Managing Records: Retention & Disposition

Requests for Early Destruction of Records

When records have been damaged by a disaster and are believed to constitute a hazard to human safety or health or to property or when the information contained within is substantially destroyed, a state agency or local government records management officer (RMO) may request authorization from the State Archives to destroy or dispose of such records immediately. For more information about this legal authority, state agencies may refer to Section 188.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education and local governments may refer to Section 185.6(b) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

To request early destruction of records, state agencies should complete and submit the usual Records Disposition Request forms. Agencies should indicate that the records have been damaged and may group multiple records series on one REC-5 form provided each series is listed.

To request early destruction of records, local governments should send an email to RECMGMT@mail.nysed.gov or a letter to Government Records Services, CEC 9A47, Albany, NY, 12230.

In order to ensure requests are processed as efficiently as possible, it is important that both state agencies and local governments provide the Archives with adequate information to evaluate the request. All requests should include the following information:

  • the nature of the disaster (e.g., flooding of nearby stream caused by tropical storm Irene, building fire, accidental sprinkler discharge, brownout of server)
  • the impact the disaster had on the records (e.g., records were soaked rendering the records illegible and moldy, records were contaminated with toxic chemicals, electronic records were no longer accessible)
  • what records were affected and are the subject of the request for early destruction. Provide a list of records along with their associated retention schedule items and retention periods.
  • whether alternate sources of the damaged records exist. For example, explain whether some of the records be reconstructed from computer records, backups, or copies that exist elsewhere.
  • justification for destruction of the damaged records. It is important to assess the risk for potential future use of these records for administrative, audit, litigation, or other legal purposes. It will be difficult to justify early destruction of vital records (i.e., those critical for carrying out your business operations) and records with long-term value, including archival records.

If you would like to see a sample request or need assistance, please contact the Archives’ Scheduling unit at RECMGMT@mail.nysed.gov or (518) 474-6926.