Technical
Leaflet


State and Local Government Records Commissions May, 2002


Managing State Records in Alabama

STATE RECORDS COMMISSION / ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY

At the center of the state government records management program is the State Records Commission, which was established in 1955 to oversee the disposition of government records in all formats created by state agencies and institutions. The State Records Commission consists of seven members, five of whom are ex officio and two of whom are appointed. The ex officio members are the director of the Department of Archives and History, who serves as the chair; the Attorney General; the Chief Examiner of Public Accounts; the Commissioner of Revenue; and the Secretary of State. The appointed members are selected from the history departments of Auburn University and the University of Alabama. The commission meets quarterly in January, April, July, and October. Staff members of the Government Records Division, Department of Archives and History (ADAH), serve as support staff for the State Records Commission and provide records management assistance to all state agencies.

ADAH RECORDS MANAGEMENT ASSISTANCE

ADAH services to state agencies include:
  • Records Disposition Authority (RDA)
    Assistance in the development of an agency Records Disposition Authority (RDA), which governs the retention and management of records created by a state agency.
  • RDA Implementation Training
    Assistance with implementing approved RDA through training workshops and on-site visits.
  • Annual RDA Implementation Monitoring Report
    Assistance in the preparation of annual agency RDA implementation monitoring reports for review by the State Records Commission.
  • Transmittal of Permanent Records
    Assistance in transferring agency permanent records to the Department of Archives and History.
  • Off-Site Records Storage
    Advice on facilities available for storage and retrieval of temporary records, including use of the State Records Center.
  • Technical Advice and Assistance
    Technical advice and assistance through on-site visits, workshops, and publications on records/information management issues (such as conservation, reformatting, access to records, disaster preparedness and recovery, and e-mail management).

BENEFITS OF A STATE GOVERNMENT RECORDS PROGRAM

  • Reduces the use of storage space and cost of records maintenance
  • Provides easier access to current and past record information
  • Reduces the exposure of state agencies to the legal, financial, and political risks associated with poor recordkeeping
  • Increases office work efficiency and productivity
  • Provides an adequate documentation system for decision-making
  • Identifies and protects permanent and vital records
  • Ensures compliance with Alabama public records laws
  • Fosters better public service and community relations

QUICK ALABAMA STATE RECORDS FACTS

  • The Department of Archives and History (ADAH) serves as the official repository for permanent records of state agencies. Some permanent records listed on the state agency’s Records Disposition Authority (RDA) are eligible to be transferred to ADAH for permanent retention. Based on the value, reference frequency, and special storage needs of records, some permanent records, as approved by the State Records Commission, will remain in the care and custody of the creating agency.
  • ADAH operates the State Records Center, which provides storage space for temporary records created by state agencies. Temporary records will be destroyed when they fulfill the retention guidelines listed on the agency RDA.
  • State agencies with an approved RDA may destroy their obsolete records without prior clearance from the State Records Commission (SRC). They are required, however, to submit to the SRC an annual RDA implementation report, which provides records destruction documentation.
  • ADAH can store microfilm of permanent state government records in its climate-controlled vault. According to the Code of Alabama 1975, Section 41-13-40, microfilm, “when duly authenticated by the custodian thereof, shall have the same force and effect at law as the original record.” It may be substituted for original records if it is an accurate copy and meets nationally accepted (ANSI/AIIM) quality standards.
  • Recent legislation (Uniform Electronic Transaction Act) provides for the use and legal recognition of electronic records, electronic signatures, and electronic contracts. It also addresses the creation and retention of electronic records, conversion of written records, and the acceptance and distribution of electronic records by government agencies.
  • Electronic mail (e-mail) is a communications tool that may record permanent or temporary information. Under state government RDAs, the retention period for e-mail records is governed not by their format but by the information they contain.

ALABAMA’S PUBLIC RECORDS LAWS

Title 36, Chapter 12 of the Code of Alabama requires public officials to create and maintain records that document the business of their office. The records must be protected from “mutilation, loss, or destruction,” so that they may be transferred to an official’s successors in office and made available to members of the public. Under Code Section 36- 12-40, “every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing in this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute.” Records must also be kept in accordance with auditing standards approved by the Examiners of Public Accounts (Code of Alabama 1975, Sections 36-12-2, 36-12-4, and 41-5-23). The authority of the State Records Commission over state government records disposition is established by the Code of Alabama, Sections 41-13-5 and 41-13-20 through 21. Under Section 41-13-21: “no state officer or agency head shall cause any state record to be destroyed or otherwise disposed of without first obtaining approval of the State Records Commission.” The Alabama Department of Archives and History may “examine into the condition of public records and ...give advice and assistance to any public official in . . . preserving, filing, and making available to the public records in his custody.” (Code of Alabama, Section 41-13- 4).

For more information, please contact:
Alabama Department of Archives and History
State Government Records Section
Post Office Box 300100
624 Washington Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36130-0100
334.242.4452 [voice] 334.240.3125 [fax]
e-mail: records@archives.state.al.us
You will find additional information on our web site at
http://www.archives.state.al.us