Pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 317a (Disposition of public records) all public records are considered permanent unless destruction has been authorized under a record schedule approved by the State Archivist or by law.
VSARA issues two kinds of schedules: General Record Schedules (GRS) and agency Specific Record Schedules (SRS).
- General Record Schedules (GRS) provide consistency in recordkeeping for common government functions and activities. Any Vermont public agency (state and local) may adopt any or all of the requirements in a GRS and implement through their own internal policies and procedures.
- Agency Specific Record Schedules (SRS) provide specific recordkeeping requirements for records that are unique to certain agencies and their functions and activities. SRS may only be used by the agency to which the SRS was issued.
A retention requirement is the length of time a record must be retained by an agency before it may be destroyed or transferred to an agency archives. Retention requirements are comprised of two parts:
- The event or “trigger” that causes the record to move from an active to inactive state; and
- The specified amount of time after the event or trigger occurs that the record must be retained before it can be disposed in accordance with its disposition requirement.
A disposition requirement is how an agency must dispose of a record from its legal custody once retention requirements have been met. Disposition is based on the record's appraisal value. For example, records appraised as temporary (non-archival) have a disposition requirement of Destroy.
For a full list, see VSARA's Disposition Requirements Definitions.
If your municipality is under-going or reasonably expects pending litigation, an investigation, claim, negotiation, or audit related to any record, disposition must be suspended until the litigation, investigation, claim, negotiation or audit is resolved.
To adopt and apply General Record Schedules (GRS) and Municipal Specific Record Schedules (SRS) local officials and offices must implement a written internal records management policy approved by the appropriate oversight body in their respective jurisdictions. GRS and SRS numbers shall be cited in all internal policies to demonstrate compliance with 1 V.S.A. § 317a.
Local governments may request assistance from VSARA when drafting a records management policies; however, filing with VSARA is not required at this time and VSARA does not provide verbal or written approval of policies.
Vermont’s “Public Records Law” is found in Title 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter 3 of Vermont Statutes Annotated (1 V.S.A. §§ 315-320). The law states that “"[A]ny agency, board, department, commission, committee, branch, instrumentality, or authority of the state or any agency, board, committee, department, branch, instrumentality, commission, or authority of any political subdivision of the state" is obligated to provide access to public records for inspection and copying unless the records are exempt by law from public access.
If you are interested in learning more about how to manage your records or are you unsure where to begin, the Records Analysis Unit is available to answer questions and work with municipalities on establishing a records management program.
Pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 117 (g)(9) VSARA accepts for filing copies of land records submitted in microfilm by municipal or county clerks. Clerks wishing to submit security copies of their land records must have a Land Records Storage Agreement on file with VSARA. If you are unsure whether your municipality or county has a Land Records Storage Agreement on file with VSARA, contact VSARA for assistance.
- A security copy is defined as a reproduction of a record created and managed to preserve the information in case the original is damaged.
- A land record is defined as a document required to establish marketable title and which is filed or recorded in the records of a municipality, including all documents filed or recorded pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 1154.
Records shall remain in the legal custody of the municipality or county. VSARA will not grant access to them under any circumstances, except to the incumbent clerk of the municipality or county, or his or her designee, according to established procedure.
At this time VSARA cannot accept other municipal records for storage. If you have concerns about preserving records in municipal or county custody contact VSARA for assistance.