Records Management:: Frequently Asked Questions

Records Management FAQs

These FAQs reflects the most up-to-date information on the Records Management program of the Office of the Secretary of State. Administrative personnel involved with the maintenance, storage, retrieval, and tracking of records will find these FAQs a convenient reference when using records management services.

We hope you will find answers to the most common questions concerning the records management program including general information, records consultation and scheduling, state records center services, and imaging services provided by the Records Management Division to state agencies.


General Information

Records Consultation and Retention Schedules

State Records Center Services

Imaging Services


Records Consultation and Retention Schedules

Q.  What type of consultation is available?
A. A team of records analysts and archivists is available to state agencies for all types of records management consultation. Our most common inquiries include assistance with records storage, formulation of records retention schedules, advice concerning document imaging systems, and other electronic recordkeeping issues. State agencies should consult the analyst or archivist assigned to their department for assistance. Agency assignments can be found on our contact page.

Q.  What kind of training is available?
  Training is provided to agency personnel concerning the use of records management services.

Q. Who is responsible for my agency’s Records Retention Schedule?
A. The Records Custodian is the person ultimately responsible for working with the Division of Records Management to create and update an agency’s Records Retention Schedule. However, this task should be shared among the legal departments, information technology departments and the agency’s administration. 

Q.  What is a Records Custodian?
 According to Missouri Revised Statutes 610.023 (1) RSMo states, “Each public governmental body is to appoint a custodian who is to be responsible for the maintenance of that body's records. The identity and location of a public governmental body's custodian is to be made available upon request.”

Q.  What is a retention schedule?
  A records retention schedule is a comprehensive list of all records created or maintained by an agency.

Q. What is a record series?
A. A record series is a group of related records that usually are used and filed as a unit. Each record series includes a description of the record, information on when the record becomes inactive, how long to retain the record and how to disposition the record once it has met its retention.

Q.  Why is a Records Retention Schedule important?
A. A Records Retention Schedule establishes proper retention periods and disposition actions for the agency’s records. Also, destruction of any state record, without approval of the State Records Commission, is prohibited by 109 RSMo.

Q.  What is the General Retention Schedule (GRS)?
  The GRS is a retention schedule that assigns the retention period to the most common types of records maintained by multiple state agencies. All state agencies should follow the GRS as well as their agency specific schedule. An agency may or may not have all the record series in their office.

The current GRS and related documents are posted on the General Retention Schedules page.

Q.  What if there is a conflict between my schedule and the GRS?
  Agencies should follow the most recent retention schedule for their records. Agency-specific schedules only supersede the GRS in cases of documented regulatory requirements. These requirements should be cited on the agency-specific schedule. Otherwise, agencies should follow the GRS.

Q.  How do I prepare a retention schedule?
  The Division of Records Management provides professional support to state agencies to assist with the preparation of agency retention schedules. The “Records Appraisal and Scheduling Standard for State Agencies” explains the concepts and process for creating a retention schedule. Agencies should contact their designated records analyst for assistance.

Q. Who is my designated records analyst?
  Records consultation is provided by Records Analysts and Electronic Records Archivists. The designated contact for each executive department is listed on the Records Management Contact page.

Q.  What records should be on my retention schedule?
  All state records must appear on either the GRS or an agency specific retention schedule. Agency specific records are those records that reflect the agency’s particular business practices, while the GRS covers the more general types of records shared by all agencies. Records in all formats should be included, such as paper files, digital images, and microfilm.

Q. What if my records are not paper?
A. Per 109.210 (5) RSMo records are any, “document, book, paper, photograph, map, sound recording or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of official business.” All records must be listed on a Records Retention Schedule.

Q.  What is the approval process for a retention schedule?
  Retention schedules undergo a series of reviews by records management staff, agency personnel, and the Missouri State Archives. The retention schedule is eventually approved by an agency director and the State Records Commission. The entire process usually takes several months.

The Division of Records Management now allows for any agency that has had their schedule approved by the State Records Commission since the adoption of the Records Appraisal and Scheduling Standard in 2005 to update their retention schedules one record series at a time. This allows agencies, who have recently updated their schedules to avoid an overhaul of their entire schedule if only a few items need to be updated.

Q. How Often should my agency’s retention schedule be updated?
A. Retention schedules should be updated whenever there is an event such as a policy change, the passage of new legislation, a structural reorganization, or if your agency has taken on new responsibilities that affect the retention, storage, or disposition of records. Schedules should also be reviewed every three to five years for general modifications.

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