Ohio State’s General Records Retention Schedule (General Schedule) accounts for the management and disposition of university record series that are common to many units across campus. In addition, there are units on campus that have record series that are unique to their operations and therefore have a unique records retention schedule in addition to the General Schedule. All schedules, general or unique, are developed by the University Archives in consultation with campus and unit representatives.
A records retention schedule is a comprehensive list of record series, indicating for each the length of time the series is to be maintained and its disposition. A record series is a group of related records filed and/or used together as a unit and therefore evaluated as a unit for retention and disposition purposes.
All Ohio State units must familiarize themselves with the General Schedule, and have an understanding of what records—paper-based and electronic—they create and/or receive and are required to manage. Units must conduct an inventory of their records and map them to the General Schedule.
If a unit identifies record types that do not map to the General Schedule, the unit should contact the University Archives to discuss the creation of a unique schedule. All unit unique schedules must be signed by the University Archivist and an appropriate unit representative.
Retention & Disposition Terminology
RETENTION: Record retention periods can either be a set period of time or it can be an event-driven period. Below is an explanation of retention period terminology:
- Active+: This retention period indicates that the final disposition clock does not start until the active period is over. Example: Strategic Plans must be retained Active + 1 year; after a new strategic plan is adopted the final 1 year of retention begins.
- Life of Building+: This retention period is similar to “Active+” but pertains specifically to buildings. The final retention period begins when a building is destroyed or sold.
- Until Superseded: This retention period pertains to documents that are routinely updated and therefore superseded by the current version.
- 3 cycles: This retention period pertains to the retention of electronic back-up files.
- Indefinite: This retention period pertains to records that are required to be maintained for a significant period of time and possibly permanently. However it is not yet known whether they truly need to be maintained forever, and at some point in the future their status must be reappraised.
- Transient: Documents including telephone messages, some emails, drafts and other documents, which serve to convey information of a temporary value, have a very short lived administrative, legal and/or fiscal value and should be disposed in an appropriate manner once that administrative, legal or fiscal use has expired. Typically the retention is not a fixed period of time and is event driven; it maybe as short as a few hours and could be as long as several days or weeks.
DISPOSITION: Part of any effective records management program is the timely disposition of obsolete records and the documentation thereof. The Ohio State General Schedule currently identifies five (5) general disposition options:
- Destroy – Secured: If the record series contains restricted information, as defined in Ohio State’s Policy on Institutional Data, the records must be destroyed in a secure manner such as incineration, maceration, shredding, pulping, or secure electronic destruction—the most common method being that of shredding.
- Destroy: If the record series does not contains restricted information, the records may be destroyed by placing in trash or recycling, or via electronic destruction, as well as in the manner described for secured destruction.
- Permanent within Department or Unit: Records series that have a demonstrated legal or administrative need to a particular unit on campus to be maintained permanently.
- Archival Review: Record series that have selective content that may be of value to the University Archives in documenting Ohio State’s history, and should be submitted to the University Archives for review prior to destruction.
- University Archives: Records series that have significant value in documenting Ohio State’s history must be transferred to the University Archives. If the unit has determined that records should be transferred to the Archives, please follow the procedures detailed at:
Before actually disposing of the records, the Ohio State unit should complete and forward a Certificate of Records Destruction (CRD) to the University Archives for review and permanent retention. Units are strongly encouraged to conduct a records purge at a minimum of an annual basis. Due to the low informational value, high volume, and frequency of disposal, a CRD does not need to be completed for the routine disposal of records identified as transient (XIENT) in the retention schedules.