Managing Records: Records Retention & Disposition

Records Retention and Disposition Schedule MU-1
First issued in 1988; revised 2003

Changes in Retention

You can view the complete version of this publication

The MU-1 Records Retention and Disposition Schedule indicates the minimum length of time that officials of Cities, Towns, Villages and Fire Districts must retain their records before they may be disposed of legally. This Schedule does not cover retention periods for records of New York City offices and boroughs. Before records disposition takes place, this Schedule must be formally adopted by resolution of the governing body. The State Archives has prepared and issued this Schedule in accordance with state law and regulation.

The purposes of this Schedule are to:

(1) ensure that records are retained as long as needed for administrative, legal and fiscal purposes;

(2) ensure that state and federal record retention requirements are met;

(3) ensure that record series with enduring historical and other research value are identified and retained permanently; and

(4) encourage and facilitate the systematic disposal of unneeded records.

The main points of the Schedule are:

  • No records may be disposed of unless they are listed on this Schedule, or their disposition is covered by other state laws.
  • Retention periods on this Schedule apply to one "official" copy designated by the local government, unless otherwise stated.
  • The retention periods listed in this Schedule pertain to the information contained in records, regardless of physical form or characteristic (paper, microfilm, computer disk or tape, or other medium).
  • Items on this Schedule preceded by a single diamond symbol (*) were either new to the 2000 edition or substantively changed from the previous (1993) edition. Items preceded by a double diamond symbol (**) are either new to this 2003 edition or substantively changed from the 2000 edition.
  • For any record not listed, the Records Management Officer, or the custodian of the record, should contact the Archives to determine if it is indeed covered by this Schedule and if a legal minimum retention period has been established. If not, the Archives will consult with appropriate state and local officials and users of local government records and advise the local government on the disposition of the records.
  • Records being used in legal actions must be retained for one year after the legal action ends, or until their scheduled retention period has passed, whichever is longer.
  • Records being kept beyond the established retention periods for audit and other purposes at the request of state or federal agencies must be retained until the local government receives the audit report, or the need is satisfied.
  • Certain records may need to be retained for one year longer than Schedule MU-1 dictates if those records are subject to the requirements stated in Section 29.2 of 8NYCRR for health professionals, other than physicians, employed by or associated with local governments.
  • Records created before 1910 (even those which have been microfilmed) are not eligible for disposition without written permission from the State Archives.
  • The Archives cannot identify all record series with historical significance for individual local governments. Local officials will need to appraise records with nonpermanent retention periods for potential research or historical value before destroying them. A local government record has historical or other research importance if it provides significant evidence of how the government functions and/or if it provides significant information about people, places or events that involve the government.
  • Records common to most offices are listed under the General section of the Schedule. One should first attempt to locate a specific item under a functional heading. If the record you are locating cannot be found under a functional heading, then proceed to this General section to search for a less specific item covering the record.
  • The Local Government Records Law and Schedule MU-1 do not address confidentiality of records. Confidentiality of records is often dependent upon what information they contain. Local officials should address such questions to the Committee on Open Government, their own counsels, or other state or federal agency having oversight of the records in question.

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