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Frequently Asked Questions

 

How do I Add, Amend Or an Agency-Specific Schedule?

Agency Records Coordinators (RC) and alternates under the Governor’s jurisdiction have access to the Electronic Records Action System (ERAS) to add, amend or delete records from an Agency-Specific Schedule. Agency staff should contact their RC if they need to change their retention schedules. Independent agencies that do not use CWOPA will need to delete records using Records Action Deletions (STD-56) form (PDF) or add and amend using the Records Action Request: Addition or Amendment to Records Retention and Disposition Schedule (STD-64) form (PDF).

 

Why Do I Need To Go Through This Process For A New Retention?

Per Management Directive 210.5, all records must be scheduled and retention must be approved by the Governor's Executive Board prior to any disposition. This process results in Executive Board approval.

 

How Long Will It Take To Receive An Executive Board Resolution?

The process takes approximately 1 month. The process begins only after the forms have been submitted correctly. The correctly completed forms are reviewed by analysis and archives staff, reviewed by the Executive Board, and the Executive Board issues an approved Executive Board Resolution.

 

Can I Transfer Records To The State Records Center Once The Paperwork Is Started?

No, you cannot transfer records to the State Records Center until an approved Executive Board Resolution is issued.

 

Can I Destroy Records Once The Paperwork Is Started?

No, you cannot destroy any records until an approved Executive Board Resolution is issued. According to the Administrative code of 1929, the Executive Board must approve the disposition of Commonwealth records under the Governor’s jurisdiction.

 

Why Do I Need A a Description of records in ERAS?

The description of records is intended for records management and appraisal purposes. It provides the agency with sufficient information to identify the records and allows the Archives to know more about the records content, volume, format, etc. and for the agencies' use to determine storage needs, provide analysis on the value of the records and identify vital records.

 

If Our Agency Digitizes Paper Records, Can I Throw Away The Paper Documents That Were Scanned And Are Stored On The System?

All records must be accounted for on a Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. If it is determine that the paper no longer needs to be retained, then General Schedule item number G007.001 may be used. If using G007.001, this should be noted in the item description of the electronic system, or in ERAS. However, if long term retention or legal requirements dictate that paper should be retained, then the paper records should be scheduled separately. Note that digitized records do not automatically substitute for paper records. Digital records with a retention of ten (10) years or more must conform to the Policy Regarding Agency Long Term Records in Electronic Format (PDF) issued by the State Archives in cooperation with the state Chief Information Officer.

 

Will The State Records Center Store Security Copies Of Disks I Create As Back-Ups To My Electronic Records As They Have For Microfilm Of My Records?

No, the State Records Center does not take Electronic Records. The Commonwealth has a contract for off-site storage of backed-up media. See Information Technology Policies (ITPs) put out by the Office of Information Technology for the latest standard.

 

Has The Archives Accessioned Any Electronic Records And How Are They Made Available To The Public?

The Archives has accessioned electronic records, but at the present time, the Archives has no electronic data available for public view.

 

How Should Electronic Records Of Long-Term Value Be Cared For?

The State Archives has established PDF/A as the acceptable format for long-term electronic records. For archival records, email the State Archives. Electronic records should be migrated as systems are up-dated and records must be accessible their full retention period.

 

Are E-Mail Messages And Attachments Considered Records?

E-mail messages are evaluated on their content, not format. Therefore, they are records if they meet the definition of a record: "Information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, that documents a transaction or activity of an agency and that is created, received or retained pursuant to law or in connection with a transaction, business or activity of the agency. The term includes a document, paper, letter, map, book, tape, photograph, film or sound recording, information stored or maintained electronically, and a data-processed or image-processed document."

 

How Long Should I Retain E-Mail Messages Meeting The Definition Of A Record?

E-mail messages are not a single record series. Retention periods for e-mail messages will vary depending upon the function and content of the individual message. E-mail messages and attachment that meet the definition of records must meet the retention requirements for that type of record (record series) as listed on an approved agency-specific or general records schedule. For example, if the e-mail message constitutes correspondence relating to a specific program activity, it would be retained for the same length of time as other records in that series.

 

How Should I Retain E-Mail For The Full Retention Period?

E-mail messages and attachments that meet the definition of records may be maintained in an electronic record-keeping system. Keeping e-mail on a file share in either MSG or PDF is an option. Developing file naming conventions (PDF) will assist with searching.

 

Do You Have Suggestions Concerning Long-Term Or Permanent Preservation Of E-Mail?

If the records are of sufficient vital importance or have long-term retention (ten years or longer) or permanent value according to the retention schedule, converting email to PDF/A (PDF) is the best solution.

 

What Is The Procedure For Appointing An Agency Records Coordinator?

A letter from the Agency/Department Head appointing an agency Records Coordinator must be directed to the attention of Records Service Division, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1825 Stanley Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17103. The letter should have the name, mailing address, phone and email, and 10-digit cost code of the appointed person and any deletions of the existing Records Coordinator. The form may be scanned and emailed to email to State Records Management instead of being mailed.

 

What Is The Difference Between The State Archives And State Records Center?

In simplest terms, the State Records Center stores commonwealth agency records that must be retained temporarily, while the State Archives houses those that must be kept permanently. The State Records Center provides low cost off-site storage to state agencies for records that must be kept but which are not active enough to warrant storage in agency offices. Agencies retain legal ownership of their records while they are stored at the State Records Center. The State Archives, on the other hand, preserves any commonwealth agency record that must be kept forever because of its permanent historical, legal, or financial value (records such as William Penn’s original 1681 Charter, and the deeds to all property owned by the commonwealth, for example). Less than 5% of the commonwealth’s records are designated 'archival,' and the Archives assumes legal ownership of records transferred to it. Records may be transferred to the Archives directly from agency offices or after a temporary stay in the State Records Center. Both the State Archives and the State Records Center are managed by the Bureau of the State Archives of PHMC.

 

How Do I Know Which Records Should Be Transferred To The State Archives?

Agency-specific and general records retention and disposition schedules will identify which records are to be transferred to the State Archives and when that transfer should take place. [Disposition code 2 or an older code of 4]

 

If I Send Records to the State Archives, Will You Let People See Them?

Records in the State Archives belong to the commonwealth and are subject to the same laws that govern other state agencies. The State Archives provides public access to its records if those records are legally public. If a record is confidential in your agency office, it will remain confidential in the State Archives for as long as the law requires. As with all state agencies, the State Archives protects the personally identifiable information found in its records.

 

How Do I Send Records To The State Archives?

In accordance with approved retention and disposition schedules, records can arrive at the State Archives in one of two ways:

  1. Some records are authorized for temporary storage at the State Records Center. After the temporary storage period has expired, some records are automatically transferred to the State Archives for permanent preservation. The Records Center will notify agencies before shipping records to the State Archives.
  2. Some records are sent directly to the State Archives from the agencies. In these situations, agencies must contact Anne Marie Ickes at (717) 787-7180 or email records management to arrange for the transfer.

 

How Does The State Archives Handle Confidential Records?

The State Archives works with the agency to identify any confidential records or information in records transferred to the Archives and creates a plan to ensure their continued confidentiality for as long as the law requires.

 

Does The State Archives Collect Records Only From The Executive Branch Of Government?

No, the State Archives collects and preserves records from all three branches of state government as well as local governments. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has its own official archives separate from the State Archives. They may be contacted by phone 717-783-3866 or email to Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

 

Does The State Archives Collect Personal Papers?

Yes, in some instances, the Archives will collect the personal papers of private individuals, or organizations and companies who have left their mark on the history of Pennsylvania.

 

Who Do I Contact If I Think I Have Records In My Office Of Archival Value?

You should contact Anne Marie Ickes (717) 787-7180, or , Tyler Stump (717) 783-9874, Joshua Stahlman (717) 772-3257 or email State Records Management.

 

How Can I Use The Records At The State Archives?

The State Archives is open to the public Wednesday - Friday, 9:00am - 4:00pm. Special arrangements can be made in advance for state agencies to use records on Monday or Tuesday, if there is an emergency situation. Contact the Reference Section at (717) 783-3281.

 

Who Is Permitted To Store Records At The State Records Center?

The State Records Center (SRC) stores semi-active and inactive records for Pennsylvania State agencies. The records must be listed on an approved records retention schedule in order to use the SRC. Independent agencies/offices that choose to use the SRC must abide by Commonwealth policies.

 

How Do I Know Which Records In My Office Should Be Sent To The State Records Center?

By your agency specific Records Retention and Disposal Schedule. The Records Center will store records anytime past the "retain at agency" time period listed and up until 6 months prior to the final disposal period indicated on the retention schedule. If not listed on the RRDS, see the General Schedule (PDF) or contact your agency records coordinator.

 

Can Anyone Request Records From The State Records Center?

No, only agency records coordinators, alternate records coordinators and authorized employees may request records. No record will be shown to any other requestor, whether from the public or from any state agency.

 

If I Don't Know Who My Agency Records Coordinator Is, How Can I Find Out?

Consult the agency records coordinator list.

 

What Is The Procedure For Authorizing An Employee To Request Records From The State Records Center?

The authorized personnel form (PDF) must be submitted by email to ERMS Security from the Agency Records Coordinator or Alternate Records Coordinator authorizing the employee permission to access the records.

 

How Do I Request Records From The State Records Center?

Requests must be submitted via ERMS (Enterprise Records Management System).

 

How Long Does It Take To Process A Request?

A request for 25 files or boxes will be processed by 10:00 am the following morning. Requests for more than 25 files or boxes will be processed on a first come, first served basis, but usually within 2 business days.

 

What Is The Procedure For Sending Records To The State Record Center?

  • The Records Coordinator will have scheduled shipment dates for the calendar year.
  • The records must be packed in official record cartons and each carton must be marked with the agency name or number, schedule item number and agency box number.
  • It is the responsibility of the Agency to make arrangements to ship the boxes to the Center.
  • The Center does not offer pickup services.

  • A Records Transfer List (STD-59) (Excel) must be completed and submitted for the records contained in the shipment to the Center at least one week in advance of the shipment.

 

Are Any Of The Required Forms Available Online?

Yes, the forms needed to add to, amend or delete records from an agency schedule, as well as forms for adding authorized personnel and transferring records to the State Records Center, are available on the forms page.