At times we can feel overwhelmed by the number of emails, chats, and other records that cross our desks— both physical and digital. A good way to keep on top of records overload is to set aside a day at least once a semester to clean up your records. A records clean up day is a very practical and hands-on activity designed to boost team building while managing information.
Why should my department clean up records?
The goal of a records cleanup day is more than simply tidying up your department records.
- ensures compliance with the university’s authorized transitory records schedule and university records retention schedules (under development)
- minimizes legal exposure since retaining records longer than required is as much a legal liability as destroying records prematurely
- helps to avoid a privacy breach
- eliminates duplication, frees up space in filing cabinets and on the network
- reduces your office footprint and storage
- increases work productivity and efficiency in information search and retrieval
Prepare for a records clean up day
- schedule your clean up day with UFV's RIM Manager. Support will be available for planning the activity and throughout the day from the RIM Office
- create a team of individuals and designate a lead person to coordinate and oversee the activity
- notify staff about the day and send periodic reminders
- if necessary, inform the University community of the day/time when your unit will be closed to conduct the clean up
- take a snapshot of your department drive record keeping system (folders). If applicable, assign employee responsibilities to each folder. Submit this plan to the RIM Manager
- pull boxes from campus storage (if possible)
- make a note of your department drive and physical storage capacity (including number of boxes in campus storage) pre-clean up
- ensure employees have remote access to department drive (physical records clean up can be postponed until safe return to campus due to COVID 19)
- review the appropriate unviersity records schedules and resources on the Secretariat website
- invite UFV's records and information manager to join your event to provide support
What to do on the day of clean up
- meet with all staff; at the beginning of the activity, UFV's RIM manager will provide them with detailed instructions on how to conduct the cleanup
- distribute copies of, or direct staff to, the appropriate records schedules and guidelines from the RIM Office
- if applicable, direct staff to the appropriate folder they will be responsible for cleaning up on the department drive.
- ensure staff review file drawers/cabinets (if possible), personal and shared drives, and email folders to identify records with transitory status. If possible, remember to consider records already in storage.
- You don’t need to list or seek authorization to destroy transitory records.
Post clean up day
- measure your department drive and physical storage capacity post-clean up
- Submit measurement to RIM Manager
- Provide feedback on activity to RIM Manager
Never destroy records that pertain to an ongoing or reasonably anticipated investigation, legal action or proceeding, Freedom of Information (FOIPPA) request, audit or program review, even if they are transitory records. UFV is in the process of developing a formal records retention schedule. All records outside the scope of transitory should be preserved until further notice.
Our department has been following a system of deleting university records after X amount of time. Why should we stop this practice?
Most records created by offices are not worth keeping permanently: only 5-10 percent of an organization’s records have enduring value. In order to determine which records can be destroyed, it is necessary to establish formal records retention schedules. Records Retention Schedule is a control document that describes the records at a series level and indicates the length of time each series should be retained as semi-active prior to final disposition; and the final disposition of each series. This document serves as the legal authorization for the disposal of records at the University. UFV does not have an official legal records retention schedule. As part of the RIM program, a records retention schedule will be built, and cleaning up transitory records is the first step to uncovering valuable university records to be scheduled appropriately for disposal or preservation. It is important that university records are preserved until UFV develops a legal records retention system, otherwise, university records are at risk of destruction without knowing:
- where is the valuable information?
- who is the primary or secondary office of responsiblity for the record series?
- what is the function of the record series?
- what is the scope of the record series?
- what legal, operational, administrative, and historical factors have been taken into account from an institutional context?
- what is the legal retention rule? How long is it kept for and why?
Answers to these questions will be reflected in UFV's record retention scedule. Retention schedules must be established before destroying any valuable university records. Otherwise, UFV cannot be sure that destruction decisions comply with legal, administrative, or operational requirements to protect information.
All UFV employees are all responsible for ensuring the effective management of university records. Contact UFV's records and information manager to seek support on managing department records.