What is a transitory record?
Transitory records are records of temporary usefulness that are needed only for a limited period of time in order to complete a routine action or prepare a final record.
As with all records, they can exist in any format or medium (paper or electronic), and can be created and shared using a variety of technologies (e.g., email, social media, shared drives, website, DropBox, etc).
Transitory records are not an integral part of an administrative or operational record series and are not regularly filed in standard records or filing systems.
Transitory records should be destroyed on a routine basis once their usefulness has ended. All confidential (including restricted) transitory records should be securely destroyed.
Types of transitory records
Extra copies of records created and retained only for the convenience of reference, including photocopies.
Stocks of publications, pamphlets, blank forms, informational material, etc. which have no further usefulness or historical value.
Working material and drafts
Rough notes, steno work materials, word processor diskette copies, calculations, preliminary drafts, rough research notes, and similar materials used in the preparation of correspondence, reports, memoranda, statistical tabulations, or other records.
Once the finished record has been produced, documented, and incorporated into a regular filing or records system, these working materials become transitory records.
Some common examples of transitory records are:
- Working documents – drafts, rough notes, preliminary versions, and other intermediate documents – and supporting materials used to create final documents which are not needed once the final documents are completed
- Committee agendas and minutes kept by committee members or received by units as information other than the official office responsible for committee records committee
- Copies of records retained when the original is sent to another unit (e.g., a copy of an invoice that was sent to Finance for payment)
- Records in an alternate format from the version retained as the official record: for example, printouts or extracts from enterprise systems such as FAST or Banner;
- Announcements, broadcast emails, "cc" or FYI emails, or other documents (electronic or hard copy) kept only for convenience or information
- Insignificant information items concerning routine administrative or operational matters, for example, routine email exchanges to schedule or confirm meetings or events
- Advertising and promotional materials received from suppliers
- Extra copies of University publications or blank forms
- Announcements of social events
- Copies created for convenience/reference purposes
- Email conveying an attachment (providing it doesn’t add value to the attachment)
- Personal messages
- Simple messages reflecting commonplace interactions (e.g., )
- Drafts and revisions that are not needed to document decisions and associated approvals*
This list isn’t exhaustive, so you should contact the University Records Manager for assistance when you are unsure if records are transitory or not.
*Offices responsible for drafting legal documents, policy, budgets, standards, guidelines or procedures might need to track the evolution of the final product. These offices may need to keep various drafts, research and working materials in order that the final product be understood.
Who can apply this schedule?
You can! It is everyone’s responsibility to vet records for transitory material on an ongoing basis. You simply need to use your judgment to determine whether a record is, or is not, transitory. Destroying any transitory records that are relevant to a FIPPA request or legal discovery hold are prohibited.
What is not a transitory record?
A record’s content and context determines whether it is transitory, not its format or storage medium. If an email, significant draft, or other record documents substantive administrative or operational business, (e.g., how a particular decision was reached, the history of an issue, etc.) then the record is non-transitory and must be kept in accordance with the university records schedule.
Examples of non-transitory records:
- Work unit activities documentation (e.g., work schedules, assignments, etc.)
- Useful information that helps explain the history of a relationship, decision or project
- Drafts or revisions with information about a decision or associated approvals that is unavailable elsewhere (e.g., directions to change a proposal and recommend a different course of action)
- A final report with recommendations
- Formal communication about official business (e.g. Board decisions, Executive material, financial documents, legal records, etc.)
- Policies and directives
- Decision records, instructions, and advice
- Official meeting agendas and minutes
- Documentation of a policy matter or how a case was managed
- Documentation of initiation, authorization, or completion of business transactions
- Documentation that is evidence of a significant action (e.g., verification or approval to proceed)
- Records of historical value such as photographs or videos
Why managing transitory records is important
By promptly removing transitory records on an ongoing basis, employees are better able to identify, file, and retrieve key records from their office recordkeeping system, mitigating risk to the organization. The university also avoids unnecessary costs for storing and processing transitory records.
Destruction approval is not required when destroying transitory records because every university employee can and should dispose of transitory records as a regular routine. Contact the University Records Manager if you need assistance in assessing such cases.
Transitory digital records
The definition of transitory records also applies to data found in or derived from the university’s digital information systems, including enterprise systems and e-mail.
Data files exported from information systems and used only for a limited time to support routine system functions in other systems are transitory records. For example, data exported from FAST and used in other systems for automatic verification of student enrolment or to support “autofill” functionality in data entry screens are transitory records.
Similarly, data extracts, reports, or printouts from databases which duplicate content of those databases are transitory records. However, if the extracted data becomes part of another administrative activity, edited or altered during this activity, then the data becomes part of the records of that activity. For example, data extracted from the student records system and added to the system used by academic advisors when advising students becomes part of the university’s academic advising records and is not transitory.
Transitory records, FIPPA, and legal holds
As with official university records, transitory records are subject to FIPPA and legal discovery. When a FIPPA access request is received, any transitory records that are responsive to the request must not be destroyed until the request has been processed and any appeal period has elapsed. Similarly, transitory records related to actual or pending litigation or government investigation must not be destroyed. This restriction begins from the moment any employee gains knowledge that legal action or a government investigation is reasonably foreseeable, and remains in effect until removed by the University.