The State Archives can provide a great deal of help to anyone developing records management policies. First, contact the State Archives Regional Advisory Officer in your region of the state and discuss your specific issues and ask for any sample policies. You may also contact the State Archives central office at (518) 474-6926, especially if you are an Albany-based state agency. You also might consider attending our policies workshops, which are usually given in the spring of every year.
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Starting a Program
The legal retention period for records is not determined by their format. Instead, retention depends on the function of the records and their legal, administrative, and fiscal value.
The State Archives oversees the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF), which annually awards millions of dollars for records management and archives grants to local governments across the state. For more information on the LGRMIF grants program, see the grants section. This grants program is only for local governments; the Archives does not award any grants to state agencies.
One of the most interesting challenges in records management is getting started. If your government or agency has never tackled records management before there can be a lot of work ahead of you. First, you have to start by getting preliminary control over your records. Many government agencies accomplish this by conducting records inventories, developing or implementing retention schedules, and establishing inactive storage areas. For more information, see the "Getting Started" section of the website.
There are a number of basic issues you should address whenever hiring a records management consultant, including how to choose a consultant, how write up a contract, and how to oversee a project. For detailed information on hiring consultants, see Records Management Consultants (Technical Information Series 44). The State Archives maintains lists of consultants who do various types of records management consulting.
Local governments and state agencies do not have to store their records in their own facilities. They can store their records in commercial records storage facilities, and state agencies can also store their records at the New York State Archives' records center on the State Office Campus in Albany.
Figuring how to destroy large quantities of paper records can be a difficult. One good solution is to use the services of a vendor that recycles paper. Such vendors certify the destruction of records and can make special accommodations for confidential records. Any state or local government agency in New York may now use the services of Confidata/Empire Recycling Corporation for secure and environmentally acceptable disposal and recycling of bulk quantities of obsolete paper records at no cost. The services include pick-up, secure handling and, if necessary, shredding.
Before setting up a storage area for inactive paper records, you should carefully plan for it. You need to consider how to provide security, how you will arrange shelving, and how you will locate and retrieve records from the area among other things. For more information on developing and maintaining a records center, contact the State Archives Regional Advisory Officer in your region of the state.
The State Archives provides workshops free of charge to local governments and state agencies, and others can attend if there is space available. The Archives holds these workshops across the state in three different seasons each year (spring, summer and fall), and we announce these workshops in seasonal catalogs and via our website. You can find a registration form for our current workshop offerings online. The State Archives can also present specialized workshops for individual governments, agencies or associations.