Western Libraries - Archives and Research Collections Centre: Introducing Schedules
The University of Western Ontario
RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSAL SCHEDULES
The University of Western Ontario’s Records Retention and Disposal Schedules (hereafter Western Retention Schedules) are designed to support effective management of the University’s recorded information. Retention and disposal schedules specify how long specific records should be kept, where they should be retained and by whom, and whether they should ultimately be destroyed or preserved in an archives. They apply to all records, regardless of format, in all locations.
Retention and disposal schedules are key components of a comprehensive records management program that support the administration and operation of the University by:
- limiting unnecessary records accumulation;
- assisting in identifying and retrieving needed information;
- supporting cost-effective use of office space and storage facilities;
- guarding against premature destruction;
- assisting with legislative compliance; and
- assisting in identifying and preserving records of historical value.
Once they are approved, adherence to the provisions of the Western Retention Schedules is mandatory, as they represent the University’s official policy with respect to records retention and disposal.
The general structure and some contents of the Western Retention Schedules are based on a similar document produced by the Conference des recteurs et des principaux des universites du Quebec (CREPUQ). While changes were made to reflect differences in terminology and legislative requirements, as well as Western’s institutional practices and records keeping systems, use of the CREPUQ document significantly assisted the development of the Western Retention Schedules .2. Authority and Scope
The Western Retention Schedules exist under the authority of the University Records and Archives Policy, which was approved by the Board of Governors in 2001 (see http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/mapp/section1/mapp130.pdf). Key provisions include:
- A ‘record’ is defined very broadly as “any information, however recorded, whether in manuscript, printed, mechanical or electronic form, and any copy thereof, but does not include a computer program or any other mechanism that produces records.”
- All records “created, received, used or maintained by officers and employees in the course of their duties on behalf of the University are the property of the University. Officers or employees leaving their positions with the University shall leave all records for their successors. This applies to both temporary and permanent departures, including transfers within the University.”
3. Development and Approval
- The policy does not apply “to the records that are created or acquired by faculty members or other officers or employees pursuant to their individual responsibilities for teaching or research, unless the records are donated to the University Archives.”
The University Records and Archives Policy gives the President's Advisory Committee on University Records and Archives (PACURA) a mandate to “review and approve records management and archives operating policies developed to support implementation of specific components [of the Policy].” As a result, PACURA approved the following process for developing the Western Retention Schedules:
- Western Archives prepares an initial draft in consultation with the head and/or appropriate staff of the affected unit(s).
- PACURA reviews the initial draft and proposes initial amendments.
- The Internal Auditor, Legal Counsel and University Archivist review a revised draft and their suggested changes are incorporated into another version or, if significant, are referred back to PACURA.
- Western Archives solicits feedback from the university community by circulating the latest draft to Deans and Budget Unit Heads [Note: to avoid confusion as to which schedules are approved, drafts are not posted on the Western Archives website].
- Western Archives consolidates all feedback and incorporates suggested changes into a new draft and/or prepares a separate report for consideration by PACURA.
- PACURA reviews the final recommended draft, as well as any supporting documents. It approves the schedules in whole or in part, as submitted or with amendments, or defers approval with a request for substantive changes or more information.
Unless PACURA directs otherwise, all schedules take effect immediately upon approval. As noted previously, adherence to approved schedules is mandatory.4. Structure
The Western Retention Schedules reflect the function that particular records support, rather than the current organizational structure of the University. This reduces the impact of organizational change. They are divided into nine functional categories:
02 Human Resources
03 Financial Resources
04 Real Property and Movable Assets
05 Student Affairs
06 Community Services
08 Research and Development
09 Information and Communications
Within each category, individual schedules correspond to types or series of records relating to specific subjects or activities (e.g., within the Financial Resources category there are schedules for Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Endowments, etc.).
Each schedule is identified by a two-part number: the first reflects the category into which the schedule fits, while the second is a sequential number within the category. As new schedules are added, they are assigned the next available sequential number. The numbering system does not imply any relationship among schedules within a category.
Each schedule describes the contents of the associated records, identifies the unit(s) responsible for maintaining them and others that may have copies, defines how long records must be kept, and what should ultimately happen to them. They reflect the following stages through which recorded information flows:
- Active : records are maintained in unit offices, or on-line in an electronic environment, for current, regular use.
- Semi-active : records are stored in a central location, or near-line or off-line in an electronic environment, from which they can be retrieved as needed.
- Final Disposition : the fate of records after the completion of active and semi-active stages, either archival preservation (in whole or in part) or destruction.
Explanatory notes may be included to assist staff in applying a particular schedule (e.g., to clarify retention terms, to identify documents to be kept for archival purposes, etc.).
The following sample illustrates the structure of a schedule. It is provided as an example only; it should not be used as the approved version for this particular series.
 03 – FINANCIAL RESOURCES
 Records relating to the ongoing management of endowment and subscription funds administered by the University. Includes correspondence and other records concerning the investment and use of sums of money given to the institution by individuals or organizations, for general or specific purposes.
Excludes legal agreements and other records concerning the constitution of endowments.
 Affected Unit(s)
 Active Retention
 Semi-Active Retention
 Total Retention
 Final Disposition
Fiscal Year + 2 years
Fiscal Year + 6 years
Selective Archival Retention
All Other Units
Fiscal Year + 2 years
Fiscal Year + 2 years
 Selective Archival Retention = Retention of general information on the financial nature and development of each fund, including the creation, objectives, summary records and financial tables showing the financial development and portfolio composition of each fund. Destruction of supporting records.
 Effective Date: 2006-06-26 (New)
Legend (Glossary of Terms)Functional category title and number
- Functional category
- Schedule number
- Schedule title
- Scope note describing the function and contents of the records, as well as any exclusions
- Unit(s) retaining originals and/or copies of the records
- Retention period for active stage
- Retention period for semi-active stage
- Total retention period (active + semi-active)
- Final disposition provisions
- Notes to explain the application of a specific schedule
- Date of current version of the schedule and indication if it is new or a revision
Some schedule provisions are mandatory (i.e., units must comply with the requirements as defined), while application of others is left to the discretion of the individual units.
All units must do the following:
- Keep records for the combined total of the active and semi-active retention periods before implementing final disposition.
- Implement final disposition provisions as defined.
Units have the discretion to do the following:
- Keep records on-site longer than prescribed in the active retention period, as long as the combined total of the active and semi-active retention periods is not exceeded and adequate on-site storage space is available.
- Delay application of final disposition for up to one year in order to address one-time, specific needs at the unit level. If the need is ongoing, a schedule amendment should be requested (see below).
Schedules are amended as necessary in order to continue to reflect current records-keeping policies or practices. An amendment can result from a periodic review by Western Archives staff or from a specific request from a unit.
In order to ensure the Western Retention Schedules remain responsive to current needs, while recognizing PACURA’s authority, responsibility for approving amendments is assigned as follows:
PACURA must approve amendments to the following:
- final disposition provisions;
- active or semi-active retention periods, if the combined total period is changed;
- designated unit(s), if there is a substantive change in responsibility;
- schedule title and/or scope note, if there is a substantive change to the function or contents of the records; and
- any other amendments not specifically delegated to the University Archivist.
The University Archivist may approve amendments to the following:
- active or semi-active retention periods, if the combined total period is unchanged;
- designated unit(s), if there is no substantive change in responsibility (e.g., name change);
- schedule title and/or scope note, if there is no substantive change to the function or contents of the records (i.e., minor updates or clarifications); and
- changes to explanatory notes or implementation instructions that do not have an impact on responsibility, retention periods or final disposition.
All amendments approved by the University Archivist must be reported to PACURA at its next regular meeting.
For information on how to use the schedules, see Using Western’s Records Retention and Disposal Schedules.
For more information on Western’s records management program and services, please contact your assigned Records Archivist. For a staff list with corresponding unit responsibilities, see: Records Management Contact Information