If you need more in-depth assistance, please email us at dpa_archivesrm@state.co.us with your question. Please be sure to write “Records Retention Question” in the subject/title box.

What are the laws that cover the retention and destruction of public records?

Title 24 - Article 80 of the Colorado Revised Statutes provides for the preservation of permanent records and the destruction of records that are no longer of value to public agencies. SB03-033 made significant changes to the above Title 24 - Article 80. The Colorado State Archives as the designee of the Executive Director of the Department of Personnel sets the policy for the preservation of records of enduring value and the destruction of records that are no longer of value. All State agencies and political subdivisions must consult periodically with the State Archives concerning the retention and disposition of their records. The State Archives does not provide retention guidance for records created and maintained by private entities or non-profit groups.

Is the State Archives offering any continuing education trainings for records managers?

The State Archives does not have any upcoming events scheduled at this moment. When such programs are scheduled, they will be visible on the Archives' front page calendar. As we learn of relevant events being offered in the area (or online), we will share that information on our list of upcoming records management training opportunities.

Are there any guidelines or manuals on-line that tell me how long I need to keep my records?

Currently, the State Archives has the following Manuals posted on-line:

State agencies may destroy records listed in the manual at any time. All local government agencies that are not already approved to use the specific manual appropriate to their agency must adopt the manual by submitting the Approval Request Form to the State Archivist. For most other records not listed in the manuals, State Agencies and political subdivisions need to implement a records retention schedule with the Colorado State Archives.

What is a records retention schedule?

A records retention schedule is developed specifically for a public agency. It lists all records maintained by the agency and how long they need to be kept. The State Archivist and the State Auditor's Office sign the retention schedule. Some of the records need to be retained permanently, while others can be destroyed once they have exceeded the minimum retention period. The records retention schedule is a legal authorization to destroy records.

What is a minimum retention period?

A minimum retention period is the shortest amount of time a record must be kept before it is destroyed.

How are minimum retention periods developed?

State or Federal laws or regulations set some retention periods, while others are based on laws or regulations. For most records, the State Archives along with the agency appraises the legal, fiscal, administrative and informational value of the record to arrive at a retention period.

How can I tell if my agency has a records retention schedule?

The State Archives keeps a copy of all retention schedules on file. For information, e-mail us at: dpa_archivesrm@state.co.us. Please put "Records Management" in the subject line.

My records retention schedule is old. How can I get an updated schedule?

Since records retention schedules are developed specifically for each entity, the State Archives does not automatically update them. Entities are responsible for notifying the State Archives as to what records on their schedules they no longer maintain and what records need to be added to their schedule.

How do I destroy my records?

Records can be destroyed by shredding, burning (where no local burn ordinance is in effect), recycling, or landfill. Records that are confidential in nature should be destroyed by shredding, or they can be destroyed professionally by a company that can certify to security destruction.

What if we want to keep something longer than the manual specifies?

You may, but you place your community at risk of additional litigation costs should the office be sued in regard to a matter related to the records that are retained longer than legally needed.  Once you become aware of the possible litigation, it is too late to get rid of records that you should have destroyed previously since the is is "if you still have them, they are discoverable."

Do we need a local exception to keep something longer than the manual specifies?

A local exception must be approved for you to retain something for a shorter time period that the manual specifies and is not required to keep something longer than the specified retention period. However,  it is important to document internally that the office's policy is for a longer retention period.