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Policy: II.C.1x3 (inactive)

Issued: June 24, 1994

Owner: Agency Records Administrator

Latest Revision: June 29, 2001



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 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 the University Records Manager (in Alderman) to obtain a blank RM-3 form (a Certificate of Records Destruction), or access the University of Virginia Forms Directory online where forms and instructions are available and downloadable (Search under "Library" or "RM-3").  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.

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, Health Information Services.

This policy does not address the retention of medical records. Questions regarding these records should be addressed to:
Medical Records: Health Information Services, Health Sciences Center

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 STU-002, "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

As a federal grantee, the University is required to retain all expenditure related records (federal and non-federal) for four 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, National Direct/Defense Student Loans (Perkins), and Direct Loans.  For specific retention requirements see also Records Management at the University of Virginia.

2.6 Records Retention

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 procurement, payroll, fringe benefit, leave transaction source documents, and the reports resulting from processing such documents.
For additional information, see also Records Management at the University of Virginia and the "Descriptions for Records Series found in State Agency General Schedules".

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. With the implementation of the Oracle Integrated System, departments will retain most original source documentation along with copies of source documents for certain "high risk" transactions (See Definitions). Original documents for high risk transactions will continue to be forwarded to Accounts Payable for review. In an environment of decentralized records retention, department managers will have much greater authority, and must accept increased accountability, for processing transactions. This change will also be evidenced by a shift from pre-audit to post-audit of transactions. For additional information and guidance see Policy I.A.1, "Internal Controls".

Note: These records may not be destroyed, under any circumstances, until an approved "Records Retention and Disposition Schedule" has been obtained. See section 2.2 "Authorization".

Departmental or convenience copies:  Current year plus one previous year.

Non-financial Records: See also Records Management at the University of Virginia.

2.7 Destruction Methods

General Requirements: All known audits and audit discrepancies regarding records requested for destruction must be settled before the records can be destroyed; all known investigations or court cases involving said records must be resolved before the records can be destroyed. Knowledge of subpoenas, investigations or litigation that reasonably may involve the listed records suspends any disposal or reformatting processes until all issues are resolved. There are penalties under the law for persons destroying records without authorization, and the University can be held liable should a court discover that public records needed in a trial were destroyed without permission.

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 one of the following means, preferably by recycling.  However, confidential records must be completely destroyed under appropriate supervision.  The Library of Virginia has also authorized destruction of confidential records through the University's bonded recycler. For additional information, see also "The Virginia Public Records Management Manual, Chapter 5, Procedures for Destroying Public Records, Methods of Destruction"

Each department has the responsibility for choosing among the approval methods of disposal. The following information is provided to assist departments in selecting a disposal method:

METHOD 1: Recycling
All confidential documents in the department should be stored in a secure area until a sufficient amount warrants transportation by Facilities Management Utilities Department, Recycling Division personnel to a secure University-owned paper recycling container.

METHOD 2: Shredding
All confidential documents in a department should be stored in a secure area until a sufficient amount warrants destruction by a shredder. Once the documents have been shredded, the department should contact Facilities Management Utilities Department, Recycling Division for a pickup of the shredded material.

METHOD 3: Transportation to the regional landfill (Use for non-confidential documents only)
Departmental non-confidential documents may be stored until a sufficient amount warrants transportation to the regional landfill, either by departmental personnel or by Facilities Management.
Arrange for pickup eitherby calling the Facilities Management Operations Help Desk, or by completing an on-line work order.

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. 

High Risk Transactions
As defined by Procurement Services and Internal Audit, high risk transactions are those where an individual could authorize a payment to themselves. Current examples are Petty Cash Custodian Reimbursements and Travel Reimbursements.

Examples of transactions where original documentation would be retained by the department:

4.0 References [Top]

5.0 Approvals and Revisions [Top]

Reviewed by Ervin L. Jordan, University Records Manager, Alderman Library, July 2001.
Reviewed by University Comptroller and Director of Procurement Services, June 2001.
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.
Previous version in effect from 2/8/00 to 6/29/01 available in policy archive.

Maintained by University Comptroller
© 2001 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia