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GENERAL RECORDS SCHEDULE
GENERAL INFORMATION AND INSTRUCTIONS
The general records schedules established by the Department of State are intended for use by state, county, city, and special district public records custodians. If you are unsure of your organization’s status as a public agency, consult your legal counsel and/or the Florida Attorney General’s Office for a legal opinion. The Department of State publishes the following general records schedules:
State and Local Government Agencies
Law Enforcement, Correctional Facilities, and District Medical Examiners
Public Hospitals, Health Care Facilities and Medical Providers
Public Universities and Colleges
Public Schools Pre-K-12 and Adult and Career Education
Clerks of Court
All Florida public agencies are eligible to use the GS1-SL, which provides retention periods for the most common administrative records such as routine correspondence and personnel, payroll, financial and legal records. General records schedules GS2 through GS15 are applicable to program records of specific functional areas, such as elections administration, tax collecting, or law enforcement, each of which has unique program responsibilities and thus unique records retention requirements. The GS2 through GS15 should be used in conjunction with the GS1-SL to cover as many administrative and program records as possible. The General Records Schedule GS5 for Public Universities and Colleges covers records commonly created and/or maintained by public universities and colleges.
The retention periods set forth in the general records schedules are based on federal and state laws and regulations, general administrative practices, and fiscal management principles. Please note that these are minimum retention periods; public agencies may retain their records longer at their discretion. In fact, certain accreditation committees may have standards that require longer retention periods. Contact your accrediting organization for more information on their requirements. In addition, federal, state or local laws and regulations regarding recordkeeping and records retention for specific agencies or specific types of records might require a longer retention than indicated in this general schedule. Agencies should be aware of all laws and regulations relating to their records and recordkeeping requirements. However, remember that a public agency is not permitted to reduce the retention periods stated in a general records schedule.
For additional information on records retention and disposition, please refer to The Basics of Records Management handbook, which, along with all Florida general records schedules, is available on the Department of State’s Services for Records Managers website at:
To obtain an individual printed copy or electronic copy, fax your request to 850.245.6795, Attention: Receptionist; contact the Records Management Program at 850.245.6750; or email recmgt@.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
GENERAL INFORMATION AND INSTRUCTIONS i
TABLE OF CONTENTS iii
I. STATUTORY AUTHORITY iv
II. DETERMINING RETENTION REQUIREMENTS iv
III. SCHEDULING AND DISPOSITION OF PUBLIC RECORDS v
IV. ARCHIVAL VALUE vi
V. ELECTRONIC RECORDS vii
VI. FACTORS THAT MAY INFLUENCE THE DISPOSITION OF RECORDS vii
VII. RECORDS MANAGEMENT STANDARDS AND REQUIREMENTS viii
VIII. RECORDS VOLUME CONVERSION TO CUBIC FOOT MEASUREMENTS viii
RECORDS RETENTION SCHEDULES 1
ALPHABETICAL LISTING 14
NUMERICAL LISTING 16
This general records schedule is issued by the Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services, in accordance with the statutory provisions of Chapters 119 and 257, Florida Statutes.
Chapter 119, Florida Statutes, defines the terms “public records,” “custodian of public records,” and “agency,” as well as the fundamental process by which disposition of said records is authorized under law.
Chapter 257, Florida Statutes, establishes the Florida State Archives and Records Management Program under the direction of the Division of Library and Information Services, Department of State, and specifically provides for a system for the scheduling and disposition of public records. Chapter 257 also authorizes the Division to establish and coordinate standards, procedures and techniques for efficient and economical record making and keeping, and requires all agencies to appoint a Records Management Liaison Officer (RMLO).
DETERMINING RETENTION REQUIREMENTS
In determining public records retention requirements, four values must be considered to ensure that the records will fulfill their reason for creation and maintenance: administrative, legal, fiscal and historical. These four values have been evaluated in depth to determine the retention requirements of the records listed in this general records schedule.
There are two particular financial factors that may impact the retention period of an agency’s records:
Audits - Audits are the means by which independent auditors examine and express an opinion on financial statements and, as applicable, report on public agencies’ compliance with laws, regulations and internal controls. Audit requirements for state financial assistance provided by State of Florida agencies to nonstate entities are established by the Florida Single Audit Act, Section 215.97, Florida Statutes.
There are various types of audits. Performance audits examine the economy and efficiency and/or effectiveness of applicable programs, activities or functions. Financial audits include (1) an examination of financial statements in order to express an opinion on the fairness with which they present financial position, results of operations, and changes in financial position in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles; (2) an examination to determine whether operations are properly conducted in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements; and (3) an examination of any additional financial information necessary to comply with generally accepted accounting principles. As applicable, the scope of the financial audit shall include any additional auditing activities necessary to comply with the term “financial audit” as defined and used in Government Auditing Standards, as amended. Also as applicable, the scope of a financial audit shall encompass the additional activities necessary to establish compliance with the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996, Public Law 104-156 (31 USCA ss. 7501 to 7507); United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-133; and other applicable federal law.
The Records Management Program does not track or maintain information on which audits apply to which records in which agencies. Retention schedules are written to alert agencies that certain records might be required for audit purposes. Different agencies are subject to different types of audits at different times, and each agency is responsible for knowing what audits might be conducted and retaining needed records for that purpose. For instance, some agencies might be subject to the Federal Single Audit, while others are not. In general, any records relating to finances or financial transactions might be subject to audit.
Audits may be conducted by the Florida Auditor General, independent public accountants, or other state or federal auditors, as well as grant funding agencies and national or statewide professional accreditation or certification groups. Your finance office, your legal office, and the Auditor General’s Office are good sources of information as to which specific records of your agency should be retained for audit purposes.
Grants - Any public agency receiving local, state or federal grant money will need to be familiar with grantor-agency requirements.
SCHEDULING AND DISPOSITION OF PUBLIC RECORDS
The procedures for scheduling and disposition of public records, applicable to all public agencies, consist of two separate but related actions:
Establishing a Records Retention Schedule - A retention schedule describing the records and setting the minimum retention period is required for each record series. A record series, as defined in Rule 1B-24, Florida Administrative Code, is “a group of related public records arranged under a single filing arrangement or kept together as a unit (physically or intellectually) because they consist of the same form, relate to the same subject or function, result from the same activity, document a specific type of transaction, or have some other relationship arising from their creation, receipt, or use.” Examples of series that agencies might maintain are Personnel Files, Client Case Files, Project Research Files, Equipment Maintenance and Repair Records, or Procurement Files. Each record series might contain records in a variety of forms and formats that collectively document a particular program, function, or activity of the agency. The records retention schedule establishes officially the minimum length of time that the record series must be retained.
General records schedules establish retention requirements for records documenting administrative and program functions common to several or all government agencies, such as personnel, accounting, purchasing, and general administration. General records schedules can cover up to 75-80 percent of an agency’s record series. The General Records Schedule GS1-SL for State and Local Government Agencies can be used by all state and local agencies in determining their records retention requirements.
Certain agencies can use other general records schedules in conjunction with the GS1-SL. General records schedules have been established for program records of specific functional areas. For example, the GS5 for Public Universities and Colleges establishes retention requirements for program records unique to the functions and activities of those types of institutions; the GS9 for State Attorneys establishes retention requirements for program records unique to State Attorneys’ offices; and the GS12 for Property Appraisers establishes retention requirements for program records unique to Property Appraisers’ offices. Please contact the Records Management Program to verify which general records schedules are appropriate for use by your agency.
If a similar record series is listed in two general record schedules, the retention requirements contained in the program schedule shall take precedence. For instance, if a record series is listed in both the GS1-SL and the GS3, elections offices should abide by the retention requirements cited in the GS3.
REMEMBER: The retention period stated in the applicable schedule is the minimum time a record must be maintained. If two or more record series are filed together, the combined file must be retained through the longest retention period of those records.
Individual records schedules establish retention requirements for records that are unique to particular agencies. These schedules are used for the 20-25 percent of an agency’s records that are not in a general schedule. To establish an individual records schedule, an agency must submit a Request for Records Retention Schedule, Form LS5E105REff.2-09, to the Records Management Program for review and approval. This “105” form is available on the Records Management website at:
Records become eligible for disposition action once they have met the retention requirements specified in an established retention schedule and any other applicable requirements (e.g., litigation). The individual schedule remains effective until there is a change in series content or until other factors are introduced that would affect the retention period, at which time a new individual records retention schedule should be submitted for approval. If a new general records schedule is later established that requires an equal or longer retention period for the same records, that general records schedule supersedes the individual records schedule.
Final Disposition of Public Records - Section 257.36(6), Florida Statutes, states that, “A public record may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of only in accordance with retention schedules established by the division.” This means that all records, regardless of access provisions, must be scheduled before disposition can occur (see Sections 119.07-119.0714, Florida Statutes, regarding access provisions). Agencies must identify an appropriate general records schedule or individual records schedule for any records being disposed of. If a retention schedule for the records does not exist, then one must be established by following the procedures listed above for “Establishing a Records Retention Schedule.”
Records Disposition Documentation - Agencies must maintain internal documentation of records disposition including retention schedule number, retention schedule item number, records series title, inclusive dates, volume (in cubic feet) of paper records destroyed, and disposition action (manner of disposition) and date. A form titled Records Disposition Document, which is recommended for use in documenting records disposition, is available on the Records Management website at http://info.florida.gov/recordsmgmt/publications.cfm. Agencies must maintain this documentation as a permanent record, but should not submit it to the Records Management Program for review or approval.
State Agencies - The State Archives of Florida will analyze record series to identify records having enduring historic, administrative, or fiscal value that may be eligible for permanent preservation. If a record series description states, “These records may have archival value,” the state agency must contact the State Archives of Florida for archival review before disposition of the records. The RMLO or other agency representative should contact the Archives by telephone at 850.245.6750 or by email at recmgt@. The Archives will provide guidance for the transfer of the records to the State Archives or other appropriate disposition of the records. For records indicating both a Permanent retention and possible archival value, agencies should contact the State Archives after five years for archival review and guidance as to whether, when, and how to transfer the records to the Archives.
All Other Agencies - When preparing to dispose of records that have met their required retention, carefully consider the potential historical research value of those records. Some records that do not have a permanent retention still might have enduring value to your community as evidence of the interactions between government and citizens and as sources of information about local government, society, and culture. For your convenience, we have indicated that “These records may have archival value” for series that are most likely to have such historical or archival value. Not all such records will be determined to be archival; conversely, some records without this statement in the series description might have archival value. Records of historical value to your community should be preserved locally for the benefit of historians and other researchers. Technical assistance in determining archival value is available from State Archives staff at 850.245.6750.
Records retention schedules apply to records regardless of their physical format. Therefore, records created or maintained in electronic format must be retained in accordance with the minimum retention requirements presented in these schedules, whether the electronic records are the record copy or duplicates. Printouts of standard correspondence in text or word processing files are acceptable in place of the electronic files. Printouts of electronic communications (email, instant messaging, text messaging, multimedia messaging, chat messaging, social networking, or any other current or future electronic messaging technology or device) are acceptable in place of the electronic files, provided that the printed version contains all date/time stamps and routing information. However, in the event that an agency is involved in or can reasonably anticipate litigation on a particular issue, the agency must maintain in native format any and all related and legally discoverable electronic files.
FACTORS THAT MAY INFLUENCE THE DISPOSITION OF RECORDS
Litigation - When a public agency has been notified that a potential cause of action is pending or underway, that agency should immediately place a hold on disposition of any and all records related to that cause. Your agency’s legal counsel should inform your Records Management Liaison Officer when that hold can be lifted and when the records are again eligible for disposition.
Public Records Requests - According to Section 119.07(1)(h), Florida Statutes, the custodian of a public record may not dispose of a record “for a period of 30 days after the date on which a written request to inspect or copy the record was served on or otherwise made to the custodian of public records by the person seeking access to the record. If a civil action is instituted within the 30-day period to enforce the provisions of this section with respect to the requested record, the custodian of public records may not dispose of the record except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction after notice to all affected parties.”
Accreditation Standards - Some public agencies receive national or statewide accreditation or certification by professional societies, organizations, and associations. Examples may include the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and the Commission on Office Laboratory Accreditation. In an effort to enhance the professionalism of their members, these groups may place heavier burdens on public agencies than those that are mandated under state or federal law. Agencies may therefore choose to maintain their records for a longer period of time than required by established records retention schedules in order to meet accreditation standards. However, records cannot be disposed of before the minimum retention period dictated by the records retention schedules, even if the accrediting organization requires a shorter retention period.
Records in Support of Financial or Performance Audits - These records should be retained in accordance with the following guidelines provided by the Florida Office of the Auditor General:
Records must be retained for at least three fiscal years (most financial records must be retained for a minimum of five fiscal years in accordance with guidelines of the Department of Financial Services and the Office of the Auditor General). If subject to the Federal Single Audit (pursuant to 31 USC, Section 7502, and OMB Circular A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations, Subpart E) or other federal audit or reporting requirements, records must be maintained for the longer of the stated retention period or three years after the release date of the applicable Federal Single Audit or completion of other federal audit or reporting requirements. Finally, if any other audit, litigation, claim, negotiation, or other action involving the records has been started before the expiration of the retention period and the disposition of the records, the records must be retained until completion of the action and resolution of all issues which arise from it. However, in no case can such records be disposed of before the three fiscal year minimum.
Federal, state, or local laws and regulations regarding recordkeeping and records retention for specific agencies or specific types of records might require a longer retention than indicated in this general schedule. Agencies should be aware of all laws and regulations relating to their records and recordkeeping requirements.
RECORDS MANAGEMENT STANDARDS AND REQUIREMENTS
Unless otherwise prohibited by law or rule, the record copy may be reformatted to microfilm or electronic form as long as the requirements of Rule 1B-26.003 or 1B-26.0021, Florida Administrative Code, are met.
Electronic Recordkeeping is defined in Rule 1B-26.003, Florida Administrative Code, which provides standards and guidelines for creation and maintenance of record (master) copies of public records in electronic form. Public records are those as defined by Section 119.011(12), Florida Statutes.
Microfilm Standards are defined in Rule 1B-26.0021, Florida Administrative Code, which provides standards for microfilming of public records to ensure that the film, photography methods, processing, handling, and storage are in accordance with methods, procedures, and specifications designed to protect and preserve such records on microfilm.
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