A good filing system is comprised exclusively of records. Although almost every bit of information we create or receive as University employees, regardless of its paper or electronic format, is considered a record there are some records which should not be filed. We call these records "Material That May Be Disposed of Without A Specific Retention Period."
We define Material That May Be Disposed Of Without A Specific Retention Period as having been created or kept for convenience or reference. It can be destroyed at any time. Common examples of Material That May Be Disposed Of Without A Specific Retention Period include drafts, worksheets, routine replies, extra/duplicate copies of documents, and hardcopy printouts from a database.
Eliminating Material That May Be Disposed Of Without A Specific Retention Period from filing systems results in faster retrieval of information, faster filing, and increased ease of disposal. Eliminating Material That May Be Disposed Of Without A Specific Retention Period reduces the need for filing space, equipment and supplies.
Identifying Material That May Be Disposed Of Without A Specific Retention Period
The following questions may help identify material that may be disposed of without a specific retention period:
- Are all publications or reports received necessary? Who uses them? How long are they needed?
- Are all "information only" copies necessary? Is it really necessary to file them once they have been reviewed? Can we send them out through email and have the receiver delete their copy once they have read it?
- Are all extra copies necessary? Is it really necessary to keep duplicate sets of documents?
- Are all email distributions necessary? Have the copies been requested? Will they really be read? How can we ensure they are deleted once they have been read?
Filing reference materials and miscellaneous records
Although it should not be integrated into the major office filing system, Material That May Be Disposed Of Without A Specific Retention Period that is created or kept for reference may be managed as follows:
Published reference materials: Published reference materials are best maintained in a centralized office library.
Stocks of publications: Stocks of publications are best maintained in a centralized storage/publication area. Publications include maps, brochures and newsletters.
Miscellaneous notices or memoranda: Miscellaneous notices or memoranda that do not relate to the functional responsibility of the department may be maintained separately and discarded when superseded or no longer needed.
Blank forms: Blank forms are best filed together in a specifically designated cabinet or file drawer. They should not be integrated into the actual filing system.