Office of the Secretary > Records Management > FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Records Retention Schedule?


A​ Records Retention Schedule is a tool that Depaul University uses in order to guarantee that records are kept as long as legally and operationally required and that obsolete records are disposed of in a systematic and controlled manner. Groups or Classes of records are listed on the Schedule along with the approved retention period for each record group. The Records Retention Schedule is intended to ensure that employees adhere to approved record-keeping requirements, and do so consistently.

What is a Retention Period?

The retention period is the period of time that each type of record must be retained. There are several types of retention periods: 

The Legal Retention Period is the period of time that records in a given Record Class must be retained according to statutes, regulations, and other legal considerations. 

The User Retention Period is the period of time that records in a given Record Class must be retained to support operational and/or business requirements. 

The most important retention period is the Official Retention Period. This is the period of time that records in this Record Class must be retained according to official Depaul University policy. Records that have fulfilled their official retention period are required to be reviewed for destruction. 

A retention period may be stated in terms of months or years, or may be expressed as contingent upon the occurrence of an event such as the termination of a contract or conclusion of a project. 

For most records, the retention period begins when the record is created. In such cases the retention period is added to the creation date to produce a date through which the record must be maintained. Some records begin their retention with a particular event, to which the retention period is then added.​

How the Records Retention Schedule is organized?

The Depaul University Records Retention Schedule is based on a hierarchical classification scheme consisting of Business Functions, Record Classes, and Record Type Examples.

Heirarchy
At the highest level, Business Functions are broad categories of similar business processes, such as Legal or Human Resources. Although the Business Function names may resemble department names, the records grouped under a Business Function may be owned by multiple departments. For instance, although Contracts and Agreements may be classified under the Legal Business Function, this does not indicate that all contracts are to be found in the Legal department. Rather, it indicates that Contracts and Agreements, wherever they are kept, support a legal business process and function. 

Within each Business Function, there are associated Record Classes. A Record Class is a category or group of records that support the same business process and that have similar retention requirements. Each Record Class has a unique Record Class Code, Name, and Description.

Under each Record Class, there is a list of associated Record Type Examples. Record Types are representative examples of the kinds of documents, files, reports, forms, and data that are classified under each Record Class. Please note this list is not intended to be exhaustive; rather, it is meant to cite common examples only.

Why can't I find my department listed in the Records Retention Schedule?

Records in the Depaul University Records Retention Schedule are grouped by Record Classes withinBusiness Functions, rather than by departments.

What information is available on each Record Class in the Records Retention Schedule?

The Records Retention Schedule provides the following details for each Record Class: 

Record Class Code 
The code associated with the Record Class. Each Class in the Depaul University Records Retention Schedule is assigned a unique alphanumeric code. When transferring files to inactive storage, this code is used to identify the retention requirements of the records. 

Record Class Name 
The name of the Record Class. Each Class in the Depaul University Records Retention Schedule is assigned a unique name. 

Business Function(s) 
A broad classification that is used to represent core business functions regardless of departmental ownership. In some cases, Record Classes may be classified under more than one Business Function. Click on the Business Function name to display a list of all of the Record Classes in that Function. Click here to display a list of all of the Business Functions in the Depaul University Records Retention Schedule. 

Record Class Description 
A brief narrative description of the types of records that are classified under each Record Class. The description may also contain cross-references to other, related Record Classes. Click on the Record Class Code in the description to display the detailed information for the related Classes. 

Official Retention Period 
The period of time that records in this Record Class must be retained according to official Depaul University policy. A retention period may be stated in terms of months or years, or may be expressed as contingent upon the occurrence of an event such as the termination of a contract. Records that have fulfilled their retention period are required to be reviewed for destruction. 

Retention Event 
The event upon which the retention period is calculated. The Retention Event triggers the start of a record's Official Retention Period. 

Record Type Examples 
A list of representative examples of the kinds of documents, files, reports, forms, and data that are classified under this Record Class. Please note this list is not intended to be exhaustive; rather, it is meant to cite common examples only.​​

How do I know if a document is considered an official record?


Official Records

An official record is the complete (final) and most authoritative record that is to be maintained for business or legal reasons. Official records can be considered the original and final document. If that document is maintained by your department then you have an official record. Unofficial records can be drafts or duplicates of official records or documents that were not created or received as part of doing business. 
If you have any questions about whether or not your department has official records please contact the Records Management Department before destroying them.​

I have official records that are not listed on the Records Retention Schedule. What do I need to do?

Unlisted Records

Official records that are not listed on the Records Retention Schedule should not be destroyed without first speaking with the Records Management Department. Contact the Records Management Department and they will help you determine if your records are covered under another records group or if they need to be added to the schedule.​

How do I know if I need to fill out a Certificate of Destruction Form before destroying records?

Certificate of Destruction

If your department is listed as the Responsible Department on the Records Retention Schedule for the records you want to destroy you need to fill out the Certificate of Destruction Form first. If your department is not the Responsible Department for those records you may destroy them without filling out the Certificate of Destruction.​

When can I destroy unofficial records (duplicates, drafts, etc)?

Destruction of Unofficial Records

Unofficial records should be destroyed once your office no longer needs them to do business. Unofficial records should never be kept longer than the official records.​

What is the difference between “Permanently Retain” and “Send to University Archives”?

Retention vs Send to Archive

“Permanently Retain” means that the Responsible Department is in charge of storing those documents into perpetuity. The records may be stored in the office or off-site. That decision is left up to each Responsible Department. The Responsible Department needs to retain access to these documents and be able to retrieve and produce them if asked. The Responsible Department maintains ownership of them. 

“Send to University Archives” means that those records are to be transferred to the DePaul University Archives. The University Archives is a functioning office located on the third floor of the Richardson Library on the Lincoln Park campus. The University Archives will take ownership of the transferred records and maintain them into perpetuity. For more information please contact Andrea Bainbridge at abainbri@depaul.edu or (773) 325-1746.​


The Retention Schedule states that some of my records are to be transferred to the University Archives. How do I do that?

Transfer to University Archives

Records that are designated to be transferred to the University Archives should only be transferred once your office no longer needs them for business purposes. Records should be transferred as part of a series and not piecemeal. For more information please contact Andrea Bainbridge at abainbri@depaul.edu or (773) 325-1746.​

My department keeps some of these records in electronic format. Do we still need to follow the retention period on the Records Retention Schedule?

Electronic Retention

Yes. In regards to electronic records your department is tasked with making sure the electronic record is deleted once the retention period is over or stored in a format that can be permanently retained. Departments that have electronic-only records should have continuing conversations with IS to ensure that records with a permanent retention period can be maintained into perpetuity. Please contact the Records Management Department if you need assistance.​

My department has scanned many of our paper records. Do we need to keep the paper records after we have created an electronic copy?

Keeping Paper When Scanned

This is one of the trickier questions to answer. As we move forward with different phases of the records management program the answer to this question may change. Currently the decision as to whether or not to keep the paper records is up to your individual department. However, if you have records that are designated as needing to be transferred to the University Archives please retain the paper copy for transfer purposes. If you need assistance determining whether or not you should keep paper records after they have been scanned please contact the Records Management Department.​

The retention period on the Records Retention Schedule is incorrect. Can it be changed?

Corrections

Please fill out the Change Request Form on the Records Management website and submit it to the Director of Records Management. Someone will contact you to discuss any details. The request will then be discussed with the Records Management Committee. If the change is approved you will be notified.​

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