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Townships May Keep Permanent Records in Electronic Form

Tuesday July 9th, 2019
Townships can now keep permanent records in electronic form thanks to a new policy of the Pennsylvania State Archives and Local Government Records Committee. The new policy has been added to the Municipal Records Manual.
The revised rule allows municipalities to keep records permanently in electronic form without a backup paper or microfilm version if the records meet certain format and storage requirements. Townships can access the revised manual, a supplemental guidance document, and an FAQ page on the State Archives website.
Under the new policy, permanent electronic records must be kept in the PDF/A format, which differs from the familiar PDF format, and must be stored in a live (computer) server environment with at least one backed-up copy stored separately. For each series maintained in this manner, townships must notify the State Archives using a form that can be found in the Municipal Records Manual.
Unlike with microfilm, the archives will not require inspection reports each time original paper copies are destroyed. The policy applies equally to records that are created electronically and those that are scanned from paper copies. However, it only applies to records with permanent retention; non-permanent records do not have any format or storage requirements if they remain secure and accessible for as long as they are retained.
For more information, go to the State Archives webpage for records retention schedules. Townships may also call (717) 787-7330 with questions.