About the UC Records Retention Schedule

UC Records Retention Schedule

Knowing what records to keep and for how long is challenging. A records retention schedule defines the period of time that records should be retained and when they should be destroyed. Various requirements based in law and university policy govern the retention of administrative records. A retention schedule is critical for promoting responsible records management, mitigating risk, and ensuring consistent compliance across UC. To gain an understanding on how to use the schedule, review this webinar. Questions regarding the schedule should be directed to the appropriate campus records management coordinator.

It is important for all members of the University community to adhere to the retention periods in the schedule (except in the cases of a records hold). The schedule serves as the lawful authorization for the disposition of records; consequences of not following the schedule may include court-imposed legal sanctions.

Updating the schedule

The University Records Management Committee (RMC) is charged with developing and maintaining the universitywide records retention schedule. To determine updated retention periods, the project lead reviews University policies and procedures, researches relevant legal requirements, and meets with functional area experts both to validate the proposed retention period and to determine if other types of records exist that should be included. The RMC reviews the draft record category descriptions and retention periods, seeks input from campus functional experts, and suggests revisions as appropriate. After several iterations, the RMC approves the text and retention period for a particular category of records, and turns to the next category for discussion and review.

Records included in the schedule

Per University policy, RMP-1, “University Records Management Program,” and except as superseded by federal laws and regulations, and university contracts, the retention schedule applies to all administrative records, regardless of their medium, owned by the

  • University of California campuses and the Office of the President,
  • University of California health sciences centers, and
  • Department of Energy laboratories managed by the University of California.

The schedule does not apply to

  • Administrative records held by the Principal Officers of The Regents,
  • Teaching and research records (e.g., library materials, faculty research and teaching materials, student examinations), or
  • Records pertaining to individual patient care (medical records).

Features of the UC Records Retention Schedule

  • Functional categories - The RMC has defined broad categories of records tied to single-year retention periods, such as four years or five years, rather than identifying specific records and listing ranges of years. In this way, retention periods are tied to functions rather than a specific form or document. For example, if users want to find the retention period for an invoice, they will find it within the “Financial and Procurement Records” category.
  • No office of record - The schedule does not list an "office of record" for each record category since this varies from campus to campus. Units that wish to list specific records or office of records may work with their campus records management coordinator, who may create location-specific detail and resources to support implementation of the systemwide schedule.
  • Maximum retention - The updated schedule provides maximum, or "absolute," retention periods, but also provides for exceptions as long as justification is given through a documented approval process. A maximum retention period means the records must be retained as long as the schedule indicates and then destroyed.
  • Confidential and vital listings - The schedule indicates if there are confidential records or vital records in the record category. Vital records are records that are essential for an organization to continue business-crucial functions both during and after a disaster, e.g., patent license agreements or records that establish University ownership; as well as records that are essential to protect the rights of individuals and the organization, e.g., payroll records or human resources records.
  • Rationale - Justifications for the published retention period are provided.
  • Media neutral - The schedule is media neutral and applies to all records – electronic or paper.

Records holds

If pending, foreseeable, or ongoing litigation; an investigation; or an ongoing audit pertaining to the records is taking place, the records cannot be destroyed until these actions have been completed or resolved. For information about records holds, contact your campus records management coordinator.

Appreciation goes to the University of Denver, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and Harvard University for their free, open-source, web-based software tool, which UC enhanced to use for managing, and distributing the UC records retention schedule.  See Records Authority project page and Records Authority code archive for more information.