Schedule Update Project

The University Records Management Committee (RMC) is leading an initiative to revise the records retention schedule to better address the types of administrative records currently in use, to support University compliance with legal and other regulatory retention requirements, and to promote adherence to UC best practices. Questions about the schedule should be directed to the appropriate campus records management coordinator.

Schedule update process
The project was launched in May 2012. A records manager was hired by the Office of the President to lead the project under the RMC's direction.

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.

Why update the schedule
The previous records retention schedule was out-of-date. It was developed in the 1980s and included now-obsolete records yet lacked many new records. It did not appropriately reflect the current business environment, advances in technology and records management practice, or current data privacy and security standards.

In addition, the format of the previous schedule was cumbersome to use. It listed specific records, such as the title of a form, rather than broad categories of records, thus requiring the user to know a record name in order to find it. It also provided ranges of years for the retention period, such as 0-10. Such ranges were difficult to interpret and follow.

An incomplete and difficult-to-use schedule increases the likelihood of noncompliance. This puts the University at risk of destroying records that should be retained, or keeping them longer than is appropriate or allowed. By updating the schedule and providing clear guidance about retention mandates and best practices, the University can improve compliance, reduce risk, simplify storage management, and ease record retrieval, while reducing administrative costs and encouraging efficiency.

Phased publication
The project to create a new schedule is time-consuming, spanning two or more years. To enable the University community to benefit from updated retention periods as soon as possible, the RMC will publish the new schedule in phases. The first phase, which was published August 1, 2013, included new retention periods for the majority of the records found in the previous outdated retention schedule. Updated retention periods can be found for

  • academic records ±
  • capital resources records*,
  • compliance records,
  • financial and procurement records,
  • general routine office transitory records,
  • human resources records,
  • information technology records †,
  • intellectual property records ‡,
  • payroll and benefits records,
  • program administration records,
  • public safety records*,
  • research administration records҂ ¢,
  • risk management records ‡, and
  • student records ± ҂

* New retention periods for capital resources records and public safety records were added November 8, 2013.

† New retention periods for information technology records were added March 5, 2014.

± New retention periods for academic records and student records, except reasonable accommodations records, were added on September 19, 2014.

҂ New retention periods for research administration records were added November 19, 2015.  New retention periods for the reasonable accommodations records section of student records were added November 17, 2015.

‡ New retention periods for intellectual property records and risk management records were added February 15, 2017.

¢ New retention periods for the anatomical donation/materials program records section of research administration records were added July 11, 2017.

Subsequent phases will include retention schedules for academic personnel records, budget records, and more.

Until all project phases have been completed, updated and pre-existing retention periods will reside in the same schedule.

Once an updated section of the schedule is published, it will be immediately effective and will supersede the corresponding retention period in the previous schedule.

What’s new
To address problems with the previous schedule, particularly format and usability, the RMC has created a schedule that is simple to use and easy to update over time. The key attributes of the updated schedule are as follows:

  • 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 updated schedule will 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 updated 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 updated published retention period are provided.
  • Media neutral - The schedule is media neutral and applies to all records – electronic or paper.