What Makes A General Retention Schedule

Rebekkah Shaw Records Management, State Records Committee

With the recent attention on the proposed Administrative Correspondence general retention schedule, and approval of several new schedules, we thought it a good opportunity to share with our readers what general retention schedules are and their role in records management.

The Utah General Retention Schedules are policies created and maintained by the Utah State Archives that describe a group of like records based on function and appraisal that stipulate retention and disposition. Retention is the required period of time records are to be accessible. Disposition is the final action after retention is met, either destroy or maintain permanently.

To create a retention schedule group of like records are identified and described based on functions. For example, meeting minutes are required by law to be created for all open meetings (Utah Code 52-4-203). Many governmental entities have open meetings subject to this law and therefore have created meeting minutes. The general retention schedule Minutes describes these records and specifies the retention and disposition based on their appraisal (State Agency Schedule 1-51).

Appraisal is the process of determining the value and thus the disposition of records based on their value. There are four appraisal values which may be assigned:

Administrative Value — records used in the conduct of current and/or future administrative business.

Fiscal Value — records required until a financial audit is completed or financial obligations are fulfilled.

Legal Value — records containing evidence of legally enforceable rights or obligations. Also refers to retentions specified by statute, rule, or regulation.

Historical Value — records of enduring historical or other value that warrant continued preservation of records beyond the period required to transact the business of their originating agency or its successor in function.

More than one appraisal value may be assigned. Records determined to have historical value are designated in the general retention schedules as permanent. Records determined to have administrative, fiscal, or legal value have varying retention periods.

In reference to the previous example of meeting minutes, these records have an immediate administrative value because they are used in the conduct of administrative business. Meeting minutes also have historical value because they document decisions made and actions taken by a legislative body. The appraisal of historical value determines the permanent disposition of these records (State Agency Schedule 1-51).

All general retention schedules go through an established creation process which includes researching state and federal laws, soliciting input from identified stakeholders, and an internal review. Once a proposed general retention schedule is approved by the stakeholders and internally, it is submitted to the State Records Committee (SRC) for consideration and posted for public review on the State Archives’ website, the State Records Committee’s page on the public notice website and the State Archives’ records analysts’ blog. Proposed retention schedules are submitted to the SRC and are available for public comment at least two weeks prior to the next State Records Committee meeting. Upon approval from the State Records Committee, general retention schedules are published on the Utah State Archives’ website for governmental entities to use.

All governmental entities are required by state law to retain and destroy records according to an approved retention schedule (Utah Code 63A-12-150). Political subdivisions have the right to create and approve records retention schedules internally (Utah Code 63A-12-105(3)(a)(i)). If an internal retention schedule is not properly adopted then the Utah General Retention Schedules becomes the model retention schedule (Utah Code 63A-12-105(3)(a)(ii)). State governmental entities are required to use a State Records Committee approved retention schedule.

For those governmental entities who adopt the Utah State General Retention Schedule as the model retention schedule, the retention schedules are to be applied as published (Utah Code 63A-12-105(1)&(2)(a)).