Now is a good time to review and update records, records management plans and inventory

Records and Information Management (RIM) staff advise that the new year is an excellent time to review your records and Request to Dispose of any that are eligible.

Maryrose Hightower-Coyle, Records Management officer and RIM director, explained that based on business cycles the beginning of the fiscal year in September or October, the beginning of the calendar year in January or February, and the end of the spring semester are all times to set for systematic and legally defensible disposition of records.

“Establishing a regular time to review and request to dispose of records is a best practice that helps avoid the appearance of disposing of records inappropriately,” Hightower-Coyle said.

Records and Information Specialist Elista Street added that many records have a retention based on year. Requesting and disposing of records at the start of the year is a good way to remember to do it and can help keep your department record retention consistent and defensible.

“Disposing of eligible records helps to reduce the risk associated with over-retaining records,” Street said. “If you still have a record--even if it is eligible for being disposed--and you have not destroyed it, you will have to produce that record in the event of litigation, open records request, or audits. Following consistent and proper records disposition procedures allows departments to say with accuracy that they no longer have a record.”

Early in the spring semester is also an optimal time to review your internal Records Management Plan and Inventory and make any needed updates.

“Part of the department records management plan is establishing a time to review the plan on an annual basis,” Hightower-Coyle said. “Reviewing the records management plan and inventory at the beginning of the year brings good records management practice to mind so that any records management projects can be part of overall planning for the department. For many departments, the review at the beginning of the year is the only records management activity that will be necessary.”

Street emphasized that keeping your Records Management Plan and Inventory up to date is essential for capturing your business processes and the records that are created.

“The Plan and Inventory can be provided to the entire unit or department to make sure everyone is aware of the university requirements, as well as the department’s specific requirements, such as storage locations, naming conventions for filing, and resources for managing their records,” Street said. “An updated Plan and Inventory are great resources for a unit or department that can be shared with new hires and used to ensure that all members get started and stay on the same footing.”

Visit the RIM website for resources as well as information on how to request a consultation or attend training.

Records Management
Feb. 9, 2022