Records Retention Schedules
A Records Retention Schedule is a comprehensive list of the records series maintained by an office. A records series is a grouping of related records created by an office and kept and used together, such as financial records or reports. The retention schedule gives each records series a schedule number, lists what format the records series is in-paper, film or electronic-and tells how long the records series is to be retained, a length of time known as the retention period.
Retention periods on an approved schedule must reflect the value of the information contained in each records series created and maintained by a county office. A records series may have four primary values: administrative, fiscal, historical and legal. These values are defined as follows:
- A record has administrative value if it is needed to conduct the current business of the county office creating it. Administrative value diminishes over time because it is no longer needed for current business.
- A record has fiscal value if it is used in accounting for public funds. Records having fiscal value must be retained at least until accounting records have been audited. Records of activities funded with a combinations of federal funds often must be retained longer than records pertaining solely to county funds.
- A record has historical value if it has continuing historical value to Montgomery County and its citizens.
- A record has legal value if it documents or protects the legal rights of the county office that created it. Records possessing legal value should be retained until the legal rights or obligations to which they pertain expire.
Besides these primary values, county records may have the following secondary values:
- A record has evidential value if it is needed as evidence of past office actions.
- A record has informational value if it gives information on how and why an office took the action it did.
Once a record's value has been determined, it can be decided whether its retention should be short term, long term or permanent. The retention periods for many county records are defined by the Ohio Revised Code or federal law. Others may have retention periods based on commonly accepted standards within each office's professional discipline, such as medical board standards or Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures (GAAP). It is the office's responsibility to remain up to date with changes in laws and standards concerning the records in their possession.
In cases where there is no defined laws or standards for a record's retention period, the County Records and Information Manager in cooperation with the Prosecuting Attorney's Office will analyze the record to find the appropriate retention period. Often this can be done by using the publications and advice of the Local Government Records Program of the Ohio History Connection or by seeking the assistance of other records managers in the state.