Records Management FAQ
Florida's Records Management Program
- 1. What is records management?
Records management is about making sure information is available when and where you need it.
- Manage your records from the time they are created or received by your agency until they meet their final disposition.
- Control and manage the flow of information.
- Retain, store and dispose of records.
- Control and manage administrative operations.
- 2. What are the benefits of an effective and economical records management program?
- Save space.
- Reduce expenses.
- Retrieve information more efficiently.
- Comply with legal records retention and disposition requirements.
- Control creation of new records.
- Identify historical records.
- 3. What is the Florida Department of State’s Records and Information Management Program?
The program is authorized by Section 257.36, Florida Statutes, to promote the efficient and economical management of Florida's public records as defined in Section 119.011(12), F.S.
The program establishes rules and guidelines for managing public records, promotes and provides training in good records management practices, and offers economical records storage services at the Edward N. Johnson State Records and Information Center in Tallahassee.
- 4. What other records management resources are available ?
Please see our Related Links page for more information.
- 5. What is the definition of a "public record?"
The term "public records" is defined by Section 119.011(12), F.S. as:
- All documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software or other material.
- Regardless of physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission.
- Made or received in accordance with law or in connection with the official business of an agency.
- 6. How long must an agency keep a public record?
The minimum retention period of a public record is determined by the record’s nature, content and purpose.
Consult our General Records Schedules for more information.
General Records Schedules
- 7. What are general records schedules and how can my agency get copies of them?
General records schedules provide minimum retention periods for categories of records likely to be maintained by a large number of agencies.
The General Records Schedule for State and Local Government Agencies (GS1-SL) includes administrative records such as personnel files, payroll records, correspondence and other common types of public records.
The GS2 - GS15 apply to common program records of specific types of agencies or functions, such as tax collectors, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, hospitals, educational institutions and public libraries.
Use any applicable schedules along with GS1-SL to cover as many administrative and program records as possible.
You are not allowed to reduce the retention period. You may retain your records longer if you choose, or if your accrediting organization requires it.
- 8. I have reviewed the General Records Schedules which pertain to my agency and cannot find a particular record series. What do I do?
- Check under any closely related titles.
- For example, for hiring records, search under such similar terms as "employment," "personnel," "applications," and "search committee."
- If the record is NOT in a General Records Schedule, check with your agency's Records Management Liaison Officer.
- If your agency has not already scheduled these records on an agency individual records schedule, your RMLO will need to submit a Request for Records Retention Schedule (PDF) to the Division.
- Check under any closely related titles.
Records Management Liaison Officers
- 9. What is a Records Management Liaison Officer?
Every agency is required to appoint an RMLO to serve as primary point of contact between the Division of Library and Information Services, Records Management program Section 257.36(5)(a), Florida Statutes.
To appoint an RMLO, submit an appointment form (PDF) to us under signature of the records custodian indicating who the RMLO for your agency will be.
- 10. What are the RMLO's responsibilities?
Training, Consultation, Instructional Materials
- 11. Do you offer records management training, consultation or instructional materials?
Dispose of Public Records
- 12. How does an agency go about destroying public records? Is there a preferred method of destruction?
- In accordance with retention schedules.
- If all outstanding audit issues and litigation are resolved.
- At least 30 days after last public records request.
Read about the destruction of public records in the Florida Administrative Code.
You may choose to recycle, shred, incinerate or bury documents. There are vendors throughout Florida who can handle this on your behalf.
We cannot recommend a particular vendor. We caution you to thoroughly investigate each option. Give special consideration to records of a sensitive, confidential or exempt nature.
Many firms offer tours of their facilities, client references, and contractual assurances which guarantee the security of the record until its final disposition.
Some firms will send a certificate of destruction to your RMLO providing proof of the final disposition. These certificates should be retained by your agency along with your records disposition documentation as back-up or supporting material.
- 13. Do we need approval from the Division to destroy public records that have met their retention requirements?
No. However, you must:
- Ensure records have met all retention requirements before disposing of them.
- Maintain internal documentation of records dispositions.
- Submit to the Division an Annual Compliance Statement to help the Division report records management compliance to the Governor and the Legislature.
- 14. Our records have been damaged and are not recoverable. What should we do?
Read about disposing of unrecoverable public records and restoring damaged records on our Disaster Recovery webpage.
- 15. Are there penalties for noncompliance with Chapters 119 & 257 of the Florida Statutes?
- Violation of Section 119.10(1) of the Florida Statutes is a noncriminal infraction punishable by a fine not exceeding $500.00.
- Section 119.10(2), F.S., states that “[a]ny person who willfully and knowingly violates: (a) Any of the provisions of this chapter commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.(b) Section 119.105 commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.” Third degree felonies are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.00 and/or up to 5 years in prison (for habitual felony offenders, up to 10 years in prison).
- 16. What are other possible problems associated with noncompliance?
- If you keep records beyond their retention period, you will spend money that could be available for other program needs.
- Without properly scheduling and disposing of your records you will not have a professional audit trail that could be beneficial in litigation.
- Controversial documents are more likely to be located by opposing counsel if they are kept past retention requirements.
- Opposing counsel will take advantage of a lack of organization and management of records.
- Your agency may not be trusted to provide for the public’s right of access to public records.
- Government employees work in a highly scrutinized environment; the press and public respond quickly to allegations of fraud, abuse or mismanagement.