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Policy: II.C.1x2 (inactive)

Issued: June 24, 1994

Owner: Agency Records Administrator

Latest Revision: February 8, 2000



For Current Policies:
Policy Table of Contents


1.0 Purpose

This policy describes the general guidelines for retention and disposition of official university records.

2.0 Policy [Top]

2.1 Overview

Records retention and disposition at the University is important for many reasons.  Some major considerations in records retention are:

2.2 Authorization

State law and University policy prohibit individuals and departments from destroying, discarding, selling, or giving away public records without proper authorization.  Departments wishing to destroy records that are no longer needed should first search the State's General Records Schedules (available electronically on PUBLIC, or in hard copy from an Agency Records Administrator) to see if an applicable series description in one of the schedules can be located.  If there is an applicable series, and the unwanted records are older than the state-mandated retention period given in the schedule, the office should call an Agency Records Administrator (in Alderman Library and General Medical Center Clinical Services) to obtain a blank RM-3 form, a Certificate of Records Destruction or access the University of Virginia Forms Directory online at http://uvaforms.virginia.edu/cgi-local/formsDir.cgi where forms and instructions are available and downloadable.  See Procedure 2-32 for instructions for completing this form.  If no series can be found that exactly fits the unwanted records, the department should consult the appropriate Agency Records Administrator; there is a procedure for preparing a records schedule for unique records that are not covered in the General Records Schedules.

Once the department has received an approved record retention schedule, the next step is to file the companion RM-3 form with the Agency Records Administrator and receive an approved copy authorizing destruction, before any records may be destroyed.

See also Procedures 2-32, "Preparation of Certificate of Records Disposal".

2.3 Organization

Virginia Public Records Act authorizes the Library of Virginia to conduct a program of "public records management and preservation" that is "applicable to all public officers and employees."  The University's records management program is part of this state-wide program.

The Archives and Records Division of the Library of Virginia is responsible for the operation of the program; it is directed by the State Records Administrator.  At the University, the Agency Records Administrator for Agency 207 is the Records Manager, Special Collections Department, Alderman Library, and for Agency 209 is the Director, Facilities Services.

2.4 Confidentiality of Records

Financial Policy XV.C.1, "Disclosure of University Records," is the University's statement on releasing University records and information.  This policy defines relevant terms, identifies those records not subject to public release the procedures to be used in disclosing University records and information, and other related matters.  "Disclosure of University Records" includes all official material except two categories-student and medical records.

Policy XV.D.1, "Protecting Privacy Rights of Students" covers the area of student records confidentiality and release.  This policy discusses student rights, the applicable education records, the custodians and locations of such records, procedures for disclosure, enforcement and sanctions, and the annual notice of student rights.

2.5 Federal Requirements

Note:  Federal requirements generally apply only to sponsored research accounts and federally-funded student loan accounts.

The University is required to retain all contract-related records (federal and non-federal) until audited.  As a federal grantee, the University is required to retain all grant-related records for three years or until audited, whichever is longer, except for the following items:

Note:  Often, only the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) knows when particular grants or contracts were audited.  Departments must verify a grant's or contract's audit status with OSP before destroying any related documents.

For the items in the OSP list immediately preceding, the retention period is dated from submission of the final expenditure report; for grants renewed annually, the retention period dates from submission of the annual financial status report.                 

For records under audit, such records should be retained not only until audits of such records are completed, but until all audit findings are fully resolved or negotiated.

The University is required to retain federal student loan fund records for five years after the loan has been assigned, fully repaid, or cancelled.  This requirement applies to Health Professional Student Loans, Nursing Student Loans and National Direct/Defense Student Loans (Perkins).  For specific retention requirements see also Procedure 2-30.

2.6 Retention Period

Financial Records: The following retention requirements generally apply to all financial accounting system accounts, except sponsored research and federally-funded student loan accounts.  Included are payroll, fringe benefit, leave transaction source documents, and the reports resulting from processing such documents. For specifics, see also Procedure 2-30.

Original records or documents:  Current fiscal year, plus three previous years or until audited, whichever is longer. This is a requirement of both central offices and departments, if original documents are held.  NOTE:  THESE  RECORDS MAY NOT BE DESTROYED, EVEN AFTER AN AUDIT HAS BEEN CARRIED OUT, FINDINGS HAVE BEEN RESOLVED,AND THEY ARE MORE THAN FIVE YEARS OLD, UNTIL AN APPROVED "RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSITION SCHEDULE" HAS BEEN OBTAINED. See also Procedure 2-32.

Departmental or convenience copies:  Current year plus one previous year. Certain financial and accounting reports (year-end master general ledger, subsidiary ledger, and open commitment file tapes):  Permanent retention    {Note:  no more permanent ledgers]

Non-financial Records: See also Procedure 2-30.

2.7 Destruction Methods

Once a records retention and disposition schedule has been approved for a series of records, and a certificate of records disposal has been approved, departments may dispose of records by any convenient and economical means, preferably by recycling.  However, confidential records must be completely destroyed by burning, shredding, or pulping under appropriate supervision.  The Library of Virginia has also authorized destruction of confidential records through the University's bonded recycler.

See also Procedure 2-32, "Preparation of Certificate of Records Disposal."

2.8 Microfilming

It is much less expensive to store records for many years than to microfilm them.  The State will not allow the microfilming of records merely for convenience.  To address this issue, the State Library Board has issued "Standards for the Microfilming of Public Records for Archival Retention."  Only records of "sufficient administrative, legal, fiscal, and historical value to warrant their permanent preservation shall be designated permanent records," and only "permanent records" will be approved for microfilming.

Most departments should not microfilm because: 

If departments obtain permission to microfilm records, no central University funds exist to pay for the microfilming; EACH DEPARTMENT MUST BUDGET FOR ITS OWN FILMING.  If the University's Records Administrator and the Library of Virginia approve the department's record retention schedule, the department may request bids for microfilming through Purchasing and Materials Services. The Library of Virginia’s Central Records Management Office maintains a large microfilming operation and will submit bids, if asked.

3.0 Definitions [Top]

Public records
As used in this policy and as defined in the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia, Sections 42.1-76 through 42.1-90), are "all written books, papers, letters, documents, photographs, tapes, microfiche, microfilm, photostats, sound recordings, maps, or other documentary materials or information in any recording medium regardless of physical form or characteristics" including computer-produced materials or information, made or received under the law or in connection with public business conducted by the University.

Public records do NOT include:

Original Documents
As used in this policy, the original document (or the original copy) usually means the top copy or document having the actual typed, handwritten, or computer-generated print and signature on it.  Therefore, photocopy or multiple-form copies are not originals as defined in this policy.  The University's record retention program is primarily directed toward the preservation of original documents.  Where the original has been sent outside the University, we retain the "institutional copy," i.e., that copy designated as the record copy, even though not the original.  Most institutional copies are held in central offices, although many original payroll documents are retained in the originating departments.

4.0 References [Top]

5.0 Approvals and Revisions [Top]

Reviewed by Ervin L. Jordan, Research Archivist, Special Collections, Alderman Library
Reviewed by the Records Adinistrator, Library of Virginia, February 2000.
Previous version in effect from 6/24/94 to 2/8/00 available in policy archive.

Maintained by University Comptroller
© 2000 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia