RIM & FOIP Employee tool kit

Mount Royal University Records Retention Schedule

The Mount Royal University Records Retention Schedule is an institutional document that sets out records retention policy for the University.

This records retention policy is reviewed by General Counsel (Legal Review) and formally approved by the President's Executive Committee (PEC), which is the senior operational decision-making body that is chaired by the University President.

The Records Retention Schedule provides alpha-numeric retention codes for the entire University based on function, which can be specifically assigned to folders containing official business records (final records) that are being managed by business units.

These codes provide a reference back to the policy document, which ultimately supplies a records retention length based on both operational and legal requirements.

Information contained in the University Records Retention Schedule guide business units on matters such as, whether to send records offsite and/or when records can be formally destroyed.

As operations within the University can often change over time, the Records Retention Schedule is considered a living document that can be formally revised by contacting the University Information Management and Privacy Advisor.

University Records Retention Schedule
Mount Royal University Records Retention Schedule - January 27, 2015

Mount Royal University Records Retention Schedule - June 24, 2014

Mount Royal University Records Retention Schedule – October 11, 2011

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Retention Schedule Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is it necessary to use a University Records Retention Schedule?

    It provides guidance to your business unit regarding how long to retain records and when to routinely destroy records.

    It demonstrates to the public that records destruction was completed in an impartial manner according to objective legal requirements rather than in response to a sudden crisis.

    It routinely creates space for new records as inactive records are routinely destroyed according to schedule.

    It provides quick evidence or proof to an individual seeking a FOIP access request that the record they seek no longer exists.
  2. Why is it necessary to use and maintain a record destruction certificate?

    A record destruction certificate and file list provides effective evidence or proof to an individual seeking a FOIP access request that the record they seek no longer exists.
  3. When do I assign an alpha-numeric retention code to my folders or records?

    Formal retention codes are designed for official records uniquely held by your business unit that provide evidence of an activity by your specific area.

    Original or final records held only by your area are a good example of when a retention code should be applied, whereas, transitory records (copies) can be destroyed at a business unit’s discretion.

    Occassionally, there may be an exception to the rule when a particular transitory record maintained by a business unit is deemed important enough to retain in the official file.
  4. Can I assign an alpha-numeric retention code to electronic documents?

    Absolutely (depending on the magnitude of your project) – All too often electronic records management projects quickly “go digital” without considering assigning a retention code. The outcome is a full server one year later holding large amounts of data. The large amount of electronic data makes it extremely difficult for a human being to discern what records should be formally destroyed and can be vulnerable to unauthorized access such as hacking.

    A records retention schedule should assign retention codes by function not by a medium such as, a web-site, floppy disk, CD etc. For example, a record of a contract is still a record of a contract whether it is in paper format or saved in PDF file format on your personal computer. The matter of fact that it is a contract is far more important to daily operations than where or how the contract is stored.

    Moreover, legislation such as the Alberta FOIP Act does not distinguish between a paper record and an electronic record. For example, according to section 10(2) of the Alberta FOIP Act, a public body must create a record for the applicant if that record is in electronic format, but can still be made available by the public body.
  5. Do I need to assign retention codes to folders in my personal office?

    It depends- If your file folders contain drafts, printouts, or photocopies then, by definition, these documents would be considered transitory by which they do not require a formal records retention code assigned.

    However, if your business unit retains formal records regarding an official final decision by the University then assigning a formal records retention code is strongly recommended.

    As only an example, University Records maintains both types of records. Some folders contain records pertaining to final decisions related to formal FOIP requests by the University and these are assigned a retention code.

    However, University Records also maintains some folders that simply contain government printouts and reference copies to help design final best practice policies online (MYMRU). These kinds of rough draft documents are transitory as this material only helps design strong final best practice policies.
  6. What if no retention code fits the operations of my business unit?

    Remember that the University Records Retention Schedule is a live and dynamic document that reflects changing laws and operational needs. Contact the University Information Management and Privacy Advisor to inquire about formally revising the Records Retention Schedule to meet your business unit needs.
  7. What does each column of the University Records Retention Schedule mean?

    Code: Contains the single alpha-numeric retention code that can be assigned to a folder containing particular records or to electronic records if required. The retention code provides a reference back to the formal University Records Retention Schedule, which documents how long a record should be kept and what legislation was applied to arrive at that decision.

    The first two letters represent the primary general function the documents relate to, while the three-digit number simply represent each secondary record series adjudicated under that primary function.

    Record Series and Scope Notes: Contains the title (Record Series) of the single alpha-numeric retention code. The Scope Notes outline what function the records relate to and generally what records are kept under the retention code.

    Office of Record: Contains the business unit that holds the original records for that retention code. If the column contains Various Departments, then records created by that particular function could be maintained by several groups.

    Active: Contains the number of years records under that retention code should be held onsite. This column also includes the event trigger represented by either an S=Superseded, C=Current Year, P=Permanent, or T=Terminating event.

    An event trigger is the point (circumstance) when the retention clock starts, which typically begins when the records gradually become inactive, irrelevant, or only used on occasion.

    Inactive: Contains the number of years that records under that retention code should be stored offsite. This column is considered only a recommendation as individual business units can elect to maintain records onsite for the same period.

    Total Retention: Contains the total number of years records assigned that alpha-numeric records retention code must be kept to meet legal requirements.

    Comments: Contains any comments related to the alpha-numeric retention code. Comments may also include a detailed explanation of the event trigger for that code.

    Acts and Regulation Citations: Contains the federal and provincial legislation that applies to the records under that particular alpha-numeric retention code.

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