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Records Management Policy

The Ethics Commission’s Records Management Policy is adopted pursuant to Chapter 8 of the San Francisco Administrative Code, which requires each department head to maintain records and create a records retention and destruction schedule. This policy supersedes all previous record retention policies issued by the Commission.

This policy covers all records, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which have been made or received by the Ethics Commission in connection with the transaction of public business.



The Ethics Commission will retain records for the period of their immediate or current use, unless longer retention is required for historical reference, contractual or legal requirements, or for other purposes as set forth below. The Ethics Commission’s records shall be classified and preserved as follows:

Category 1: Permanent Retention. Records that are permanent or essential shall be retained and preserved indefinitely.

  • Permanent records. Permanent records are records required by law to be permanently retained and which are ineligible for destruction unless they are microfilmed or placed on an optical imaging system, and special measures are followed. S.F. Admin. Code Section 8.4. Once these measures are followed, the original paper records may be destroyed. Duplicate copies of permanent records may be destroyed whenever they are no longer necessary for the efficient operation of the Commission. Examples of permanent records are campaign statements of certain local officeholders, which must be maintained indefinitely. Gov’t Code Section 81009(b).
  • Essential records. Essential records are records necessary for the continuity of the Commission and the protection of the rights and interests of individuals. S.F. Admin. Code Section 8.9. Examples of essential records include advice letters and opinions, policy memoranda, and interpretive materials such as manuals.

Category 2: Current Records. Current records are records which for convenience, ready reference or other reasons are retained in the office space and equipment of the Commission. Current records shall be retained as follows:

Definite Retention Period Specified by Law. Where federal, state, or local law prescribes a definite period of years for retaining certain records, the Commission will retain the records for the period specified by law. Examples of records required to be maintained for a specific period are statements of economic interest, which must be maintained for seven years, Gov’t Code Section 81009(e); and certain campaign statements which must be maintained for four years. Gov’t Code Section 81009(f).

No Definite Retention Period Specified by Law. Where no specific retention period is specified by law, the retention period for records that the department is required to retain shall be specified in the attached Record Retention and Destruction Schedule. Such records may be placed in storage and retained offsite at any time during the applicable retention period. Examples of current records include discrimination and harassment complaints and personnel files.

Category 3: Definite Retention Period Specified by the Office of the Controller. The Office of the Controller has promulgated record retention guidelines for specific types of documents. Examples of records required to be maintained for a period of five years are invoices and purchase orders. A copy of the Controller’s Guidelines is attached.

Category 4: Two-Year Retention Before Destruction. Original records (not duplicate copies) reflecting significant or recurring issues (such as research files) should be retained for a minimum of two years.

Category 5: No Retention. Original and duplicate documents and other materials that are not essential to the functioning or continuity of the Commission and that have no legal significance may be destroyed. Examples include documents and papers generated purely for the convenience of the person generating them and draft documents which have been superseded by subsequent versions, or rendered moot by Commission action. Specific examples include telephone message slips, correspondence, notepads, e-mails that do not contain information required to be retained under this Policy, and chronological files.

With limited exceptions, no specific retention requirements are assigned to documents in this category. Instead, it is up to the originator or recipient to determine when the document’s business utility has ended.


Records and other documents or materials that are not expressly addressed by the attached schedule may be destroyed at any time provided that they have been retained for the periods prescribed for substantially similar records.


Records may be stored in the Commission’s office space or equipment if the records are in active use or are maintained in the office for convenience or ready reference. Examples of active files appropriately maintained in the Commission’s office space or equipment include active chronological files, research and reference files, legislative drafting files, pending complaint files, administrative files and personnel files. Inactive records, for which use or reference has diminished sufficiently to permit removal from the Commission’s office space or equipment, may be sent to the City’s off-site storage facility or maintained in the Commission’s storage facility.


Historical records are records which are no longer of use to the Commission but which because of their age or research value may be of historical interest. Historical records may be offered to the San Francisco Public Library or a historical society for preservation. Historical records may not be destroyed except in accordance with the procedures set forth in Administrative Code Section 8.7.


The retention periods set forth in the attached record retention schedule shall not apply to materials that are otherwise eligible for destruction, but which may be relevant to a pending claim or litigation against the City. Once a department becomes aware of the existence of a claim against the department, the department should retain all documents and other materials related to the claim until such time as the claim or subsequent litigation has been resolved. Where a department has reason to believe that one or more other departments also have records relating to the claim or litigation, those departments should also be notified of the need to retain such records.


Accident-Injury Reports 2 5 years 29 CFR 1904.6
Audit Reports 1 Permanent
Audit Work Papers 4 2 Years
Advice Letters 1 Permanent
Annual Reports 1 Permanent
Budget Files 4 2 Years
Calendar, Prop. G 5 2 Years
Complaint files 1 Permanent
Complaint logs 5 None
Chronological files 5 None
Commissioner Files 1 Permanent
Contracts 3 20 Years + Term of Agreement Controller’s Guidelines
Contract Correspondence 2 2 years or Life of Agreement
Contract Payment Records 3 20 Years + Term of Agreement Controller’s Guidelines
Correspondence 5 None
Campaign Consultant Statements 2 5 Years S.F. Admin. Code Sec. 16.544(e)
Campaign Statements (original) of mayors, members of board of supervisors, and committees supporting these officeholders 1 Permanent Gov’t Code Sec. 81009(b)
Campaign Statements (original) of candidates not elected to office of mayor or board of supervisors, and committees supporting such candidates 2 8 Years Gov’t Code Sec. 81009(b); S.F. C & GC Code Sec. 1.110
Campaign Statements (original) of all other persons for which the Ethics Commission is the filing officer 2 8 Years Gov’t Code Sec. 81009(c); S.F. C&GC Code Sec. 1.110
Copies of campaign statements, statements of economic interest, or reports filed with the Ethics Commission 2 4 Years Gov’t Code Sec. 81009(f)
Discrimination and Harassment Complaints 2 Lesser of 50 Years or Life of Employee
Employment Applications/Resumes 4 2 Years
Equal Opportunity Plan 4 2 Years
Executive Director Reports 1 Permanent
Family Medical Leave Act Records 2 3 Years Fair Labor Standards Act Sec. 11(c)
Fax Transmittal Sheets 4 2 Years
Filing Deadline Notices 4 2 Years
Financial Records, Miscellaneous 3 5 Years After Applicable Fiscal Year Controller’s Guidelines
Fine Letters 1 Permanent
FPPC Forms/Manuals 1 Permanent
Invoices 3 5 Years After Applicable Fiscal Year Controller’s Guidelines
Lease Files 4 2 Years
Legislative Drafts 5 None
Lobbyist Statements 2 5 Years S.F. Admin. Code Sec. 16.531(d)
Manuals and other Commission Publications 1 Permanent
Medical Information 2 Lesser of 50 Years or Life of Employee
Minutes of Commission and Committee Meetings 1 Permanent
Miscellaneous Employment Related Records 4 2 Years
MOUs 3 20 Years + Term of Agreement Controller’s Guidelines
OSHA Reports 4 2
Payables (Invoices) 3 5 Years Controller’s Guidelines
Payroll Records 4 2 Years Secure permission from SFERS prior to destruction
Personnel Files 2 Lesser of 50 Years or Life of Employee
Policy Memoranda 1 Permanent
Press Releases 1 Permanent
Purchase Orders 3 5 Years Controller’s Guidelines
Quarterly Lobbyist/Campaign Consultant Reports 1 Permanent
Regulations 1 Permanent
Revolving Funds Records 3 5 Years Controller’s Guidelines
Settlement Agreements 1 Permanent
Statements of Economic Interest 2 7 Years Gov’t Code Sec. 81009(e)
Time Rosters 4 2 Years Secure permission from SFERS prior to destruction
Time Sheets 4 2 Years Secure permission from SFERS prior to destruction
Travel and Reimbursement Records 3 5 Years Controller’s Guidelines
Work Orders and Payments 3 5 Years Controller’s Guidelines
Workers’ Compensation Records 2 5 Years Title 8, Cal. Code Section 10102


Approval by the Ethics Commission:

_____________________________ _____________________________

Virginia E. Vida Date Approved

Executive Director,

Ethics Commission

Approval as to Financial Documents:

______________________________ _____________________________

Edward Harrington Date Approved


Approval as to Legal Documents:

___________________________ _____________________________

Dennis J. Herrera Date Approved

City Attorney

Approval as to Payroll Documents:

_________________________ _____________________________

Clare M. Murphy Date Approved


Retirement System

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