Retention of Public Records

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Public records are often accessed and used too often beyond their retention time. Frequently, the records in question are subject to FOIL or OPRA access requests or become the subject of other litigation or investigations. This can lead to unnecessary searches for old documents and a significant administrative burden to retrieve the information needed to satisfy these requests. Restrictive compliance with records retention schedules and a well organized and centralized digital records management system is an excellent option to avoid these kinds of problems.

It is important to understand the context of a document to determine the type of document. For instance the document that is an original copy of a final report that contains a significant amount of information should be stored in a longer-term manner than a draft version of the same document.

Retention Schedules is a legal document which defines how long documents must be kept and when it can be destroyed or transferred to the archives (or any other disposal option). Strict adherence to these schedules is a best practice for keeping documents from being searched for in response to access requests.

Schedules are classified as ADMIN USE (for administrative use) or permanent (for permanent preservation) or TRANSFERRED TO ARCHIVES FOR REVIEW in accordance with the level of preservation needed for a particular record. The PERMANENT category includes records like policies and procedures, handbooks, minutes of board and council meetings, institutional accreditation reports and other important documents. The TRANSFER to archives for review category includes records that are not deemed permanent but possess a high quality of archival significance. These include the records of the president and other senior officials, governance organization handbooks or minutes of inaugural or graduation ceremonies and other important documents.

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