What is a Records Retention Program?

Records management requires that the organization develop a comprehensive program that stipulates how long to maintain or archive record documents. It generally will be policy that has been approved by the Chief Legal Officer or the Board of Directors of the organization. Record keeping requirements include legal, regulatory and fiduciary responsibility. 

The process usually contains three separate stages: records classification, retention scheduling, and disposition management. 

  • Records classification

The arrangement of like records into homogeneous grouping; e.g., accounts payable, personnel files, litigation files.  

Rule of Thumb: a code is usually assigned to each homogeneous grouping. This is called a "record series code". 
  • Retention scheduling

The process of discerning the life of the record in each stage of the record life cycle. Retention scheduling includes regulatory requirements of federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as, the practical business life of the records.  

Common myth: All records have regulatory or legal record retention requirements. This statement is false since the vast majority of records by volume have no particular retention requirement. 
  • Disposition

This represents the manner and method of final destruction of the record or the conversion or migration to another media type.

Rule of Thumb: the most commonly accepted method of destruction is confidential recycling and the most common form of migration is from paper to electronic form.

A record on the records retention and disposition schedules for routine destruction, as it has no predictable value to the organization after its initial use

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