Last August, there was a brouhaha about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s document destruction procedures. See “This Time, Record Destruction Claims Are Aimed At The SEC“. For the SEC and other federal agencies, the Federal Records Act of 1950, codified at 44 U.S.C. ch. 31, establishes the framework for records management programs.
Here in California we have the State Records Management Act (Government Code section 14740, et seq.). That act requires state agencies to establish and maintain a records retention schedule that details the public records that will be kept, how the records will be managed, and how non-permanent records will be disposed. For those wanting to dive deeply into state agency records retention procedures, the California Department of General Services has published this manual which supplements the State Administrative Manual and procedures on the CalRIM website.
For those who simply want to find out how long state government records will be retained and what records might be transferred to the State Archives, the Secretary of State recently announced “Athena“, a new on-line tool. I gave it a try and was quickly able to locate the various retention schedules established by the Department of Corporations.
I don’t know why the Secretary of State chose the name “Athena” for this new tool. It does seem to be apropos because according to the ancient Greeks, Athena was the goddess of wisdom. The Egyptian connection? Some have noted that Athena’s roots may be in Egypt. For example, the philosopher Plato refers to a city (Sais) in the Nile delta, in which the Egyptian goddess Neith was called “Athena” in the Greek language (“Αἰγυπτιστὶ μὲν τοὔνομα Νηίθ, Ἑλληνιστὶ δέ, ὡς ὁ ἐκείνων λόγος, Ἀθηνᾶ . . . “). Plato, Timaeus § 21e. If that is the case, the name is particularly apropos because historically the Egyptians have been remarkable record keepers as evidenced by the thousands of records found in the Cairo Geniza.