Local Government

The Local Government Records Office staff are here to help guide you toward a successful records management program through consultations and hands-on assistance.

E-mail locgov@mdah.ms.gov or call 601-576-6894 or 601-576-6976 with questions you may have about managing your records. Our services include:

  • Education and training through workshops, onsite, and at conferences
  • Creation of standards for management of paper, microform, and electronic records, and for records storage
  • Development of records retention schedules, approved by the Local Government Records Committee
  • Approval of Records Disposal Authorizations for court and unscheduled records
  • Consultation by phone, email, and on-site visits, including A Day at Your Disposal visits to participating counties and municipalities
  • Distribution of the quarterly newsletter, NEWS on the Record

Training Calendar

Want to create your own on-site training for staff? Contact us at locgov@mdah.ms.gov and schedule a time. 

Local Government Records Programs

The Local Government Records Office is funded by a $1 fee added to any document filed in a county or municipal office for which a fee is already charged.  The local government keeps half of the fee collected and remits the other half to the Local Government Records Fund. While all municipalities are required to collect the fee, each county’s Board of Supervisors must vote to approve collection of the fee (MS Code § 25-60-5).

The local government’s portion of the fee collected is to be used to properly manage the records of the local government, including personnel services, contractual services, commodities, or equipment.

Retention Schedules

Check here quarterly for the most recent Local Government Records’ retention schedules.

Local Government Records Retention Schedules
Records Retention Schedule for Counties
Records Retention Schedule for Municipalities
Records Retention Schedule for Airports
Records Retention Schedule for Libraries
Records Retention Schedule for Schools
Records Retention Schedule for Community and Junior Colleges
Entity Specific Records Retention Schedules

 

Local Government Records Map

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Local Government Records Programs Map

Services

Day at Your Disposal 

Our premier hands-on assistance workshop, A Day at Your Disposal, is available to counties participating in the records management program under MS Code § 25-60-5.  Working with you, we will help you identify records that can be destroyed, provide technical assistance to improve your storage conditions, preserve your historical documents, and help you develop a plan to better manage the records lifecycle. 

Email us to schedule your day.

Grant Program

On occasion, the Local Government Records Office may set aside funds to help counties better manage their records through the purchase of specific industry standard tools or supplies based on our research. Eligibility for grants may depend on the county’s participation in the records management program.

Public Notice

The quarterly meetings of the Local Government Records Committee are held the third Tuesday of January, April, July, and October at 10:30 a.m. at the William F. Winter Archives & History Building in Jackson, Mississippi. The meetings are open to the  public.

Learn more 

Disposal Authorization

Public records may not be disposed of without an approved retention schedule.  In some cases, however, including court records, a disposal certificate may be obtained from MDAH giving the director's approval to dispose of records deemed to not have archival value. Learn more about to how properly dispose records. 

Prior to disposing of eligible records, an inventory of those records to be destroyed should be performed. The Board of Supervisors, Board of Aldermen, City Council, or other governing body, must authorize the disposal by recording the inventory, or a summary thereof, in its minutes.

Consult the cover page of each set of records retention schedules for restrictions on disposal of records involved in litigation, investigations, or audit, or records prior to 1940.

According to Mississippi law, records may not be destroyed except in accordance with an approved retention schedule. Therefore, records series not listed in these schedules are not eligible for disposal until an appropriate records retention schedule has been approved by the Local Government Records Committee.

Authorization to destroy records of chancery, circuit, county, youth, or justice courts in Mississippi must be obtained from the Department of Archives and History. Because the Local Government Records Committee does not have the authority to issue records retention guidelines for court records, disposal authorization is based on several statutes in the Mississippi Code. In addition, requests for court records disposal will be reviewed to determine the records’ potential archival value.

The Disposal Authorization form is available here. Include in your request the type(s) of record you wish to destroy (e.g. “Circuit Court Case Files”), the span of dates of the records, the volume of records, and your postal mail address. Upon approval, a disposal authorization will be mailed to the address included in your request. Approval from either your county’s Board of Supervisors or the appropriate court should also be obtained.

Standards

The Local Government Records Office provides current information to help local government officials manage their records.

PDFs to come

Email Standards
Standards for Local Government Archives
Off-Site Storage Standards

Standards for Electronic Records
Electronic Records are subject to the same retention standards listed above and the existing retention schedules apply to all records regardless of format unless noted otherwise in the approved retention period.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is records management?

Records management has been called “a systematic approach to the creation, use, maintenance, storage and ultimate disposition of records throughout the information life cycle.” Mississippi law (Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, §25-59-3(i)) defines it as "the application of management techniques to the creation, utilization, maintenance, retention, preservation and disposal of records undertaken to reduce costs and improve efficiency of record-keeping. Records management includes management of filing and microfilm equipment and supplies, filing and information retrieval systems, historical documentation, micrographics, records system scheduling and vital records protection." Note that records management covers all records regardless of format. See MCA 1972,§25-59-3(b) and §25-61-3(b) for a definition of what constitutes a public record.

2. What state laws address the management of and access to state and local government records?

Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, §25-59-1 through §25-59-31 comprise the "Mississippi Archives and Records Management Law of 1981," as amended. The law designates the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) as the archival and records management agency of the state of Mississippi.

Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, §25-60-1 through §25-60-5, §39-5-9, and others comprise the "Local Government Records Act of 1996," as amended. The law establishes the Local Government Records Committee to review and approve records retention schedules, authorizes the establishment of regional records centers, and provides for local governments to charge a $1 document filing fee to support their records management program and fund the Local Government Records Office. 

Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, §25-61-1 through §25-61-17 comprise the "Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983," as amended. The law codifies state policy regarding access to public records, stating that public records as defined by the law are open for inspection unless otherwise provided by law. 

3. What is the Local Government Records Committee?

The Local Government Records Committee is composed seventeen members representing various state agencies, local government officials’ associations, historical and genealogical research associations, and an at-large member appointed by the governor (MCA 1972, §25-60-1). The committee has the duty to review, approve, disapprove, amend, or modify records retention schedules submitted by the Local Government Records Office, municipalities, and counties for the disposition of records based on administrative, legal, fiscal, or historical value.  The director of MDAH serves as chairman of the committee, which meets the third Tuesday of each quarter.

Schedules amended by the committee are held over for public comment until the next meeting.

4. What is a records retention schedule?

As defined by state law, a records retention schedule (or “records control schedule”) is a "set of instructions prescribing how long, where or in what form records shall be kept" (MCA 1972, § 25-59-3). More directly it is a document describing a records series and specifying how long it must be retained before it is disposed. Once approved by the Local Government Records Committee, a records retention schedule has the force and effect of law.

5. What is a records series?

A records series is a group of file units or documents arranged according to a filing system or kept together because they relate to a particular subject or function, result from the same activity, document a specific kind of transaction, take a particular physical form, or have some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, or use.

6. How do I know if records retention schedules are in place for my office? If not, to whom should I talk about having my records scheduled?

The current general records retention schedules for various local government entities are available elsewhere on this website, or you may contact:

Local Government Records Office 
200 North Street 
Jackson, MS 39201 
Phone 601-576-6894 
Fax 601-576-6899 
Email: locgov@mdah.ms.gov 

Staff of the Local Government Records Office can let you know what schedules are currently in place. They can also offer advice on implementing these schedules, or work with you to develop new schedules for your records.

7. Can a records retention schedule be altered once in place? If so, how?

Yes. Contact the Local Government Records Office to request that a schedule be amended, or an entity-specific schedule may be created. An amended schedule approved by the Local Government Records Committee legally replaces the previous version of the schedule.  An entity-specific schedule cannot designate a retention period shorter than a corresponding general schedule.

8. Do records have to be scheduled before they can be disposed of?

State law provides that public records are not to be disposed of without an applicable records retention schedule.  In some cases, however, including court records, a disposal certificate may be obtained from MDAH giving the director's approval to dispose of records deemed by MDAH to not have archival value.

9. How do I submit a request for disposal of court records or other non-scheduled records?

Requests for disposal should include the records series and date range, a contact person and mailing address, and may be mailed to the Local Government Records Office at P. O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205-0571 or emailed to locgov@mdah.ms.gov.

10. What do we do with records that we still refer to occasionally but that we have no room to store?

Records that must be kept for extended periods of time or permanently may be stored in areas outside the main office once their reference frequency diminishes; this may be in another location within the city hall or courthouse, another government-owned building or an off-site facility.  State law (MCA 1972, § 25-59-25) also allows local governments to transfer inactive records to local historical or archival groups or public libraries. The Local Government Records Committee has approved standards for off-site storage of inactive records and for local government archives, which are both available elsewhere on this website.  Contact the Local Government Records Office for advice on transferring records off-site.

11. We found a bunch of old-looking books and papers in one of our storage buildings. What should we do with them?

First of all, don't dispose of them (see question number 8 above). Before attempting to organize or clean the materials, please contact the Local Government Records Office so that archivists and/or records analysts can view the materials and determine what course of action to take.  See question number 6 for contact information.

12. How do I know which records are open to the public?

In general, Mississippi's public records are open to the public unless specifically exempted by state law from the provisions of the Public Records Act. However, federal law and guidelines are also applicable in some cases.

13. May we donate some of our old county/municipal records to MDAH?

MDAH believes that local records should be kept available in the local community. Under special circumstances the department will accept certain local records, but our storage space is limited, too. A local public library or historical society’s facility may be a better choice (question 10 above).

14. What are the benefits of records management?

Records enable and support an agency's work to fulfill its mission. Because records contain information, a valuable resource, a systematic approach is essential to the management of records. The following benefits of records management and of using records retention schedules have been identified by the National Archives and Records Administration as being applicable to federal agencies. They are applicable to state and local governments as well. Records management:

  • Contributes to the smooth operation of your agency's programs by making the information needed for decision making and operations readily available. 
  • Helps deliver services in a consistent and equitable manner. 
  • Facilitates effective performance of activities throughout an agency. 
  • Protects the rights of the agency, its employees, and its customers. 
  • Provides continuity in the event of a disaster. 
  • Protects records from inappropriate and unauthorized access. 
  • Meets statutory and regulatory requirements including archival, audit, and oversight activities. 
  • Provides protection and support in litigation. 
  • Allows quicker retrieval of documents and information from files. 
  • Improves office efficiency and productivity. 
  • Provides better documentation more efficiently. 
  • Supports and documents historical and other research. 
  • Frees up office space for other purposes by moving inactive records to storage facilities. 
  • Prevents unnecessary purchases of office equipment.
     
15. What are the benefits of using records retention schedules?

Using records retention schedules:

  • Ensures that the important records are organized and maintained in such a way as to be easily retrieved and identifiable as evidence of the program's activities, especially in the event of an audit, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, or a discovery in a lawsuit.
  • Conserves office space and equipment by using filing cabinets to store only active paper records and conserves server space by using tapes, disks, and other off-line storage media for electronic records.
  • Saves money by moving inactive files to off-site storage areas until they are ready for final disposition.
  • Helps preserve those records that are valuable for historical or other research purposes.
  • Controls the growth of records in offices through the systematic disposition of unneeded records.
16. Is training in records management available?

Yes.  The Local Government Records Office periodically conducts workshops on basic records management, electronic records management, and emergency preparedness for records. There is also a 90-minute online course on records management basics available on the MDAH Web site.  See the Training page for more information.  Staff can also conduct on-site visits to address specific records issues; contact the Local Government Records Office to arrange a visit.

17. What is the Records Management Fee?

The Records Management Fee (sometimes referred to as the Archives Fee) is a $1 fee added to any fees already collected for filing any document in a local government. Municipal governments are required to collect this fee, while a county government’s Board of Supervisors must first vote to collect this fee. Currently seventy-four (74) counties have voted to collect this fee in at least one office.

18. What is the Records Management Fee used for?

Per MCA §25-60-5, counties and municipalities keep half of the fees generated, and "shall expend monies derived from the fee hereinabove imposed solely to support proper management of their official records in accordance with records management standards established by the Department of Archives and History." Expenditures may be made for wages for hours spent in the direct management and preservation of local government records, for travel expenses directly related to the management and preservation of local government records, and for purchase of supplies, materials, services, and equipment directly related to the management and preservation of local government records.

The other half of the fees is sent to MDAH "to support the Local Government Records Office of the department and to support a local records management grant program as funds permit."

19. What are some examples of filings where the Records Management Fee may be added?

For county governments:  Any document filed in the chancery clerk’s land records office, except military discharges; filing civil suits in any court; marriage licenses, professional licenses and judgments in the circuit clerk’s office; taking bonds in the sheriff’s office; registering mobile homes as real or personal property in the tax office.

For municipal governments:  Cemetery deeds; bus/taxi operator’s license; garage/yard sale permits; parade and temporary event permits; garnishment of employee wages.

For both:  Building permits and related permits and applications; zoning applications and related filings.

20. How can I make sure my county or municipality is providing the best management of its records?

Fully participate in the records management program:

  • Collect and utilize the records management fee. 
  • Follow the records retention schedules. 
  • Take advantage of available training. 

 

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