State Records Appraisal Program


California's Secretary of State is statutorily identified as being the custodian of the public archives of the State (Government Code section 12221). To meet this mandate, the California State Archives (CSA), a division of the Secretary of State's office, has developed a State Records Appraisal Program that identifies state agency records with permanent retention value. The records so identified are maintained at the State Archives and are made available for public inspection and research, pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Government Code section 6250, et seq.) and the California Information Practices Act (Civil Code section 1798, et seq.).

CSA's State Records Appraisal Program works in conjunction with CSA's California Records and Information Management Program (CalRIM). Overall policy development and coordination of the State Records Management Act (Government Code section 12270, et seq.) falls to CalRIM.

Records Retention Schedules

Search Athena Athena is our online catalog and provides access to many state agency records retention schedules.

Under the provisions of the State Records Management Act, each agency must establish and maintain an active, continuing program for economical and efficient management of records and information collection practices of the agency. Each agency must also comply with the rules, regulations, standards, and procedures issued by the Secretary of State relative to records management.

The primary means of establishing an economical and efficient records management program is the development of records retention schedules. These schedules are, by law, required to be completed by every state agency and must include "any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by a state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics" (Government Code section 12271(e)). Further, under the State Administrative Manual (SAM), section 1600, all agencies must perform a records inventory every five years and prepare an updated or new retention schedule that reflects the inventory. If a schedule is past the five year mark, it is considered active but non–current, and must be followed until a new schedule has been approved.

The California State Archives reviews the records retention schedules and "flags" those record series that have archival value. If records are flagged for review by the Archives' State Records Appraisal Program, the records must be transferred to CSA at the end of their retention period. It is important to remember that CSA does not keep everything that has been flagged. The retention schedule review is the first in a series of appraisal steps, and once the records have been transferred to the Archives this appraisal process continues. Once records are transferred to the Archives, they become the responsibility of the Secretary of State and no longer fall under the jurisdiction of the originating agency.

It is imperative to remember that "no record shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by any agency of the state, unless it is determined by the Secretary of State that the record has no further administrative, legal or fiscal value and the Secretary of State has determined that the record is inappropriate for preservation in the State Archives" (Government Code section 12275 (a)). If records are being destroyed without the prior approval of the Secretary of State, the agency is violating the State Records Management Act.

Contacts for Additional Information

For more information on the California State Archives' State Records Appraisal Program, contact Sydney Bailey or Andrew Hyslop. Telephone calls may be directed to (916) 653–7715 or email SRAP

For research requests, please review Collections and Frequently Asked Questions then contact the Reference Desk.

State Archives

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Athena: Records Retention Schedules