Involved in the purchase or
sale of government records? It's illegal!
Government records are paid
for by public funds and belong to the citizens of the communities that create
them. It is illegal for government records to be sold or alienated from public
custody unless done in accordance with established, legal retention procedures.
The law of
and Court Records (O.C.G.A. 50-18-102)
All records created or received in the performance of duty and paid for by
public funds are deemed to be public property and shall constitute a record of
(b) The destruction of records shall occur only through the operation of an
approved retention schedule. The records shall not be placed in the custody of
private individuals or institutions or semiprivate organizations unless
authorized by retention schedules.
(c) The alienation, alteration, theft, or destruction of records by any person
or persons in a manner not authorized by an applicable retention schedule is a
Government Records (O.C.G.A. 50-18-99)
As used in this Code section, the term:
(1) 'Governing body' means the governing body of any county, municipality, or
consolidated government. The term includes school boards of this state.
(2) 'Office or officer' means any county office or officer or any office or
officer under the jurisdiction of a governing body which maintains or is
responsible for records.
(b) This article shall apply to local governments, except as modified in this
(c) All records created or received in the performance of a public duty or paid
for by public funds by a governing body are deemed to be public property and
shall constitute a record of public acts.
if the government threw the records out?
are required to follow strict procedures when disposing of records. State law
requires that the destruction of records shall occur only through the operation
of an approved retention schedule (O.C.G.A. 50-18-102(b)). The disposition of
records that have been discarded legally will be well documented and easily
identified from the retention schedule. Any undocumented claim of disposition is
do I do if I find a government document being offered for sale?
Contact the State Archives
division of Records and Information Management at 678-364-3790. The
division will investigate. If the record has been stolen, the archives (through
the Secretary of State) has the authority to initiate actions through the
Attorney General to stop its sale or recover it (O.C.G.A. 45-11-1).
The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) has set up a website devoted to replevin and online auction issues. Visit www.statearchivists.org/issues/publ-rec-auctions.htm for more information.