Beginning with Records Management
New to records management or need a refresher on procedures? No problem! This page is meant to give you an orientation to the Local Government Records Program.
- 149.31 ORC – The State Archives is charged with the evaluation and preservation of government documents. It is required to make its services available to local governments as well as arrange records transfers to other private institutions.
- 149.38-149.42 – Provides the Ohio History Connection the opportunity to select county, municipal, township, and school district records of historical value before they are disposed of.
- Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio, Rule 26 (E)(2) – Allows the Ohio History Connection to select court records of historical value before disposition.
The Local Government Records Program (LGRP) provides assistance to Ohio’s local governments concerning creating and maintaining sound records management programs while preserving records with historical value. The LGRP reviews retention schedules and disposal lists from local government, thus allowing us to select records that document governance and life in Ohio for preservation. We work with Ohio’s counties, municipalities, townships, school districts, libraries, courts, and other special taxing districts and the agencies and departments therein.
When setting retention periods, you should take the four “values” of the records into account:
- Administrative – how long does your office need these records to do your work? Consult the records creator.
- Fiscal – is the record needed for an audit? Consult your fiscal officer or the Auditor of State’s office.
- Legal – does the record document any rights or obligations? Consult your legal counsel.
- Historical – does the records contain important information about people and places? The State Archives reviews your disposition forms for this value as the reviewing agent at the historical society.
Retention periods are determined and expressed in one of three ways:
- In terms of time (e.g., "retain three years" or "retain permanently").
- In terms of an event or action (e.g., "retain until audit report is released by the Auditor of State" or "retain until case closed").
- In terms of both (e.g., "retain six months after State Auditor's audit report is released" or "retain three years after case closed").
- A retention period may be subdivided: "Retain in office five years, then retain in storage area for five more years, then destroy."
Suggested records retention periods can be found here. Before using these retention periods, they must first be submitted to the Records Commission, State Archives, and State Auditor for signature. You can also see what governments similar to yours are doing by requesting copies of their retention schedules, or asking for assistance on the Ohio Local Government listserv.
RC-1 forms are used for a One Time Disposal of Obsolete Records that are no longer created or maintained. For example, during the Civil War your government might have issued bounties to soldiers. Since your government is no longer creating these records, there is no need to include them on a retention schedule (RC-2 form). However, if you wish to dispose of these records, it will still need to be documented and the RC-1 form is the appropriate form to use. After a One-Time Disposal of Obsolete Records (RC-1) has been reviewed by the State Archives-LGRP and approved by the Auditor of State, you will no longer be required to send in an RC-3 prior to disposal.
RC-2 forms are the Retention Schedules. The RC-2 dictates how long each record series is going to be retained. Having a retention schedule enables you to destroy eligible records on an on-going basis. For schedules submitted after September 29, 2011 the State Archives-LGRP indicates on your RC-2 which records will require an RC-3. Please include a brief description for each records series on your RC-2 forms so that we may more accurately determine which records series will require a RC-3 form. RC-3 forms will only be required for records series indicated by State Archives-LGRP on your RC-2 form. We suggest that your local records commission continues to document the disposal of records series internally. We also suggest that you retain the records documenting the disposals permanently.
RC-1 and RC-2 forms are signed off first by the Records Commission, then submitted to the State Archives – once reviewed and signed by the State Archives, they are sent over to the Auditor of State’s office for review and signature. The Ohio Revised Code gives the State Archives 60 days to review and the Auditor of State’s representative has 60 days to authorize the form. Once the Auditor of the State has finished their review the forms are sent back to the State Archives where we scan the forms and return a copy to the local government via email, if one is provided, or by mail.
An RC-3 form is a Certificate of Disposal for records identified on a RC-2 form. These forms do not require the signature of the Records Commission, but your local government may require notification. The certificate of records disposal serves as the official record of the disposition of the records. Compliance to ORC Section 149.31 is required so that improper disposal does not occur. With the passage of House Bill 153 by the 129th General Assembly, if your Records Retention Schedule (RC-2) was signed by your local records commission after September 29, 2011, Certificates of Records Disposal (RC-3) forms will only be required for records series indicated by State Archives-LGRP on your RC-2 form. If the record series indicates that an RC-3 is required or if your RC-2 was signed on or before September 29, 2011, an RC-3 is required before records are destroyed. The Local Government Records Program has 15 business days to review the RC-3.
Please contact the State Archives-LGRP if you wish to dispose of a record that is more than 50 years old, even if the RC-2 does not require a RC-3. While the age of a record is not the only factor that determines historical value, in general, records that are 50 years old or older are more likely to have historical value. We suggest that your local records commission continues to document the disposal of records series internally.
Before records can be disposed using an RC-3, the State Archives and State Auditor’s Office must complete their review of the RC-2. Please wait to submit the RC-3 until you receive back the signed RC-2.All of the forms can be found here.
Suggested Retention Schedules
Your office's retention schedules should be created in accordance with the records that your office creates. The records retention periods stated in the manuals are suggested retention periods only. Your local records commission may approve other retention periods. The RC-2 is the form used to submit your retention schedule. The RC-1 and RC-3 are used for disposal requests.
Before any retention periods can be considered in effect they need to be submitted through the State Archives on a records retention schedule using the RC-2 form. The RC-2 should be signed by a local responsible official and local records commission chair, the State Archives, and the State Auditor’s Office.
Just the Basics
Suggested Retention Periods and RC Forms
Suggested retention periods for records from counties, municipalities, schools, libraries and townships. Blank RC form templates for you to download and use, as well as instructionLearn More
Local Government Records Manual
Provides an overview of records managent processes and procedures in a manual form to be a supplement to the suggested retention periods.Read Manual
A non-exhaustive list of common terms used in records management and by the Local Government Records ProgramExplore Terms
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to common local government records management questionsBrowse FAQs