Counties & Municipalities

​Wisconsin state law varies slightly between State agencies and local units of government with regards to record retention and disposition.

Pursuant to Wis. Stat. §16.61(4), State agencies may not dispose of a public record unless they have a current record retention schedule approved by the Public Records Board (PRB) that covers that particular record series. However, pursuant to Wis. Stat. §19.21​, with some specific exceptions, local units of government must maintain all public records for a minimum of seven years, unless a shorter retention period has been approved by the PRB.  Records Disposition Authorizations (RDAs) are reviewed and approved on a quarterly basis by the PRB. RDAs are the mechanism for requesting PRB approval.  

All approved record retention schedules for state agencies and local units of government are accepted as public policy documents. 

For additional information contact:

Public Records Board Support Staff: (608) 266-2996

Wisconsin Historical Society, Local Unit Archivist: (608) 264-6469

3 Easy Steps to Records Managements for Local Units of Government

#1 – 60 day notice to Wisconsin Historical Society​
  * For records kept 7 years or over
  * Destroy or Transfer as instructed

#2 – Adopt General Records Schedules (GRS)
  * Complete General Schedule Adoption Form for each GRS you are adopting (PRB-002)
  * All GRSs, Statewide and Local Unit, are available for adoption by Counties and Municipalities 
  * Complete and submit any time of the year

#3 – Submit to PRB
  * For remaining, unique records with less than 7 year retention
  * Submit one of the RDA forms, PRB-001 or PRB-003, for review during one of the quarterly cycle​s

The process for getting a records r​etention schedule approved by the PRB is the same for state agencies and local units of government and is outlined below;

•  Once you’ve identified a record series that needs to be scheduled, amended or renewed draft your RDA using one of the approved RDA forms, PRB-001 or PRB-003. Review the instructions and ensure all appropriate data and signatures are included. 

•  When you have completed the RDA form, submit the draft to the PRB Executive Secretary at 

•  The RDA draft will be reviewed by PRB Support Staff and feedback provided regarding any changes that need to be made before the RDA is submitted to the Records Management Committee (RMC) of the PRB.

•  All RDAs submitted for the quarter will be compiled into packets.  Compiled packets are distributed to members of the RMC for review.  The RMC me​ets on a quarterly basis.  See the Meetings tab ​for submission deadlines and meeting dates of the PRB and its committees. 

•  At the RMC meeting the committee reviews each RDA submitted for content, completeness, compliance and conformity to legal, audit, operational and historical significance.  It is recommended that you attend this meeting in case questions arise about your submission that you may be able to resolve during the meeting.  If you can’t attend, PRB Support Staff staff will follow-up with you after the meeting.

•  If there are outstanding questions or issues that need resolved, PRB Support Staff will communicate with you regarding them.  You will have 1-2 weeks to work with staff in resolving those issues and return the updated/edited RDA. 

•  Completed RDAs are then presented to the PRB at its quarterly meeting.  The PRB votes on approval of the submitted RDAs.  If there are any last minute issues that arise during this meeting, or an agency failed to resolve any issues of their submission, those schedules will be held and placed into the next quarterly cycle. 

The approved RDAs are sent to the State Archivist for their signature and then to the PRB Executive Secretary for their signature.  Once those signatures are secured, approval letters and copies of the RDA(s) will be sent to you.  The originals are maintained for the PRB by the Executive Secretary at the State Records Center.​​