Records Retention Schedules. Those records deemed to have permanent value are retained as archival documents. Their characteristics are described in records retention schedules. Other materials become disposable after a period of time
Disposal Certificates. Those records no longer needed are scheduled for disposal as certified through disposal certificates.
All records retention schedules and disposal certificates must be submitted for approval by the State Archivist. It is in the review of these schedules and certificates that the disposition of records is determined. Through this process, the important administrative, legal, fiscal and historical records of government are identified for permanent retention and eventual transfer to the State Archives. Other materials, when agencies no longer need them for current operations, can be destroyed.
State agencies producing the greatest number of revised and new retention schedules in 2001 included the Department of the Environment, Maryland Environment Service, and State Lottery Agency. Also showing substantial activity were the Department of Business and Economic Development, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Department of State Police. Several Anne Arundel County offices also prepared schedules, and the cities of Frederick and Taneytown developed ones to encompass most municipal operations.
Series Descriptions. The majority of series descriptions were developed for the plats.net project, specifically for Baltimore City and Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Harford, Howard, Kent and Talbot counties. Over time, descriptions for series that recur throughout the counties were standardized and improved, resulting in substantial revisions to work done in 2000. State Highway Administration records from the Department of Transportation were analyzed and reports written in preparation for a proposal to digitize State road plats and related materials.
Five-Year Survey of Government Records. In conjunction with the Records Management Division of the Department of General Services, the legally mandated five-year survey of government records was conducted. Inventory forms were placed online and could be completed and sent electronically. Based on the returns made by State agencies, the Records Management Division prepared a report on permanent records. The Archives used the information as a planning tool for the future acquisition of records.
There is a definite need for the resumption of a records management program in the State not only for the scheduling process, but also for management of paper and electronic files within agency offices. Two possible solutions come to mind. The Department of General Services could restructure its staffing to once again have a viable records management function. Or, the State Archives could assume the responsibilities, contingent upon the availability of sufficient funds. In the current fiscal atmosphere, neither event is likely to happen soon.
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