Final Disposition

Updated June 1998

Contents

Introduction

Records Destruction

Statutory Responsibility
Destruction Authorization
Retention Schedule Approval
Disposal Without Approved Schedule
Security Considerations
Destruction Methods

Shredding
General Disposal
Reuse of Magnetic Media
Completion of the Records Life Cycle

Archival Appraisal

Costs and Consequences
Statutory Requirements
Analysis of Records for Archival Value

Archival Value
Evidentiary Value
Information Value

Analysis of Agency
Resources for Archival Analysis
Archival Records Series

Descriptions of Archival Records Series
Personal Papers
General Considerations

Transfer of Archival Records

Archival Assistant

Final Disposition Documentation

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Introduction

Records disposition refers to any action taken regarding a record after it is created or received by an agency. Transfer to an inactive storage facility, such as the records center maintained by the State and Local Records Management Division, is an example of one type of records disposition. While records are stored off-site, they continue to be owned by the agency that transferred them to storage and any actions regarding the records must be approved by the agency. The term final disposition is used to describe the final treatment of the record, which will be either archival preservation or destruction.

Most records created or received by a state agency have a limited period of time when they have value to state government for administrative, fiscal, or legal purposes. A legally authorized process for destroying obsolete information has been provided in order to control the growth and cost of government records. In addition to those records that decline in usefulness as time passes, there is a relatively small percentage but very important group of records that justify preservation because of their enduring value for historical and research purposes. The identification of records having archival value requires the cooperative efforts of the custodians of the records and the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Upon transfer of records to the Archives and Information Services Division, the legal title of the records transfers to the Texas State Library.

The appropriate retention period for each type of record-each records series-maintained by a state agency is determined during the records inventory and scheduling process (see Part II, Texas State Records Management Manual, "Records Scheduling"). The records are also appraised for archival value during the records inventory and marked with an archival code on the retention schedule, if appropriate. Records that do not have archival value should be destroyed, when eligible according to the retention schedule, to avoid the unnecessary maintenance of records for excessive periods of time or the arbitrary disposal of records without regard for their value.

The requirements for destruction of non-archival records will be reviewed in the initial section of this part of the Texas State Records Management Manual and the process of archival appraisal will then be explained.

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Records Destruction

All record series must be examined for their historical value, but those clearly without archival value will be the bulk of an agency's output. State records that have been appraised and do not have archival value should be destroyed when they have fulfilled their approved agency retention period. If records are stored at the State Records Center, the agency will be notified periodically when the records are eligible for final disposition an will be processed in compliance with the agency records retention schedule. Records maintained within agency offices or in an agency storage area that are eligible for destruction should be disposed of as part of the routine business process of the agency.

Regardless of where agency records are stored and maintained, the decision to destroy records must take into account the following:

  • Statutory responsibility.
  • Destruction authorization.
  • Security considerations.
  • Destruction methods.

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Statutory Responsibility

All state agencies are required to request authority before destroying state records. The process for the legal destruction of state records is outlined in the Texas Government Code, Chapter 441.

§441.187. Destruction of Records.

(a) A state record may be destroyed by a state agency if:

(1) the record appears on a records retention schedule approved under Section 441.185 and the record's retention period has expired;

(2) a records destruction request is submitted to the state records administrator and approved by the director and librarian, or the designee of the director and librarian, for a state record that does not appear on the approved records retention schedule of the agency; or

(3) the record is exempted from the need to be listed on a records destruction request under rules adopted by the commission.

(b) A state record may not be destroyed if any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit, open records request, administrative review, or other action involving the record is initiated before the expiration of a retention record set by the commission or in the approved records retention schedule of the agency until the completion of the action and the resolution of all issues that arise from the action, or until the expiration of the retention period, whichever is later.

(c) The director and librarian may destroy any state record in the physical custody of the commission under Section 441.182 whose minimum retention requirements have expired without the consent of the agency head if, in the opinion of the director and librarian and either the attorney general or the state auditor, there is no justification under this subchapter or other state law for the record's further retention.

(d) A state record may be destroyed before the expiration of its retention period on the approved records retention schedule of the state agency that has custody of the record only with the special consent of the director and librarian and, if the record possesses fiscal or financial value, with the concurrent consent of the state auditor.

(e) The commission may adopt rules prescribing the permissible means by which state records may be destroyed.

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Destruction Authorization

Two methods have been established by the Texas State Library for obtaining legal authority to destroy state records:

1) The perpetual destruction of records based on an agency's approved "Records Retention Schedule" (Form SLR 105) accompanied by a signed "Certification and Approval" (Form SLR 105C), or

(2) The submission and approval of a "Request for Authority to Dispose of State Records" (Form RMD 102) each time unscheduled records become eligible for final disposition.

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Retention Schedule Approval

Perpetual authority for destruction of state records is established by approval of the agency records retention schedule (see part II, Texas State Records Management Manual, "Records Scheduling" for a discussion of the retention scheduling process). The signatures of the agency head or records management officer, the state auditor, and director and librarian that appear on the approved schedule are proof of the authority required by Texas Government Code §441.187.

The State and Local Records Management Division will forward a copy of the certified records retention schedule to the records management officer. At that time, the agency may begin disposing of records as they become due for final disposition according to the approved schedule.

The State Auditor's Office and the Texas State Library will have approved the retention periods, making it unnecessary for the agency to submit any further requests for authority to dispose of records listed on the retention schedule. If a records series has an archival code marked on the retention schedule, the records must be transferred to or reviewed by the Archives and Information Services Division instead of being destroyed.

Because an approved retention schedule not only places state agencies in compliance with the law but also grants perpetual authority for records destruction, the agency realizes significant benefits from this disposal authorization process:

  • Reduction of paperwork for agency staff-The records retention schedule is submitted for approval once only, then periodically recertified to make additions or changes. This alleviates the need to submit RMD 102 forms each time a records series becomes eligible for disposal.
  • Increased security-The retention schedule is reviewed and recertified on a regular basis, so the chance for error or omission is reduced.
  • Improved audit trail-Records management decisions are approved prior to disposal activities (transfer to storage, conversion to alternative records media, transfer to the Archives and Information Services Division for historical preservation, destruction of obsolete records, etc.); therefore, records can be controlled more consistently by routine business practices in compliance with the authorized recordkeeping requirements.
  • Reduced waiting time for destruction-Approval has already been obtained; final disposition can proceed as scheduled.

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Disposal Without Approved Schedule

In the absence of an approved retention schedule or when a records series does not appear on the agency retention schedule, the records management officer or agency head must receive approval for final disposition on a "Request for Authority to Dispose of State Records" (Form RMD 102) prior to destroying records. During the approval process for the RMD 102, the records listed will be reviewed by staff of the Archives and Information Services Division to determine if any of the unscheduled records should have archival preservation.

The steps for processing the RMD 102 are as follows:

1) When unscheduled records have no further legal, fiscal, administrative or historical use to the agency, the records management officer should first identify whether the records have met any established minimum retention requirements adopted in the Texas State Records Retention Schedule (13 TAC §6.10). If the records are not listed in the state schedule, the appropriate retention period will need to be determined by the records management officer in consultation with agency staff.

Upon verification that retention requirements have been met, the records management officer is responsible for requesting the final disposition of unscheduled records by submitting a RMD 102. Copies of the RMD 102 with instructions and the state schedule of minimum retention periods may be requested from the State and Local Records Management Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, PO Box 12927, Austin, Texas 78711-2927, or by calling 512-421-7200.

2) Approval of the disposal request must be verified by the signature of the records management officer or agency head (field 12 of the RMD 102). The form may be routed to other staff within the agency who may also sign or initial the RMD 102, if specified by internal agency procedures.

3) The original RMD 102 and two copies, all with original signatures, must be submitted to the State and Local Records Management Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, PO Box 12927, Austin, Texas 78711-2927.

4) The form is reviewed by staff of the State and Local Records Management Division and forwarded to the Archives and Information Services Division to identify any records having archival value. Signatures of the director and librarian and the State Auditor's Office, as required, provide authorization for the final disposition of the records.

5) When the RMD 102 is approved, one copy is returned to the originating agency, one copy is sent to the State Auditor's Office (as needed for fiscal records that do not meet the minimum retention requirement), and the original form is retained by the State and Local Records Management Division.

6) The approval process usually takes two to three weeks. Records must not be destroyed until an approved copy of the RMD 102 has been returned to the records management officer. Any records marked as archival on the disposal request must be retained by the agency until staff of the Archives and Information Services Division can contact the records management officer to schedule the transfer of the records for historical preservation.

The RMD 102 is used to request authorization for final disposition of records only until such time as the agency has a certified records retention schedule, which lists the records series and the approved retention periods.

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Security Considerations

The most important factor affecting the selection of an appropriate type of destruction is the security status of the records, i.e., whether records are open or confidential. The security of information is very important in state government since agencies are responsible to the public trust. Final disposition of state records must ensure that records are disposed of in a manner that ensures protection for any sensitive or confidential information (see Records Retention Schedule Rules, 13 TAC §6.8).

To evaluate the security status of records, the agency's records management officer and legal staff should be consulted, as well as the Texas Public Information Handbook (copies of the handbook may be requested from the Office of the Attorney General, 512-453-2100).

Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code, generally referred to as the Open Records Act, implements the policy "that each person is entitled, unless otherwise provided by law, at all times to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees." A state record is considered to be "open" to the public unless it is information excepted from required disclosure by provisions of Chapter 552.

The Open Records Act principally impacts records management in three ways:

1) It is the legal basis for determining the security status of records, whether open or confidential. This security status determines access requirements for records.

2) It sets requirements limiting the distribution of confidential information thereby establishing restrictions on how governmental information may be destroyed. These restrictions apply to all information considered confidential under the terms of Chapter 552; therefore, the destruction process must protect confidential information for both original records and copies.

3) Since it is more expensive in terms of staff time and equipment to use methods of destruction that will protect confidential information, the provisions of the Open Records Act affect records management costs as well.

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Destruction Methods

In addition to the level of security required, consider the following to determine which method or combination of methods is appropriate for your agency's needs:

  • The volume of records that will be destroyed on a regular basis.
  • The physical nature of the records (computer printouts, microfilm, bound material, etc.).
  • The space available for destruction equipment and for records awaiting disposal.
  • Staff time required for various methods. This includes the time needed to prepare material for destruction, transport records, operate machinery, complete destruction forms, etc.
  • The price and quality of necessary equipment.
  • The cost and availability of services.

Also consider any characteristics of your agency's operation which may affect records activity, such as proposed consolidation with another agency or projected expansion.

The most common methods of records destruction are:

1) Shredding-must be used for confidential records and may be appropriate for other records in particular circumstances; included in this category are disintegration and pulping.

2) General deposit-may be used for nonconfidential records of all types; includes routine trash removal and bulk disposal for recycling.

3) Reuse of magnetic media-used for computer magnetic tapes, video and audio tapes, and other rewritable media; may include recording new data over prior data or magnetic erasure of data.

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Shredding

There are many types of shredders available.

If high security is a concern, consider straight-cut or cross-cut machines.

Straight-cut models render paper into ribbon-like strips that can range from 1/2" to 1/32" wide. A shred width of 1/2" is adequate for the destruction of most records, especially if volume shredding is done. The narrower the shred, the lower the machine's capacity and speed.

Crosscut machines reduce paper to short, narrow strips, making reconstruction of documents impossible. These shredders are designed to meet federal specifications for the destruction of confidential, secret and cryptographic materials.

Although they are not technically shredding machinery, disintegrators and pulpers are included in the shredder category. Usually paper document destruction to this degree is not necessary. The machines are also quite a bit slower than conventional shredders because of the increased degree of destruction involved.

Disintegrators chop materials into confetti by passing them repeatedly through cutters. A retaining drum with a screen holds the particles until they are reduced to a size small enough to pass through the screen. Disintegration is especially appropriate for destruction of confidential information on microfilm. It also can be used for destroying confidential records on magnetic media that is not suitable for erasure and reuse.

Pulpers use a grinder mechanism to reduce dampened paper to pulp. Then excess water is pressed from the pulp and discharged through a drain.

Some factors to consider when choosing a shredder:

  • Particle size range.
  • Capacity.
  • Rate of output.
  • Machine's rating for continuous operation.
  • Size.
  • Noise level.
  • Availability of replacement parts.
  • Reliability of service by vendor.
  • Capacity of machine to accept various materials.

Be sure the shredder is designed to shred whatever objects are to be fed into it. Running inappropriate material through a shredder (for example, putting bound documents through a shredder designed for paper only) could result in equipment failure or malfunction, which can be expensive and possibly dangerous. In addition to sheet paper, many machines shred cards, cardboard, booklets, offset plates, clips, binders and staples.

Some shredders accept microfilm, microfiche, and magnetic media. When shredding microforms containing confidential information, you must ensure that the film is shredded to a size small enough to render the pieces unreadable.

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General Disposal

The general disposal method refers to disposing of intact records by general trash collection or bulk recycling. This method may be used for all records except confidential information, which must be shredded. General disposal may be permissible for microfilm or magnetic media that have nonconfidential information but there are environmental advantages to shredding or disintegrating these media that should also be considered by agencies.

Agencies are encouraged to participate in recycling programs, as available. In addition to being a sound environmental option, recycling of paper records may also generate revenue. Often vendors will buy paper records by weight and grade of paper, shredded or in bulk.

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Reuse of Magnetic Media

When information stored on magnetic tape, audio or video tape, or other rewritable media has fulfilled the retention period designated by the agency records retention schedule, it may be possible to destroy the data while reusing the media. For example, degaussing is a method of electromagnetic erasure of data that is appropriate for clearing confidential information from magnetic media so new data can be recorded. Another possibility is to reformat the media before reuse. Magnetic media that store public information may be reused by recording over the previous information.

NOTE: If an agency does not have an approved retention schedule that lists electronic records to be destroyed on magnetic media, a "Request for Authority to Dispose of State Records" (Form RMD 102) must be approved prior to erasing magnetic media or using it to record new information.

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Completion of the Records Life Cycle

Effective records destruction procedures aid your over-all records management program by completing the life cycle for records that have become obsolete and do not have archival value. Every state agency must maintain a program that efficiently controls records from creation to ultimate disposition.

For some records, however, destruction is not appropriate because there is an ongoing need for the information as historic documentation. The ultimate disposition for these records is archival preservation and they are identified by an appraisal process described in the remainder of this part of the manual. If an agency has an approved records retention schedule, records with archival value will be marked on the schedule. For unscheduled records, approval of final disposition must be obtained by submitting a list of the records on a RMD 102. This process includes a review of the records for archival value.

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Archival Appraisal

The Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library appraises, accessions, arranges and describes, provides reference service on, and preserves state records and other materials of enduring value to Texas and its citizens.

Although "agency" and "state agency" are used throughout this discussion for ease of presentation, the scope of the Archives and Information Services Division's responsibilities for state records extends to those created, maintained, and/or received by all three branches of state government-executive, legislative, and judicial.

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Costs and Consequences

Once records become archives and they are accessioned into the holdings of the Archives and Information Services Division, new obligations arise. It is not enough simply to store the archives. The following must also be taken into consideration:

  • The environments of the storage areas must be appropriate for the different media of the records.
  • The records must be secured from theft, fire, misuse and accident.
  • In some cases records must undergo conservation treatments to increase their expected longevity.
  • The records must be made accessible for future users through individualized arrangement and description techniques tailored to each particular series.
  • Users must be assisted in their searches.

The decision to declare a record series archival is a costly one and should be made with care. If records are accessioned into the Archives and Information Services Division and later reappraised and found to be disposable, resources have been wasted on their administration, storage and maintenance. If, on the other hand, a mistake is made which leads to the destruction of important historical materials, no amount of resources can rectify this action.

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Statutory Requirements

All branches of government at all levels must create certain records to serve as historical documentation of their activities. To identify and maintain these records as part of the archives of the state is the statutory duty of the Texas State Library (Texas Government Code, §441.181). Records with historical value become "archives" when their period of required use by the originating agency is over. Upon transfer of records to the Archives and Information Services Division, the legal title transfers to the Texas State Library and the agency's responsibility for them is completed.

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Analysis of Records for Archival Value

As part of an agency's records inventory each records series is assigned one or more of these values: administrative, fiscal, and legal. These three values are straight-forward and of internal interest to an agency. Retention periods based on them should meet the needs and responsibilities of the agency. A fourth value variously called historical, archival, permanent, research, or enduring has broader scope and implications.

All records retention schedules must take this value into account. In so doing, it is necessary to look beyond the needs of the agency and to the needs of the future.

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Archival Value

Records are considered archival for two reasons:

1) They provide evidence of agency functions, and/or

2) They contain information that is of enduring value.

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Evidentiary Value

Each government entity is ultimately responsible to the citizens of the state to carry out the functions with which it has been charged. Records with evidentiary value document the fulfillment of the agency's obligations. Records created specifically to serve as evidence are relatively easy to identify; minutes, policy manuals, and executive directives are a few examples. Other records provide evidence but were not created for that purpose and are a little harder to recognize. For instance, press releases, correspondence, and internal memoranda often have permanent value, but may be interfiled with materials of a more transitory nature.

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Information Value

State agencies also create or gather information. This information may have enduring value in and of itself. It may be used again for a related study or applied in an entirely new way. The Archives and Information Services Division must collect and maintain this data as well in order to fulfill its function to provide historical materials for the study of Texas and Texans. Identifying records that contain historic information of permanent value can be difficult.

The answers to three classes of questions regarding the agency's information determine if it has long-term value:

1) Is the information unique? Can it be found elsewhere? For instance, did the agency create or gather the information or is some of it duplicated and transcribed from another source? (And, what is the source?) Has the information been published by the agency or others? (Under what title?) Has the information been duplicated and filed with another agency? (What agency?)

2) In what form is the information? Is the information valid and useful? Is this raw data or has it been analyzed? Has any information been removed or concentrated? In general, information in its most summarized and condensed form is preferred over raw data unless the potential for the reuse of the raw data is high. Is the information arranged appropriately for further uses? Is the data readable?

NOTE: The Texas State Library lacks the resources to maintain permanent records in electronic form. If a series of electronic records is permanent, it must be printed on alkaline paper or microfilmed before transfer to the Archives and Information Services Division. If it is not possible or feasible for an agency to output an electronic record to paper or film, the agency must maintain the records and the hardware and software needed to access the records as well as migrate the records to new hardware and software environments to provide continued access in the future.

3) How important is the information? Will researchers now or in the future need to consult the information?

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Analysis of Agency

When the Archives and Information Services Division analyzes an agency's records retention schedule, it looks at the agency as a unique entity. Each agency has a different function and a singular pattern of information flow that may or may not coincide with the distribution of authority within the agency.

  • In one agency the generation of revenue is a primary function while other agencies spend it.
  • Where some agencies maintain central files others have distributed filing systems.
  • In some agencies the oversight commission is actively involved in everyday business; in others the commission traditionally reviews and votes on executive recommendations.

When analyzing an agency's records, the Archives and Information Services Division also takes into consideration the agency's place among other state agencies and its relationship to the federal government and local governments.

Here too, patterns of information flow are studied. Because a particular record series of one agency is of historical value, a record series of another agency may be expendable. It is necessary to know which agency has the most complete, the most usable, and the most physically stable record series so that only the best record is declared archival, thereby justifying the permanent financial commitment of state resources.

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Resources for Archival Analysis

As a foundation for understanding an agency and its records, archivists of the Archives and Information Services Division will consult the following documentation, which may require agency assistance to access.

Laws - to understand the specific mandate and operating environment of the agency. An agency compilation of state and federal laws and rules and regulations is of great assistance. Any laws specific to the agency that deal with records retention requirements and identification of confidential records should be especially noted.

Organization charts - to understand how staff and functions are organized to accomplish the work of the agency. Detailed organization charts and narrative descriptions of the distribution of functions and authority throughout the agency will generally have to be procured from the agency.

Strategic plans - to understand how the agency views itself and its future priorities.

Biennial reports - to understand past accomplishment of agency's functions. Especially significant are major functional changes.

Records retention schedule - to understand the value the agency places on its records. Particular note will be made of records designated "A" for archival and "R" for archival review.

Records inventory worksheets - to understand information flow; identify the record copy, reference and accumulation rates; and determine the extent to which information has been summarized and published.

Laws, organization charts, biennial reports, and strategic plans of other agencies sharing or performing similar functions - materials that may be reviewed when it appears likely that two or more agencies' records will benefit from simultaneous archival appraisal because of the similarity of their functions.

Agency expertise - the Archives and Information Services Division may call on subject experts within or outside of the agency for advice on retaining or discarding a particular series of records.

The Archives and Information Services Division will also review its holdings from the agency and predecessor, if applicable, or related agencies.

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Archival Records Series

Beyond the axiom that records of enduring value are most frequently generated at the executive level in a state agency by those officers who deal with policy and procedure issues as opposed to those who are concerned with staff services, no generalizations about where to look for historical records can be made.

Every agency delegates authority, records decisions, and reports activities in its own way. In order to make the search for archival record series more manageable, however, the Archives and Information Services Division has prepared generic descriptions of records it has most frequently found to be of archival value.

These descriptions apply only to currently created and well-managed records series. Old, forgotten records discovered during an inventory or general housekeeping activities may have unique values that can only be evaluated on a case by case basis. These descriptions also apply only to record copies and not to convenience or reference copies. Convenience or reference copies are not records, can be destroyed at the agency's discretion, and must not be retained any longer than the approved retention period for the record. However, care must be taken to correctly identify convenience copies as opposed to record copies.

It is quite possible for exactly the same record to exist in two or more places and be the record copy in each place. The test for record copy is if the document serves a different function in each of its sites. For example, a letter received by the governor's office may require responses from two different agencies; the copy the governor's office sends to each agency is a record copy for each of those agencies. If it is not possible to verify whether files are the record copy or an exact duplicate used only for convenience of reference, treat the files as records.

Copies of records of the same type as described in the following list but maintained in another records series have the retention period of that records series. For instance, a copy of the narrative portion of the agency's biennial budget request kept in the author's personnel file as evidence for performance appraisal carries the retention period of the personnel file.

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Descriptions of Archival Record Series

Biennial Appropriation Requests - archival requirement is met by sending to the Texas State Publications Depositor Program of the Texas State Library the required copies of the published appropriations request and all supporting documentation submitted to the Legislative Budget Board.

Correspondence - Administrative - incoming/outgoing and internal correspondence in any format pertaining to the formulation, planning, implementation, interpretation, modification, or redefinition of the programs, services, or projects of an agency and the administrative regulations, policies, and procedures that govern them. Administrative Correspondence is contrasted with General Correspondence in that it excludes routine matters, general inquiries, and requests for materials.

It is unlikely that Administrative Correspondence from organizational levels below that of the executive will be appraised as archival. If the agency's important programs are not documented in correspondence maintained at the executive level, however, similar records created at lower levels must be designated for archival retention.

Executive Orders - any document that initiates rescinds, or amends a regulation, policy, or procedure that governs the programs, services, or projects of an agency. Executive Orders are contrasted with Directives that are routinely issued regarding general administrative and office procedures.

Legal Opinions and Advice - files that typically contain memoranda prepared by the agency's legal counsel or the Attorney General concerning interpretations of existing laws and regulations or the effects of proposed laws and regulations that govern the agency or which have a direct effect on its operations. Included are formal comments on pending legislation prepared at the request of the Legislature, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Budget Board, the Governor's Office or others.

Meeting Agenda, Minutes and Supporting Documentation - the official agenda, minutes, and supporting documents of state boards, committees, commissions, etc., that are conducting open meetings as required by Texas Government Code, Chapter 551 are permanent records of the agency.

Copies of the agenda, minutes, and supporting documents are transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division to meet archival requirements. Minutes may be literal transcriptions or edited summaries. Audio tapes of meetings are generally not acceptable for archival preservation of the official minutes. Records selected for permanent retention to document inter-agency meetings will be limited to the records of the agency designated as the group's secretariat. Minutes of staff meetings are not archival records.

News or Press Releases - news or press releases issued by the agency announcing high-level appointments, new programs or functions affecting Texans, and the termination of agency programs. Records may be textual, such as a formal press release, or nontextual, such as film or video or sound recordings.

Organization/Reorganization Records - organization charts that provide a detailed description of the arrangement and administrative structure of the functional units of an agency; reorganization studies conducted to design an efficient organizational framework most suited to carrying out the agency's programs including materials such as final recommendations, proposals, and staff evaluations; and formally prepared descriptions of the responsibilities assigned to the senior executive officers of an agency at the division level and above. Files may also contain administrative maps that show regional boundaries and headquarters of decentralized agencies or that show the geographic extent or limits of an agency's programs and projects.

Plans and Planning Records - records relating to the plans of new or redefined programs, services or projects of an agency that are not included in or directly related to other records series. Planning records can be found in many records series. Their archival appraisal generally follows the series with which they are filed. Planning records existing as an independent series on high administrative levels relating to the administration of agency programs are archival.

Policies and Procedures - manuals, guidelines, administrative rules, or similar records distributed internally for the use of employees or externally to the public or those individuals or entities regulated by an agency that sets out the significant rules, policies, and procedures that govern an agency's major programs, services, or projects. Procedure manuals or statements regarding internal operations of common functions (for example, grievance procedures, print requests, travel guidelines and similar support services) are not archival.

Publication Development Files - successive and substantive drafts of major publications. Whether a publication is archival is determined by both the publication's authorship and its impact on Texas and Texans. Publication files of archival value include original artwork, photo prints, and negatives that have significant value as evidence of agency programs as well as potential for reuse.

Reports and Studies (Nonfiscal) - annual, subannual, special reports or studies on nonfiscal aspects of an agency's programs, services, or projects compiled by agency personnel, advisory committees, or consultants. Includes reports distributed either internally or to other entities. Reports are archival when they deal with significant aspects of the agency's programs. Complete sets of studies prepared by oversight agencies are usually designated the record copy at the oversight agency.

Reports-Biennial or Annual Agency (Nonfiscal) - biennial reports to the governor and legislature as required by an agency's enabling statutes, including annual reports if they are required by statute. Archival responsibility is fulfilled when the required copies of this document are sent to the Texas State Publications Depository Program, Texas State Library.

Speeches and Papers - notes or text of speeches, papers, or reports delivered in conjunction with agency work. Records in this series are archival when they are remarks made at formal ceremonies and during interviews by heads of agencies or their senior assistants concerning the programs of their agencies. The speeches and addresses may be presented to executives from other state agencies, representatives of federal and local governments, or private groups, such as college and university students, business associations, and cultural organizations. Interviews may be granted to radio, television, or printed news media commentators. The format selected may be original notes or text on paper, audio or video tape, or motion picture film.

Building Records - planning, design, and construction records; accepted and rejected bids; correspondence; plans and specifications including architectural and engineering drawings, profiles, and blueprints; contracts, surety bonds, and inspection records for major state buildings.

In addition to the records series described up to this point, agencies may have other types of files that should be examined for archival value based on the following three criteria:

1) the administrative level of the records,

2) the amount of evidence of agency functions they provide, and

3) the quality of the information they contain.

In files arranged by correspondent or subject, look for

  • Substantive correspondence with other state agencies, members of the legislature and its committees, the governor's office, the governor, private organizations and individuals.
  • Records concerning all substantive and distinctive programs of the agency including internal agency memoranda, narrative and statistical reports, budget estimates and justifications.
  • Records documenting the evolution of major policies and procedures created at the level of commissioners; directors; assistant directors; administrators; chairs; directors of administrations, divisions, and services within an agency; and heads of independent agencies and their chief assistants.

Files arranged by case number, person, project, hearing date, etc., may include correspondence, memoranda, periodic narrative reports, and similar materials which relate to a specific action, event, person, place, project, or other subject and provide complete documentation of an agency's activities from initiation to conclusion. Although most case files are disposable at some future date, some portion of a case file series may be selected for transfer to the Archives and Information Services Division. Those chosen normally fall under one or more of the following categories because the case:

1) established a precedent and therefore resulted in a major policy or procedural change;

2) involved extensive litigation;

3) received widespread attention from the news media;

4) was widely recognized for its uniqueness by established authorities outside the government;

5) was reviewed at length in the agency's annual/biennial report; or

6) was selected to document agency procedures rather than to capture information relating to the subject of the individual file.

Categories (1) through (5) establish the exceptional nature of a particular case file while category (6) relates to routine files chosen because they exemplify the policies and procedures of the creating agency. Scientific and technical data resulting from observations of natural events or phenomena or from controlled laboratory or field experiments. These data generally are created at project or operating levels rather than at administrative levels. The data may be recorded in either human-readable or machine-readable format and be found in laboratory notebooks, completed forms, tabulations and computations, graphs, microforms, or machine-readable files (see NOTE at end of section on "Information Value"). Scientific and technical data are selected for permanent preservation if they are unique, usable, and important. Consider the following:

  • If these data are accurate, comprehensive, and complete, if they can and are likely to be applied to a wide variety of research problems, then they can also be considered to have passed the test of usability.
  • Data that can be recreated because they document repeatable activities may also be considered both unique and usable if they constitute a definitive, critical, or standard reference data set.
  • The cost of data collection is one, but not the only, measure of its importance. In assessing the importance of any set of data, consideration should be given to its historical as well as scientific significance.

Socioeconomic micro-level data are collected for input into periodic and onetime studies and statistical reports including information filed to comply with government regulations. The information may cover such subjects as economic and tax information, health care, demographic trends, education, discrimination, and other comparable social science areas. Although agency reports and studies, briefing materials, and official releases frequently summarize these data, the micro-level information, usually in machine-readable form, may be of permanent value (see NOTE at end of section on "Information Value").

Indexes, lists, registers, and other finding aids that provide access to archival records must be transferred with the records they index.

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Personal Papers

For executive level files, it is frequently important to make a clear distinction between personal papers and state records. Usually, there are three classes of personal papers found in files:

1) papers created before entering state service;

2) private materials brought into, created, or received in the office that were not created or received in the course of transacting government business; and,

3) work-related personal papers that are not used in the transaction of government business.

The work-related personal papers are the hardest to deal with because their content is to some degree related to the conduct of government business but are asserted to be for personal use. These may be diaries, journals, notes, appointment calendars, and schedules that are used for reminders and personal observations on work-related topics, and not for use in the transaction of business (for example, see Open Records Decision No. 635 for the Texas Attorney General's conclusions concerning certain appointment calendars that are not public information subject to the Open Records Act).

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General Considerations

Always keep in mind what records document the unique functions of your agency.

The number of series selected from a given agency for permanent retention by the Archives and Information Services Division will depend on the degree of duplication evidenced by comparisons among files created at the various administrative levels. Where substantial duplication does exist, the file created at the highest level will be chosen. When the agency's important programs are not documented at these higher levels, similar records created at lower levels must be designated for permanent retention.

Whenever possible, filing systems should be organized with the records' final disposition in mind. By doing so, much time and effort can be spared when the agency retention period has been met and the records need to be transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division.

In addition, it is strongly recommended that all files be examined once a year to identify records that should be reviewed by archives staff and/or transferred for archival preservation. The Archives and Information Services Division generally prefers to receive files in yearly increments except for situations such as legislative records of representatives whose two-year terms form a manageable unit or special task forces with stated ending dates.

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Transfer of Archival Records

Pack records for transfer to the Archives and Information Services Division in archives boxes, with lift-off lids, available from the General Services Commission. These boxes are listed in the Central Store Catalog as "Box, Archival" with the dimensions of 12" x 10" x 15". When estimating the number of boxes you need, figure two boxes per letter size file drawer and two and one-half boxes per legal size file drawer. The agency purchaser can order the boxes from the Central Supply Store by calling 512-463-3205 or 512-463-3206.

Assemble the archives boxes properly to ensure the structural integrity of the box and to protect the contents. Be sure that all flaps are tucked inside. If requested, archives staff will come to your agency to instruct your staff on proper box assembly.

NOTE: These are the same boxes routinely used for storage of inactive records at the State and Local Records Management Division's records center. The use of any other size container must receive prior approval from the Archives and Information Services Division. The use of alternative storage containers is strictly limited.

Number the boxes consecutively as they are packed. Write the number on one end of the box, directly to the left of the hand-hold cutout. Begin each transfer with the number "1," unless you have informed the Archives and Information Services Division otherwise.

Leave the records in their folders. Folders must be accurately labeled. Place the folders upright in the records storage box as they would appear in a file drawer. Place letter size records in the box facing the front, numbered end. Place legal size records in the box sideways, facing the length of the box.

Keep the records in their original order, whether alphabetical, numerical, chronological, or some other arrangement scheme, when removing the records to be transferred from their filing equipment.

Do not overstuff the boxes. Leave enough space to allow easy retrieval.

Stack boxes five high only.

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Archival Assistance

No one can make a truly informed decision regarding the archival value of a single record series without taking into consideration the entirety of records produced by the concerned agency and others. There are ways to pare down the massiveness of the job, however.

A quick review of the Texas State Records Retention Schedule issued by the Texas State Library, State and Local Records Management Division, demonstrates that only a very small percentage of the general records series maintained by state agencies has been identified as appropriate for archival review and/or preservation. Although the volume of archival records varies with each agency, the most frequently cited estimate of government records having permanent value is between three and five percent of the total output.

It is the Archives and Information Services Division's hope that the creators of government records and the staff charged with records administration gain great satisfaction in knowing that once "their" records are accessioned into the archival holdings of the Texas State Library, they are available to all, in a reference room staffed specifically to provide assistance to researchers and security for the records.

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Final Disposition Documentation

The final disposition of records must be documented. There is no standard state form for this but it is recommended that a disposal log or file be maintained at the agency level that includes at least the following information:

  • Records series title.
  • Retention period.
  • Volume of records eligible for final disposition.
  • Type of final disposition (if destruction, method used).
  • Disposal date.
  • Signature(s) of agency personnel approving final disposition.

The disposal log/file should be completed for all final dispositions of records whether based on the authority of an approved retention schedule or the Form RMD 102. Maintaining documentation of records disposal complies with administrative rules for state recordkeeping (see Records Retention Schedule Rules, 13 TAC §6.8) and provides information useful in evaluating the economic benefits of the agency's records management activities.

Page last modified: September 16, 2011