Districts should create a process for determining when Records should be processed and moved to the Records Retention Center.
In our first 3 articles, we’ve covered 1) making sure that you have the appropriate information on file with TSLAC, 2) identifying, assigning, and documenting Records Management responsibility among District Staff, and 3) establishing a centralized Records Retention Center (RRC).
This edition addresses the establishment of a process for determining when Records should be processed and moved to the Records Retention Center. More than any of the steps we have addressed thus far, this step is primarily driven by the needs of your individual District. Some factors to consider as you assess what would work best for your District include:
- How Often Do You Need Access to the Records?Are the records “active” and retrieved (or subject to retrieval) on a frequent basis, or are they “inactive” and is access only needed on rare occasions? Are the records for current or former employees, current students, or for graduates or withdrawals? If the latter, are they records for recent graduates or withdrawals, or for students who left 20 years ago? Are they personnel records, payroll records, or student transcripts? The type of record will generally drive the level and frequency of access required, which will in turn help you decide where these records should reside.
- Who Needs Access to the Records? The type of record also will help you identify which constituencies may need access to the records. Students may require transcripts, Human Resources may require payroll records, Auditors may require copies of contracts. Understanding the records you have, who may need access to them, and the need to control access by limiting access to the appropriate constituencies will influence your decisions.
- How Are Records Impacting Space Utilization?While you are required to keep records of various types for various retention periods, where you keep them may be driven by the amount of space available to store them. If storage space is limited, moving them to the centralized RRC may make sense to do sooner than later.
- What Makes Sense for Your District?Answering the three questions above will help you identify the process, but there may be other situations or conditions in your District that motivate you to do something different than another District may choose to do. For example, if you are located in a hurricane-prone region, you may choose to migrate records to the RRC sooner than a District that does not face that threat. Think about what is unique to your District and consider those factors in your decision.
Once you have determined the proper schedule and process for migrating records to your RRC, make sure you communicate that effectively to your staff. Developing a formal Policy and Procedure and training appropriate District personnel is one way to help ensure that records migrate as intended.
One final note: as you go about identifying the right process for your District, be on the lookout for hoarders! The tendency to hold on to things because it makes certain users feel more comfortable can negatively impact the integrity of your entire Records Management system. Having records outside of your prescribed process eliminates the benefits a centralized RRC provides and can create unexpected risks when records fall into the wrong hands, can’t be located and produced when requested, or when records exist when they should have been disposed of.
In our next edition, we’ll discuss making processing and moving newly inactive records into the RRC a regular routine.