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  • For the Record: Explaining the lifecycle of public records

    Note: Daniel Davis, Documents and Micrographics Management Division Retention Program Coordinator, wrote this month's "For the Record" column. 

    The records we use and receive in Pima County, for the most part, only exist for a short time.  In the beginning records are utilized daily, but after their immediate use they may only need to exist as a long-term requirement. 

    The Records Management Program provides guidance to County departments on how to manage records through their lifecycle.

    The following graphic outlines the lifecycle of records.  



    Records are information, in any format, that document County business. Any document that does not pertain to County business is a non-record and should be disposed.  

    When you create or receive a record the first goal should be to identify the record type by the content of the record (e.g. a contract, an invoice, a project file, information about a grant, etc.). 

    Secondly, refer to the department’s record retention schedule, located here, to find the applicable Record Series for that specific record. The Records Series identifies the lifecycle related to that record.

    Active Use

    A record is active if it is frequently used. These records are usually readily available, accessible, and maintained with similar records. 
    The remarks column on the department’s records retention schedule describes the event that triggers the start of the retention period.  Records generally become inactive at this point (e.g. after closed, after calendar year created, and after report filed).

    Semi-active records are a sub-category of active records. On the records retention schedule the office retention column identifies how long a record should be maintained in the department. Typically, these records are accessed infrequently (i.e. less than once or twice a month).  

    Inactive Storage

    Records that are no longer accessed on a monthly basis, and require long-term retention, can be sent to Document and Micrographics Management (D&MM) for storage after reaching the end of office retention. 

    Record retention terms may be altered by consulting with D&MM.  Records that require permanent storage will be scheduled for microfilming in compliance with the Arizona State Library’s requirements for the preservation of permanent records.  

    To send long-term records to D&MM a transfer list must be completed (http://spbosap1.central.pima.gov/records/menu.asp).  Follow the instructions to submit the request and schedule pick-ups. 


    Records are always accessible by submitting a charge-out request through the Online Records Program. Records that are returned to the records center within a year will not need to be re-archived. Records that are re-activated can be re-archived at a later date. 


    Records stored at D&MM will be processed for destruction once they reach the end of their retention period. A letter will be sent to the department to notify them of the scheduled destruction and allow the department time to respond and delay destruction if necessary. Generally, records are recycled but will be shredded if they contain personal information.  

    Using the Records Lifecycle is a helpful way to view the progressive stages of records management. Most records have a limited lifecycle and are destroyed within 15 years. Failure to adhere to record retention schedules can lead to unnecessary expenditures (e.g. storage, maintenance). Records not disposed of at the end of their retention period can also be subject to records requests under statute or legal proceedings.

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