It has been over a decade since the Utah State Archives and Records Service did a comprehensive review of its general retention schedules. Since then a great deal has changed in the way that states and non-governmental entities manage their records. The nature of records is changing, or maybe more accurately has changed, as centuries old analog formats are being replaced by electronic records. There is a shift in the way that business is conducted and the methods that companies use to document their activities. It is an exciting time to be in records management. In order to respond to — and more importantly anticipate — these changes the Utah State Archives is beginning to re-think how agencies in Utah ought to be creating, controlling, and preserving records. As part of this process the Archives is in the initial stages of analyzing the records created by the agencies that it serves. The goal is to create general retention schedules that take a broader view of records based on the functions they serve in the agencies that create them. By taking this approach the Archives will create general schedules that are more inclusive of the records being created now. The hope is that these general schedules will provide better guidance to agencies and reduce the need to schedule individual specific series.
The first step in this process is a review of our current general retention schedules. Utah’s general schedules are categorized by state, county, municipal government, school district, and agency specific schedules. Over time discrepancies have arisen amongst similar schedules. For example, lost warrant/checks are required to be kept for 7 years in the state general schedule (7-48), 1 year in the school district (5-29) and county (5-26) schedules, and 4 years in the municipal (5-30) schedule. The records analysis section at the Archives is questioning why similar records would require three different retention periods. In an effort to reduce confusion and streamline our schedules we will be reviewing and updating general schedules with the guidance of the State Records Committee. As changes are made to the schedules we will post updates on this blog under the “General Retention Schedules Updates” tab.
Updating the general schedules will take some time, and more importantly will require participation from agencies served by the Archives. Who knows what records are created better than the agencies that create them? If you are a records manager for a state agency, county, or municipal government we need your help! The records analysts will contact records managers in the upcoming months as the Archives moves forward in revising its general schedules. Feel free to contact Joshua Bullough (firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-531-3860) if you have any thoughts or would like to be part of this process. This will be an intensive and extended process, but we are excited to create new tools that will more efficiently assist agencies in managing their records.