applications for Absentee Ballots (1 schedule).

LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES: Jewelry and Pawn Shop Tickets and Reports, Records of Election, Vehicle Impoundment and Auction Records (3 schedules).

MUNICIPALITIES: Accounts Receivable Records, Records of Election (2 schedules).

The commission also approved four agency-specific schedules:

CITY OF DECATUR: Bartenders'/Managers' License Applications; Monsanto Building Permit Deposit Records, 1975- 1977; Cash Bond Deposits for Moving Permits, 1956-1983 (3 schedules).

SHELBY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Evidence Receipt and Transmittal Form (1 schedule).

For copies of these records disposition authorities or schedules, call the ADAH Government Records Division at (334) 242-4452.

The next meeting of the State and Local Government Records Commissions will be held on Thursday, January 29, 1998, in the Milo B. Howard Auditorium of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, 624 Washington Avenue, Montgomery. Starting times are 10:00 a.m. (state) and 1:30 p.m. (local).

"Government Records News" is published by the Government Records Division of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Box 300100, Montgomery, Alabama 36130-0100. The newsletter, and other publications, are also available on-line through the ADAH web site.

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Updated: 12/29/97