FAQs for State Government Agencies Illinois State Archives

What is a public record under the State Records Act?
Record or records means all books, papers, digitized electronic material, maps, photographs, databases, or other official documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made, produced, executed or received by any agency in the State in pursuance of state law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its successor as evidence of the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the State or of the State Government, or because of the informational data contained therein.

Library and museum material made or acquired and preserved solely for reference or exhibition purposes, extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience of reference, and stocks of publications and of blank forms are not included within the definition of records as used in this Act.

Reports of impaired physicians under Section 16.04 of the Medical Practice Act or Section 23 of the Medical Practice Act of 1987 are not included within the definition of records as used in this Act. (Source: P.A. 92-866, eff. 1-3-03.)

What is a Transitory Message?
Transitory messages can include messages sent via electronic mail, instant messaging (IM), text messaging (SMS) or paper correspondence and voice mail messages.

Examples of transitory messages which would not require the filing of a State Records Disposal Certificate, include but are not limited to messages (whether in paper, voicemail or other electronic form) that are not intended to formalize or perpetuate knowledge and do not set policy, establish guidelines or procedures, certify a transaction or become a receipt; announcements of office events such as holiday parties or group lunches; and recipient copies of announcements of agency-sponsored events such as exhibits, lectures, workshops; reminders to employees about scheduled meetings or appointments; messages notifying agency personnel of incoming calls/messages and/or requesting return calls documenting no specific actions; etc.

If the messages have a bearing on actions or decisions taken or not taken, then they would be classified as a public record under the State Records Act. Agencies would then be required to apply the appropriate retention period established by their Applications for Authority to Dispose of State Records and submit a State Records Disposal Certificate prior to the intended destruction of the records.

Are faxes, videos, emails, and instant messages, etc. records?
Yes they can be, depending on the information contained in the fax, email or instant message or the information recorded on the DVD, CD, video, or cassette tape, etc. If the information fits the definition above of a public record as described in the State Records Act, then the information is subject to the provisions of the "Act" regardless of the media the data is maintained in or on. Data can be stored on many types of media including cassette tapes, magnetic tapes, floppy disks, hard-drives, CDs, DVDs, thumb drives, etc.

Can we scan our documents and/or microfilm them?
Yes, however if you wish to dispose of the paper originals prior to their scheduled disposal certain criteria must be met. Criteria for the substitution of microfilm or electronic surrogates for paper records are outlined in the Illinois State Records Commission Rules.

For more information concerning digital surrogates, see 44 Illinois Administrative Code Part 4400.70 — Digital Reproduction.

For more information concerning the management and preservation of electronic records, see 44 Illinois Administrative Code 4400.80 — Management of Electronic Records.

For more information concerning storage of records on microfilm, see 44 Illinois Administrative Code, Part 4400.50 — Standards For The Reproduction Of Records By Microphotographic And Electronic Microimaging Processes With A View To The Disposal Of The Original Record.

Each agency is also under the obligation to file a State Records Disposal Certificate with the State Records Commission before any original record may be disposed of and before the reproduced digital record is disposed of.

Are there any State Records Commission rules regarding the destruction of state agency records containing confidential information?
All records for which disclosure is prohibited by law that contain social security, driver's license, or State identification number or that identify a person by name and birth date must be destroyed by a lawful, secure manner that does not allow for the reconstruction or reuse of the original record information.
(44 Illinois Administrative Code, 4400.40: Procedures for the Physical Destruction or Other Disposition of Records Proposed for Disposal)

  1. Approved methods of destruction for paper based records for which disclosure is prohibited by law or that identify a person include: burning; shredding, in which either a crosscut shredder cutting to a maximum width of ⅜ inches or an industrial sized strip cut shredder is used, if it is incorporated with a baler or the shredded paper is further destroyed; pulping using standard wet process pulpers; or pulverizing using a dry destruction process that may include the use of hammer mills, choppers, huggers or disintegrating equipment.
  2. Approved methods of destruction for non-paper based records for which disclosure is prohibited by law or that identify a person include: burning in a pyrolytic furnace or other incinerator or incendiary device; destroying in a dry pulverizing system; shredding; grinding, which is defined as abrading through the surface of an optical disc (compact disc); milling; knurling; disintegration; or degaussing. Computer software or hardware must be erased or wiped/sanitized in a manner that prevents retrieval.
  3. The handling and transportation of the records designated for destruction must be done in a reasonably secure manner that is designed to prevent public access to the records.
  4. The custodian of the records must prepare, sign and keep on file a certificate of destruction that lists what records have been destroyed, the method of destruction, who destroyed the records and the date of destruction.

Thirty days prior to disposal or destruction of any records, regardless of physical format or characteristics, the head of the agency shall submit a State Records Disposal Certificate to the Chairman of the State Records Commission and proceed with disposal only after a copy of that certificate has been reviewed and signed by the Chairman and returned to the head of the agency. The original copy of this disposal certificate will be kept in the files of the State Records Commission and the duplicate copy signed and returned by the Chairman shall be retained permanently by the disposing agency for its files.

The State Records Commission does not administer the lllinois Identity Protection Act; however, you may want to review it for more information regarding the protection of sensitive data by state government agencies.

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