What is a records retention program and why is it important?
A records retention program is defined as: An administrative program and set of practices by which an organization establishes to regulate and manage its records, both paper and digital, throughout their lifecycles to ensure efficiency and economy in their creation, use, handling, control, maintenance, and disposition.
If records retention is so important, what will it do?
- Provide accurate, timely, and complete information for efficient decision making in the management and operation of the university
- Process recorded information as efficiently as possible
- Provide information and record at the lowest possible cost
- Maximize service to the user of the records
- Dispose/transfer of records no longer needed
In addition, a records management program will:
- Reduce the space for records by either transferring inactive records to an off-site and less expensive storage facility or server, or by destruction, or by transferring records that have long-term value to the University Archives.
- Help the institution upgrade its recordkeeping systems, both paper and digital so that information retrieval is enhanced, which improves office efficiency and productivity.
- State / federal law and regulations include requirements to maintain certain records, regardless of form, to retain them for specified periods of time, and to report certain information to the government. Failure to comply may result in fines, penalties, or other legal consequences.
- Lawsuits are often determined by what information is kept by the institution. Thus, there is incentive to be careful about what records are retained and for how long.
- A records management program serves as evidence that an organization has an official policy for disposing of its information and that the policy is done in the normal course of business.
- A comprehensive program is needed to protect an organization’s vital records from loss due to disaster or another cause, as well as maintaining the integrity, authenticity, and confidentiality of those records.
- Help assist managers and executives to access of needed information to make good decisions.
- Historical records can help with background information, assist current decision-making, as well as to enhance future planning and highlight marketing programs emphasizing the university’s history and traditions.
- When records and files are poorly kept, the pride and moral of the employees about their workplace may suffer, including the influencing perceptions of users and the public.