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Regular retirement and annual purging of inactive records from active files is essential to reduce file bulk and make active records easily accessible. A Records Retention and Disposition Schedule is the fundamental tool used to keep old and obsolete records moving out of an office to make room for more recent and more useful records.
A records retention schedule identifies record series and prescribes the time period that they must be retained before they reach their ultimate fate or disposition. The disposition of a record, as prescribed in a records schedule, may range from immediate destruction or destruction after a period of time to permanent retention in the University Archives or elsewhere.
The general University Records Retention and Disposition Schedule identifies most record series created by offices of the University and prescribes retention periods and dispositions for them.
The 1999 edition of the schedule is a customized version of the records schedule created for the entire Oregon University System and approved as Oregon Administrative Rule 166-475. This schedule integrates schedules from the 1993 and 1996 OSU Records Retention Schedules, series dispositions derived individually from the 1992 system-wide records inventory project, and new series identified through records reviews of and conversations with offices and departments throughout the Oregon University System. This schedule was updated in February 2003.
If a record series is not listed in the general University Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, the department's Records Management Officer (RMO) should contact the University Archives. The archives staff, after reviewing the general schedule, may determine that a special schedule is required, and will help you with the scheduling process.
The process for creating a special schedule begins with an inventory or analysis of the records in question. The records will be reviewed to determine function, quantity, date span, frequency of use. This information will be analyzed by the Archives staff, and a proposed disposition (including a retention period) will be drafted. The proposed disposition will be sent to the State Archives in Salem for additional review by State Archives staff, and in certain cases, the Secretary of State's Division. Once it has been approved by the State Archives, the retention period can then be applied to the records. Copies of each special schedule disposition created will be sent to the department holding the records and kept at the University Archives.
The term "retention period" refers to the maximum and minimum lengths of time that a record must be kept by law. The retention periods prescribed in the university records schedule are exact retention periods, which means that the department must keep a record series at least as long as the schedule retention period (minimum), but no longer (maximum). An exception to the mandatory destruction of a record series at the end of its retention period occurs when the record series is required for or involved in litigation, criminal or civil investigation, audit, or is needed for ongoing administrative purposes. There is no exception to the requirements for the minimum retention of a record series.
Several different retention period designations are used in the University Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, including "Permanent," "Until Superseded," "Until Obsolete," or a specific number of years. "Permanent" indicates that the record series will be kept indefinitely, or at least 100 years. This designation is given to all records that the University Archives determines to have continuing historical value. Most records with a permanent retention period are transferred to the University Archives when they become inactive. In a few instances, however, records with a permanent retention period are maintained in the offices of record, not the University Archives.
"Until Superseded" is the retention period assigned to records that are routinely updated or revised and where the previous version has no continuing value. "Until Obsolete" is assigned to record series that become valueless on a non-routine basis. Retention periods that are a specific length of time are based upon usage factors and legal requirements, such as audits.
Retention periods usually begin at a chronological file break, such as the fiscal, calendar, or academic year. The retention period applies to all records created during the time period. For example, the record copy of many accounting records has a four-year retention period, by fiscal year. The retention period for journal vouchers created during the 1998-99 fiscal year (July 1, 1998 - June 30, 1999) began on July 1, 1999. After four years, on July 1, 2003, they will be eligible for destruction.