129  Records Retention and Disposal of Records

Approved by President
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division: Business and Finance
Responsible Office:  Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management
Responsible Officer:  Assistant Vice President, Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management

I. Purpose

This policy sets forth the records retention schedule and procedures for disposal of records for the University as approved by the State Public Records Commission. The Records Management Division of the Department of General Services, by direction of the Public Records Commission, is the primary records management agency for State government and directs the disposition of all records.

II. Scope

The schedule and procedures apply to all units of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University).

III. Definitions

The following definitions comport with the definitions found in Tennessee Public Records Commission Rule: 

A.  Records. Records shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, microfilms, electronic data processing files and output, sound recordings, or other material regardless of physical form or characteristics made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency. For the purpose of this policy, records are only those items defined as such by the Commission rules.

B.  Permanent Records. Those records which have permanent administrative, fiscal, historical, or legal value.

C.  Temporary Records. Those records or materials which can be disposed of in a short period of time as being without value in documenting the functions of an agency. Temporary records will be scheduled for disposal by requesting approval from the Public Records Commission utilizing a Records Disposition Authorization.

D.  Confidential Public Records. Any public record which has been designated confidential by statute and includes information or matters or records considered to be privileged and any aspect of which access by the general public has been generally denied.

E.  Records of Archival Value. Any public record which may promote or contribute toward the preservation and understanding of historical, cultural, or natural resources of the State of Tennessee.

F.  Essential Records. Any public records essential to the resumption or continuation of operations, to the recreation of the legal and financial status of government in the state, or to the protection and fulfillment of obligations to citizens of the state.

G.  Records Management. Records management shall mean the application of management techniques to the creation, utilization, maintenance, retention, preservation, and disposal of records in order to reduce costs and improve efficiency of record keeping. It shall include records retention schedule development, essential records protection, files management and information retrieval systems, microfilm information systems, correspondence and word processing management, records center, forms management, analysis and design, and reports and publications management.

H.  Disposition. The preservation of the original records in whole or in part, preservation by photographic or other reproduction processes, or outright destruction of the records.

I.  Records Disposition Authorization. Records Disposition Authorization (RDA) shall mean the official document utilized by an agency head to request authority for the disposition of records. The Public Records Commission shall determine and order the proper disposition of state records through the approval of Records Disposition Authorizations.

J.  Working Papers. Those records created to serve as input for final reporting documents, including electronic data processed records, and/or computer output microfilm, and those records which become obsolete immediately after agency use or publication.

K.  Records Creation. The recording of information on paper, printed forms, punched cards, tape, disk, or any information transmitting media. It shall include preparation of forms, reports, state publications, and correspondence.

IV. Disposal of Records

A.  Disposal of records must be approved by the Public Records Commission. No records may be destroyed unless and until meeting the criteria of this policy and Public Records Commission rules.

B.  Unless specified otherwise, or otherwise required by law, records may be imaged, microfilmed, or electronically reproduced and the paper copy destroyed upon verification of an archival quality reproduction. The microfilm, image, or electronic record will then be retained for the balance of the indicated retention period.

C.  No record shall be destroyed, however, so long as it pertains to any pending legal case, claim, or action; or to any federal or state audit until such actions have been concluded.

1.  State records have been approved for disposal by state-approved methods:

a.  Shredding;

b.  Recycling;

c.  Purge (paper & electronic).

2.  Any record designated confidential shall be so treated in the maintenance, storage and disposition of such confidential records. These records shall be destroyed in such a manner that they cannot be read, interpreted, or reconstructed.

D.  Unless specifically approved by the University records officer, any records which reflect permanent retention should be maintained by means other than paper after verification of an archival quality electronic reproduction. After verification, the paper copies will be destroyed.

V. Records Officers

A.  Each academic and administrative unit must designate a records officer who will have the authority and responsibility to retain and dispose of records in accordance with approved records disposition authorizations.

B.  Prior to the destruction of any records, the records officer must determine if the action should be delayed due to audit or litigation requirements.

C.  Specific records pertaining to current or pending litigation or investigation must be retained until all questions are resolved. See Policy 125 Litigation Holds. These specific records can be retained in a suspense file, while all other records not under pending investigation shall be disposed of in accordance with established statewide and MTSU Records Disposition Authorizations (RDAs).

D.  Records officers should establish and apply retention schedules for records in their custody that may not be specifically addressed in this policy.

VI. Certificate of Records Destruction

A.  The Certificate of Records Destruction form should be used in order to better track the volume of records destroyed and to insure that records have met the criteria necessary for destruction.

B.  Certificate of Records Destruction forms must be used when destroying public or confidential records that are not destroyed during a scheduled purge of out-of-date documents and/or records which should be done on an annual basis. Certificates shall be held at the institution.

VII. Records Retention Schedules

A.  The Statewide (SW) and University Records Destruction Authorization (RDA) Classifications indicated below provide greater detail concerning the records covered and include the schedule by which records must be retained and/or destroyed.

B.  Notwithstanding the stated retention period, should such period conflict with federal or state law or regulation, the period of longer retention shall apply.

VIII. Statewide RDA’s:

A.  SW01: Accounting Journal Vouchers and Deposit Slips. Documents relating to accounts receivables and deposits with supporting documentation.

B.  SW02: Accounting Reports. Documents relating to monthly accounting reports.

C.  SW03: Human Resources Employee Information Documents. Documents pertaining to office personnel locator information, supervisory/employee information, and separated employee records. Separated employee records are retained for a period of ten (10) years. Records covered under SW19 Active Employee Files shall not be destroyed under this RDA.

D.  SW04: Employee Medical Records. Documents relating to confidential employee medical records; may include diagnostic items such as test results, pictures, and x-rays. Records covered under SW19 Active Employee Files, SW09 Attendance and Leave Records, or SW03 Human Resources Employee Information Documents shall not be destroyed under this RDA.

E.  SW06: Boards and Commissions Documents. For the purposes of this RDA, this is applicable to documents or recordings related to meetings of the MTSU Board of Trustees and its subcommittees. Records include, but are not limited to, minutes/accounts of proceeding actions taken, agendas, copies of reports, exhibits, and announcements.

F.  SW07: Travel Authorization Files. Documents relating to requests and authorizations for in‐state and out‐of‐state travel and related correspondence, including cost estimates for travel.

G.  SW08: Commissioner's Subject Files. For purposes of this RDA, Commissioner means the President and Executive Staff means all persons employed at the Vice President level. Documents relating to all areas of the President and his/her executive staff in the transaction of official business.

H.  SW09: Attendance and Leave Records. Documents relating to attendance and leave, including correspondence such as notice of holidays and hours worked. Records covered under SW19 Active Employee Files, SW04 Employee Medical Records, or SW03 Human Resources Employee Information Document shall not be destroyed under this RDA.

I.  SW10: Real Property Lease Files. Documents relating to the lease space in which various state agencies and departments are housed.

J.  SW11: Internal Audit Reports and Working Papers. Documents relating to internal audit reports and working papers generated by internal auditors to document investigations and/or audit reports conducted internally that are submitted to the President, the Board of Trustees, the Comptroller of the Treasury, and other parties.

K.  SW12: Contracts. Documents relating to contracts between state agencies and vendors. Records includes a copy of the final contract, Requests for Proposals (RFP) documents, Requests for Information (RFI) documents, bid evaluation documents, statements of work, deliverable documentation, change order documentation, correspondence, and other related documents.

L.  SW14: Discrimination Harassment Investigation Files. Documents relating to discrimination and workplace harassment investigations.

M.  SW15: Annual Report Working Papers. Working paper documents relating to the annual reports prepared by the University.

N.  SW16: Temporary Records. This RDA covers temporary records unless covered by another specific RDA. Under no circumstance will documents of fiscal, legal, or historic value be considered temporary records.

O.  SW17: Working Papers. For the purpose of the RDA, working papers are those records that have no evidential or informational value once an action has been completed and do not relate to significant steps taken in preparing the final record. The records resulting from the working papers are then governed by its RDA. Working papers do not include records that have evidential or informational value that are needed to support the final record. Under no circumstance may documents of fiscal, legal, or historic value be considered working papers. This RDA does not apply to SW15 Annual Report, SW18 Budget, or SW11 Internal Audit working papers. This RDA covers all other working papers unless superseded by another specific RDA.

P.  SW18: Budget Papers. Documents relating to budget working papers and budget requests used to assist in the preparation of budgets and to justify requests to the Department of Finance and Administration as well as copies of official budget requests submitted to the Department of Finance and Administration for recommendations to be presented for final approval.

Q.  SW19: Active Employee Files. These files include, but are not limited to, Personnel File Audit Checklist, Request for Personnel Action Form, Employment Application, W‐4 Form, Direct Deposit Authorization, Drug‐Free Workplace Policy, Memo for the Operation of Motor Vehicles by State Employees, Acceptable Use Policy Network Access Rights and Obligations User Agreement Acknowledgement, Performance Document‐Job Plan and Employee Insurance and Benefits File Audit Checklist. Records of employees who have separated from the University are to be retained pursuant to SW03 which specifies a retention period of ten (10) years.

R.  SW20: Fiscal Administrative Documents. Files may include documents of fiscal value not covered by another Statewide RDA or Agency Specific RDA. (Examples: receipt documents, invoices, purchase orders, inventory records, payment documentation, space assignment documentation, warranties, internal bookkeeping documentation, and balance sheets.)

S.  SW21: Grants. This RDA may apply to any Grant Files not covered by a specific RDA. Files included in this record series may include any documents pertaining to grants, such as applications, contracts, invoices, asset documentation, monitoring documentation, evaluations, photographs, reports, close‐out documents, and correspondence.

T.  SW22: Internal Policies and Procedures. Official record copy of the policies, procedures, or rules. One (1) copy of the policy, procedure, or rule will be kept by the issuing entity for retention/reference.

U.  SW23: Credit Card and Purchasing Card (p-Card) Documents. Documents relating to the issuing and use of state issued credit cards and purchasing cards (P‐Cards).

V.  SW25: Administrative Documents – Internal Policies and Procedures. Documents that relate to the day‐to‐day administration of internal policies, procedures, and rules. This does not include the official record copy of the policies, procedures, or rules which is covered by SW22.

W.  SW26: Incident Reports. Records of incidents/accidents occurring on State controlled property, involving State personnel or members of the general public or State owned materials. A copy of the incident reports involving injuries to State employees are to be included in the employee’s medical file and covered under SW04 Employee Medical Records.

X.  SW27: Request for Proposal Documents – Not Selected. Final submitted bid documents that were not awarded the contract. These fall under three (3) categories: Unsuccessful: bids met criteria but were not the best bid; Non-responsive: bids that did not follow directions and thus disqualified; and Rejected: bids that were not submitted by the set deadline for submission.

Y.  SW28: Employment Application – Not Selected Candidates. Application documents, hiring information, job registers, and resumes of candidates that were not selected for the position. Records include applications for full-time, part-time, temporary, and unpaid, such as internships. These fall under three (3) categories: Unsuccessful: applicant met criteria but were not hired; Non-responsive: applicants that did not submit required material or respond back to attempted communication; and Rejected: applications that were not submitted by the set deadline for submission or failed to meet minimum requirements.

Z.  SW29: Affirmative Action Compliance Records. Affirmative Action Program records and any supporting documentation related to recruitment, selection, and advancement of employees that may be used to show compliance with federal Affirmative Action rules and regulations.

AA.  11068: State Owned Real Property. Records may include, but are not limited to: Warranty Deeds to and/or from the State, maps, drawings, plot layouts, premises land leases, appraisals, surveys, environmental assessments, photographs, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Web Site, and any other documents chronicling the history, sale, or purchase of State owned property.

BB.  11170. Student National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA/NJCAA), Patient, and Academic Second Opportunity Records. Records include, but are not limited to, athletic files including NCAA and NJCAA eligibility and related files, student patient files, and Academic Second Opportunity applications.

IX. Institutional RDA’s:

A.  Student Records.

1.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, specifically requires institutions to maintain records of requests and disclosures of personally identifiable information except for defined directory information and requests from students to review their own records.

a.  The records of disclosures and requests for disclosures are considered part of the students’ education records; therefore, these records must be retained as long as the education records to which they refer are retained by the University.

b.  FERPA requires that no record for which there is a pending request to review be destroyed.

2.  Student Miscellaneous Records. Records in this category are covered under SW16 Temporary Records. These records should be maintained until they are no longer of value to the University and should be disposed of according to content. Best practices for the retention and destruction of academic records should be followed. These records include, but are not limited to:

a.  All records of applicants who do not enter the University;

b.  The following records of applicants who enter the University;

(1)  grade reports (Registrar’s copies);

(2)  registration forms;

(3)  social security certificates;

(4)  teacher certifications (University only);

(5)  transcript requests (student);

(6)  audit authorizations;

(7)  pass/fail requests;

(8)  changes of course (add/drop);

(9)  credit/no credit approvals;

(10) enrollment verifications (logs or lists);

(11) applications for graduation;

(12) examination papers and answer sheets;

(13) academic advisor files;

(14) class schedules (student);

(15) personal data information forms;

(16) letters of recommendation;

(17) student disciplinary files (for matters resulting in a finding of no violations).

3. 10152: Student Information Records: Retention five (5) years

Records that are not protected as part of the student education record. These records should be maintained until they are no longer of value to the University and should be disposed of according to content. Best practices for the retention and destruction of academic records should be followed.

These records include, but are not limited to, individual office or department files, entrance examination reports, transcripts (high school, other colleges) foreign student forms, graduation authorizations, advance placement records, applications for admission or readmission, credit by exam forms, placement records, transfer credit evaluations, student ledger cards/registration system receipts, tuition and fee charges, AAPP scan sheets and essay booklets, examination papers and answer sheets, athletic department files, campus health clinic records.

4. 11169: Student Education Record. Current Retention: Permanent.

These records contain the official education record of students attending the University and include, but are not limited to:

a.  academic records (includes narrative evaluations, competency assessments);

b.  change of grade records;

c.  financial aid transcripts;

d.  class lists (original grade sheets or cards);

e.  permanent student cards;

f.  statistical data (enrollment, grades, racial/ethnic, degree);

g.  student disciplinary files resulting in expulsion or suspension;

h.  student Athletic Files including NCAA/NJCAA eligibility, and related files.

B. 10149: Alumni Development Files/Donor Gifts and Contributions/Endowment and Living Trust Agreements. Current Retention: Permanent.  

These records include, but are not limited to:

1.  Alumni Development Files. Current and historical data including alumni information, solicitation, pledge and contributions data, and all related documents.

2.  Donor Gifts and Contributions. Donor Recognition Committee, Donor Director of Private Giving, Fund Raising Report, Philanthropy Awards, and all related documents.

3.  Endowment and Living Trust Agreements, and all related documents.

C. 11171: Trademark, Copyright, and Patent Records; Printed Materials and Publications: Permanent. 

These records include, but are not limited to:

1.  Trademark, Copyright, and Patent Records. Forms, documents, and materials relating to applications for and granting of trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

2  Printed Materials and Publications. Items which have permanent administrative, physical, historical or legal value, such as University class schedules, graduation lists, commencement program (one [1] copy), University catalogs, brochures, etc.

Retain two (2) copies in University library archive.

Forms: 

Certificate of Records Destruction

Revisions: none.

References: Executive Order 38; Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974; Policy 125 Litigation Holds.