Building Your Internal Schedule for Local Governments

Per Local Government Code, 203.041 (LGC)(a.)1. local governments are required to manage an internal schedule.

Some local governments have asked, “can I get the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s (TSLAC) local retention schedules in a spreadsheet?” Now we can do you one better! All of TSLAC’s 12 local retention schedules have been uploaded into Department of Information Resources’ Open Data Portal (ODP). This means that you can now download all retention schedules that your entity adheres to into one spreadsheet that can be manipulated and customized to your heart’s content! (With the one major caveat, you must ensure you meet the state’s minimum retention requirements if you customize!) The spreadsheet also makes the schedules easier to sift through by adding filters to each column.

The one downside of the ODP is that it isn’t the most user friendly if you are not familiar with databases. Fortunately, you are familiar with TSLAC who has always got a solution for you!

Narrowing the Data

  1. Determine which of the 12 local retention schedules your entity adheres to and is permitted to legally follow. To ensure you are relying on the most accurate information, contact your TSLAC analyst for the answer to this question!

Reason: Your entity may not follow retention periods on schedules they have not yet declared compliance with.

  1. Find the local retention schedules in the ODP.
    • By using the direct link or…
    • Finding it from the ODP’s home page:
      • Click on the ‘Government & Taxes’ button.
      • On the left side of your screen, under ‘Categories’ find and click ‘Texas State Library and Archives Commission.’
      • Click on ‘Local Government Retention Schedules’ link.
      • Click on the ‘Actions’ drop down button at the top right of the screen and select ‘Query data’.

3. In the Filters section, from the ‘Select a column to filter…’ drop-down menu and select ‘Schedule.’

Screenshot of ODP filter section and 'Select a column to filter' drop down menu.

4. Change the middle filter from ‘is one of’ to ‘is.’

5. In the Search bar, type the acronym of the first schedule your entity adheres to (found in step 1).

E.g., If you determined that your entity adheres to GR: Records Common to All Local Governments, type in “GR”

Screenshot of OPD search criteria with original 'is one of' shown as default. The criteria is clicked to show other selections with 'is' highlighted. Also shown, is the search tool bar with "GR" typed in.

6. If you adopted more than one schedule, click the ‘AND+’ button and change to ‘OR.’

Reason: ‘OR’ means you are searching for series on one schedule or another. ‘AND’ would mean you are searching for series that can be found on multiple schedules, which is not possible.

Screenshot of ODP's page with the original default of '+AND' selected and list clicked to show the 'OR' option.

7. Repeat steps 3-6 for each schedule that you have adhere to.

E.g., if your entity follows schedule GR, EL: Records of Election and Voter Registration, and PS: Records of Public Safety Agencies, the filter section would appear as so…

Screenshot of the ODP filter section with Schedule is GR, or Schedule is EL, or Schedule is PS entered into the filters. The 'Apply' button has been selected.

8. After you have added all schedules (from step 1), click ‘Apply.’

NOTE: If you make a mistake, you can remove a filter by clicking the X button next to the filter that you created.

Exporting the Data

9. Click on the Export button in the top right corner.

10. Click the Download button next to the Cancel button.

Screenshot of the ODP page with the Download button selected. The 'Download' button next to the 'Cancel' button has been circled.

10. Open a blank spreadsheet. Do not open the Excel doc that downloaded for this step. It is not what we need!

12. Import the data into your spreadsheet by importing the downloaded CSV file.

E.g., If you are using the newest version of Excel, go to the ‘Data’ tab, click the ‘From Text/CSV’ button, go to your downloads, and click on the downloaded Excel. On the prompt screen, click ‘Transform Data.’ In the ‘Transform’ section, click the ‘Use First Rows as Headers’ button. Click the ‘Close and Load’ button in the top right corner.

Congratulations! You now have all series from the local retention schedules your entity adheres to in one spreadsheet!

Using the Data

The most critical thing to remember is that the local governments’ schedules are the minimum requirements. This means the retention periods can be increased to keep records longer, but absolutely never shorter!

Here are some of TSLAC’s current resources for customizing internal local retention schedules:

We encourage you to look beyond TSLAC’s resources for customization tips! Since these resources extend to state agencies, the private sector, and out of state local governments, we want to reinstate the caveat: Any takeaways you get from non-TSLAC resources must be vetted to ensure that your entity is meeting TSLAC’s minimum retention requirements for Texas local governments.

  • Reach out to other entities for their tips! Although state agencies are stemming off a different TSLAC schedule, most of them have been customizing their internal schedules for years!
  • ARMA International and the local chapters host webinars over the topic. ARMA includes members from the private and public sector.

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