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Laws and Regulations Related to Records

Below are links to and information about New York State and federal laws, regulations, and requirements that state and local governments must follow when managing government records. These laws and regulations provide guidance on how to develop policies and procedures to ensure the effectiveness and continuity of your records management program.

Tips for Locating Citations

  • The text of laws and regulations pertaining to the State Archives are found on our website by clicking on the name of the law or regulation.
Image. Selecting a book from a shelf
  • Other laws pertaining to state or local government records can be accessed by following the links, which lead directly to the New York State Senate's website. From there, click on the appropriate law (e.g., "CVP" for Civil Practice Law and Rules) and follow the links to the desired article and section of that law.
  • Other regulations pertaining to state and local government records are available via the Department of State's New York Code, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) page. Locate a particular citation and follow the links to the appropriate title, chapter, subchapter, and part.
Local Government Records Law and Regulations

Arts and Cultural Affairs Law  

Local Government Records Law (Article 57-A) 
Consolidates former sections of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, Public Officers Law, Town Law, County Law, and Village Law into one statute promoting improved management of local government records. This is the single most important law dealing with local government records.  
 
Local Government Historian Law 
(Section 57.07, subdivision one) Clarifies the records-related responsibilities of local government historians.  
 

Regulations of the Commissioner of Education  

Part 185, 8NYCRR 
Describes how local governments meet requirements of the Local Government Records Law. The law does the following: 
  • Details the responsibilities of records management officers (RMOs) and the Local Government Records Advisory Council (LGRAC),  
  • Discusses the issuance of records retention and disposition schedules,  
  • Sets procedures for the disposition of records not listed on schedules and for records rendered unusable by disasters,  
  • Provides standards for creating and maintaining micrographic and electronic records,  
  • Provides criteria for contracted records storage facilities, and  
  • Establishes eligibility criteria for local governments applying for Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF) grants.  

Exceptions

Exceptions to Applying Retention Periods Indicated in Schedule 
This section of the Retention and Disposition Schedule for New York Local Government Records (LGS-1) details situations where records can or must be retained beyond their retention period.

Laws relating to Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF)  

State Finance Law 

Covers the management of the New York State Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund by the State Comptroller and the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance. 
 

Civil Practice Law and Rules 

Outline appropriate fees for county clerks to charge for filing, recording, and assigning index numbers to select records, including fees collected for deposit in the New York State Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund and the Cultural Education Fund. 
 
State Government Records Law and Regulations

Arts and Cultural Affairs Law

State Government Records Law (Section 57.05) 
Establishes the State Archives' responsibility for the archival records of state government. Also establishes the State Archives' authority, acting on behalf of the Commissioner of Education and with the Offices of the Attorney General and State Comptroller, over approving the destruction or other disposition of such records. State records found in local offices are also subject to this law.
 

Regulations of the Commissioner of Education

Part 188, 8NYCRR
Describes how agencies meet requirements of State Government Records Law, including:
  • Establishing requirements and procedures for the management and disposition of State agency records
  • Spelling out the duties and responsibilities of agency records management officers
  • Describing procedures for approving the disposition of agency records
  • Use of the State Records Center
  • Use of microfilm and electronic records
  • Payment of agency fees for records management services
     

State Finance Law

Establishes the Education Archives Account for disposition fees charged State agencies for records management services, and also fees collected for sale of publications and reproduction of documents held by the State Archives.
 
Retention Requirements: Statutes of Limitation

If a person or organization wants to initiate a lawsuit, they must do so within a certain period of time which varies based upon the type of complaint. Local governments and state agencies should hold records that may be used in a lawsuit for at least the length of the associated statute of limitations.

To locate the commonly cited Laws of New York:

  • Go to the Consolidated Laws of New York on the New York State Senate website
  • Search the site by selecting the "Search Open Legislation Statutes" tab - OR-
  • Browse to the appropriate law, for example Civil Practice Laws and Rules or CVP
  • Follow the links to the desired article and section of that law

The summaries below do not describe all situations covered by the referenced section of law. Unrelated matters are often grouped together by length of statute of limitations. Review the referenced section in full when considering appropriate retention requirements.

Civil Practice Laws and Rules (CPLR) 

Section 203
Extends the statute of limitations a patient has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for a missed cancer diagnosis to 7 years from date of the last treatment (per Lavern’s Law passed in 2018).

Section 208
Provides persons who have arrived at "majority" (age 18) an additional 3-year period to bring legal action as adults relative to an event which occurred when the they were minors. This statute has broad implications and requires retention of many records series long enough to protect the legal rights of minors. 

Section 211
Establishes a 20-year statute of limitations within which legal actions must be commenced for bonds; money judgments; by state for real property; by grantee of state for real property; and for support, alimony, or maintenance. 

Section 212
Establishes a 10-year statute of limitations within which legal actions must be commenced for possession necessary to recover real property, annulment of letters patent, to redeem from a mortgage, and to recover under an affidavit of support of an alien. 

Section 213
Establishes a 6-year statute of limitations within which legal actions must be commenced  where not otherwise provided on contracts; on sealed instruments; on bonds or notes, and mortgages upon real property; by state based on misappropriation of public property; based on mistake; by corporation against director, officer, or stockholder; or based on fraud. 

Section 213-A
Establishes a 4-year statute of limitations within which legal actions must be commenced for residential rent overcharge. 

Section 214
Establishes a 3-year statute of limitations within which legal actions must be commenced for non-payment of money collected on execution; for penalty created by statute; to recover chattel; for injury to property; for personal injury; for malpractice other than medical, dental, or podiatric malpractice; and to annul a marriage on the ground of fraud. 

Section 214-A
Establishes a 2 year and 6 months statute of limitations within which legal actions must be commenced for medical, dental, or podiatric malpractice. 

Section 214-C
Establishes statute of limitations of 3 years from the point of discovery within which certain legal actions must be commenced. 

Section 215
Establishes a 1-year statute of limitations within which legal actions must be commenced against sheriff, coroner, or constable; for escape of prisoner; for assault, battery, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, libel, or slander; for violation of right of privacy; for penalty given to informer; and on arbitration award. 

Section 216
Abbreviates statute of limitations to 1 year after notice for actions to recover money and property. 

Section 217
Establishes a 4-month statute of limitations for actions against the action or inaction of an administrative agency or officer and public sector labor unions for breach of the duty of fair representation.

Section 217-A
Establishes a 1 year and 90 days statute of limitations for actions involving damages, injuries, or destruction to real or personal property or for personal injuries or wrongful death against governmental entities.

Criminal Procedure Law

Section 30.10:

Section 30.10(2)(a)

Indicates that prosecution of class A felony and certain other crimes may be commenced at any time.

Section 30.10(2)(b)

Establishes that prosecution for other felonies must be commenced within 5 years of commission of the crime.

Section 30.10(2)(c)

Establishes that prosecution for misdemeanors must be commenced within 2 years of commission of the crime.

Section 30.10(2)(d)

Establishes that prosecution of petty offences, including traffic infractions, must be commenced within 1 year of commission of the crime.

Retention Requirements for Health and Safety Records

Occupational Safety

Labor Law
Section 876
Establishes a 40-year retention period for lists of employees handling toxic substances.

Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations
29 CFR 1910.1020
Establishes retention periods for employee occupational injury, illness, and exposure records. OSHA requires that employee toxic or hazardous exposure records be retained 30 years after exposure and employee occupational injury and illness logs be retained 5 years. 

Clinical/Medical Records 

Department of Mental Hygiene regulations

14 NYCRR 599.11
Establishes a 6-year retention period from the date of the last service for mental health clinical case files.

10 NYCRR 405.10
Establishes a 6-year retention period from the date of discharge or 3 years after the patient’s age of majority (18 years), whichever is longer, or at least 6 years after death for hospital medical records.

Education Law

Section 6530.32
Rules of the Board of Regents

8 NYCRR 29.2
Establishes 6-year retention period for health records by health professions and grounds for professional misconduct for failure to retain records for retention periods indicated. Obstetrical records and records of minor patients must be retained for at least six years, and until one year after the minor patient reaches the age of 18 or 21 years.

Retention Requirements for Personnel Records

Recruitment Records 

Federal regulations (29 CFR 1602.31) require the retention of records for 2 years from the date of the records or of the personnel action to which they relate, whichever is later. 

Actions under New York State’s Human Rights Law (Executive Law Article 15) alleging unlawful employment practice must commence within 3 years, while actions under federal civil rights law (42 USC 1981) must commence within 4 years (28 USC 1658)

Workers’ Compensation Records

Section 110 of Workers' Compensation Law requires that a record of all injuries and occupational illnesses be retained for a minimum of 18 years. 

Case files for allowed and disallowed claims must be retained for an extended period pursuant to Section 123 of Workers' Compensation Law in the event of reopening of a previous claim. 

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Records

Federal regulations (29 CFR 825.500) require employers to retain FMLA records for a minimum of 3 years.  

Retention Requirements for Fiscal Records

Fiscal Operations Records

(e.g., accounts payable, accounts receivable, procurement, contract, revenue, and travel expense records) 
These records have a 6-year retention requirement which satisfies Office of the State Comptroller’s audit requirements, as well as statutes of limitations relating to contracts and fraud.  

Payroll Records 

Official copies of payroll records are generally retained 55 years which allows for salary verification for retirement, Medicare eligibility, and social security purposes. 

Contractors’ certified payrolls must be retained for 5 years pursuant to Section 220 (3-a) of Labor Law.

Records of Employment Taxes

(e.g., W-2, W-4, copies of federal tax returns filed)
The federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that these records be retained at least 4 years after filing the fourth quarter for the year.

Fiscal and Other Records

Chapter 13 of the State Finance Law, known as the “False Claims Act,” allows local governments and state agencies to bring a civil action to recover financial losses from a fraudulent claim. The statute of limitations for civil actions under this law is ten years. 

Federal Grant Records

Per 2 CFR 200.334, financial records, supporting documents, statistical records, and all other non-Federal entity records pertinent to a Federal award must be retained for a period of three years from the date of submission of the final expenditure report. 

Records for real property and equipment acquired with Federal funds must be retained for 3 years after final disposition.

 

Laws and Regulations Related to Legal Admissibility of Records

Civil Practice Law and Rules 

Rule 4518
Allows the admissibility of original records in court, including electronic records, when made in the regular course of business. 

Rule 4521
Establishes the means by which public officials can indicate the lack or non-existence of a particular record. 

Rule 4539
Also called the best evidence rule. Permits the use of copies in court when those copies were prepared in the regular course of business by a process which accurately reproduces the original records and when those copies are satisfactorily identified. This use of copies is permitted whether the originals exist or not. 

Rule 4540
Establishes the means by which public officials can authenticate copies of public records. 

State Technology Law

Electronic Signatures and Records Act (Article III, Sections 301 - 309)
Ensures that electronic signatures are legally binding and clarifies the authority of government agencies to create records in electronic format. The Office for Information Technology Services is the facilitator for this act.

Internet Security and Privacy Act (Article II, Section 208)
Requires state entities, persons, and businesses in New York who own or license computerized data which includes private information to disclose any data breach to the affected New York residents (state entities must also notify non-residents) and notify the state Attorney General, Office of Information Technology Services, and the Department of State.

Laws Related to Maintaining Integrity of and Access to Records 

Penal Law 

Sections 175.20 and 175.25
Addresses the tampering of public records in the second and first degrees. Because such tampering constitutes either a class A misdemeanor or a class D felony, persons can be prosecuted and, if convicted, sentenced accordingly for these offenses. 

Public Officers Law 

Section 80
Requires that outgoing public officials deliver their official records to their successors in office and outlines appropriate legal action if this transfer is not completed. 

Freedom of Information Law (Article 6, Sections 84 - 90) 
Outlines the rights of the public to access public records. Amendments enacted in 2008 clarify issuesthat govern access to electronic records. 

Open Meetings Law (Article 7, Sections 100 - 111) 
Covers accessibility by the public to meetings of public bodies and outlines requirements for the production and availability of minutes or other proceedings. 

Personal Privacy Protection Law (Article 6-A, Sections 91 - 99) 
Applies to state agencies. Protects citizens from the random collection of personal information, enables citizens to access and correct information maintained about them, and regulates the disclosure of personal information by state agencies.

Specific Federal Laws and Regulations 

Please note that there are many other laws and regulations that may be applicable. Due to space considerations, only four of the most commonly cited laws have been listed. 

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (Public Law 104-191) 

Protects the privacy of patients' medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. This act also provides patients with access to their medical records and more control over how their personal health information is used and disclosed. For more information, refer to the Health Information Privacy page on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) 

Protects the privacy of student education records. The law requires a school district to provide parents with access to their children's educational records, to provide parents the opportunity to request the correction of records they believe to be inaccurate or misleading, and to obtain the written permission of a parent before disclosing information contained in a student's educational record. For more information, refer the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) page on the U.S. Department of Education website. 

Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection and Online Monitoring Act (USA Freedom Act) (Public Law 114-23) 

This law replaced the Patriot Act, which expired in 2015. Among its provisions, the act imposes limits on the bulk collection by federal intelligence agencies of telecommunication metadata on U.S. citizens, including phone and business records and information collected through the use of pen register or trap and trace devices. For more information, refer to Public Law 114–23—June 2, 2015

Federal Rules for Civil Procedure (FRCP) (28 U.S.C., appendix) 

Outlines the rules used to govern civil procedures in United States district courts. Several rules were amended in 2006 to clarify the process of electronic records discovery, as well as the obligations of litigating parties in discovery actions. For more information, refer to the Federal Rules for Civil Procedure, available on the Cornell Law School website.