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Introduction to Records Disposition Schedules


Introduction | Schedules by Function | Schedules, A-Z



Policy on Retention of University Records (32 KB PDF)

The University depends on information to develop programs and services,make critical strategic decisions, protect property rights, manage projects,serve students, and generate revenue. That information is contained in University records. Records can only be fully utilized as an asset if they are properly managed to enhance access to information and to reduce costs and risks. A records disposition program is a critical component in properly managing records.

The goal of a records disposition program is to ensure that:

  • Records are kept as long as needed and only as long as needed
  • Information can be efficiently located, retrieved, and used
  • Records are disposed of appropriately to protect confidential information


Disposition schedules are a well-established tool to support efficient operation and to manage records in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Schedules consist of:

  • Inventory of document classes (record series)
  • Identification of the department responsible for maintaining the authoritative version of each series
  • Determination of when each series is destroyed or archived (i.e., its retention period)

Retention periods are based on an analysis of the length of time the documents are needed to support operationaladministrativelegalfiscal, and historic requirements. Retention periods are the same whether records are kept in digital, paper, or both, forms. Schedules should be used by all University departments and offices and by administrative and academic staff, administrators, and faculty.


The benefits of a records disposition program are:

  • Time Savings
    When inactive records are periodically removed from file cabinets and hard drives, searching for information in the remaining records takes less time.
  • Reduced Uncertainty
    Reliable, easy to find, guidance on disposition of records allows staff to take informed and confident action when managing records. Records are not stored long after their useful life "just in case" or "because I might get in trouble if it isn't here." Knowing what records exist and what offices are responsible for maintaining those records makes access to information simpler, faster, and more reliable.
  • Space Savings
    When inactive records are periodically removed from active work areas, less space and equipment are needed for storage. More space can be used by people to do work and less to store unneeded records. Departments developing imaging programs do not waste resources scanning records whose usefulness has expired.
  • Cost Reductions
    Containing the growth of records reduces the cost of labor to manage records and the cost of servers and file cabinets to store records.
  • Reduced Risk
    When destruction of records is done systematically according to disposition schedules, the University is assured of being in compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements. Records essential to efficient operation are identified and protected as long as they are needed.
  • Reliable Institutional Memory
    Records of long-term value are identified, permanently preserved, and accessible.

Non-Record Documents 

Most units use documents that are not University records to support their work. Because they are not records (i.e., evidence of University activities), these kinds of documents are not found in records disposition schedules. They can be disposed of entirely at the discretion of department staff.

How to Use Schedules

Section Example Meaning
Suspension Warning Do Not Destroy Records that are part of - or you are aware that they will be part of - any legal action, audit, investigation, or review. This warning appears at the top and bottom of every schedule as a reminder that, regardless of the normal disposition period, records that are part of an investigation, audit, or legal action MAY NOT BE DESTROYED. In other words, normal disposition is suspended until the investigation, audit, or legal action has been completed.
Schedule Title Budgeting Records The title identifies records with a common purpose (e.g., budgeting) or having a common form (e.g., contracts), that are generally used and managed as a group.
Description Documents budget development and performance monitoring Describes activities that produce the records and the document types most commonly produced by those activities
Confidentiality Personally identifiable (non-directory) student information Identifies the types of confidential information commonly present. Records containing confidential information that are scheduled for destruction should be securely destroyed to ensure that confidential information is not disclosed inadvertently.
Office of Record Budget Office
Controller's Office
Identifies the units responsible for official copies.
Other Offices Units maintaining convenience copies Identifies units holding other copies of records and may recommend how long those copies should be kept, if different from the retention period of the official copy.
Disposition Instructions Keep 5 years after current fiscal year, then destroy by shredding or file wiping: monthly expense statements, monthly salary distribution reports Identifies the length of time the official copy should be kept (its retention period) and the method by which it should be destroyed after its retention period has expired. When subgroups of records have different retention periods, this section is repeated.
Schedule Dates Effective Date: 2003
Revision Date: 12/2006
The date the schedule first became effective and the most recent date the schedule was updated.


How Schedules are Developed

A pilot project to develop records disposition schedules began in November 2005 and was completed in November 2006. The project was designed to determine the costs and benefits of records scheduling and develop a scalable process for a continuing program. Records in the custody of five University departments were inventoried. The records represented in the disposition schedules here are those found in multiple participating departments. These schedules are not comprehensive. Records not present in multiple inventories were not scheduled as part of the pilot project.

Project participants included:

  • Advancement Services (Development)
  • Alumni Relations
  • Enterprise Application Services (Information Technology Services)
  • Procurement and Distribution Services
  • Technology Infrastructure Services (Information Technology Services)

The Records Disposition Committee advised on the length of time the records identified in the inventories need to be kept to satisfy legal and regulatory requirements and to support fiscal, audit, and historic uses. Members of the Committee were:

  • Richard Baznik, Institute for the Study of the University in Society
  • David Bell, General Counsel
  • Helen Conger, University Archives
  • Anthony Kramar, Enterprise Application Services
  • Christopher Masotti, Audit Services
  • Daryl Robinson, Controller
  • Jill Tatem, University Archives

Staff from Human Resources, Student Employment, Travel Services, and Procurement offered expert advice on their current record retention practices.

Staff from the University Archives developed inventory forms and procedures, trained the participating departments' Records Coordinators in inventorying practices, researched retention practices at other universities, developed record series and draft retention schedules, produced this web site, and coordinated the project.

Additional general schedules are being developed. The University Archives will assist departments to develop department-specific schedules.

Most Recent Developments

Policy on Retention of University Records (32 KB PDF) 


Introduction | Schedules by Function | Schedules, A-Z

Archives Home | CWRU's History | Collection & Services | Managing Records 

questions or comments? please contact archives@case.edu

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