Records management at Arizona State University

Records Management is a compliance activity mandated by Arizona public records laws that requires all Arizona government agencies to retain and/or destroy official ASU records in compliance with specific retention schedules. These requirements are in addition to any applicable ASU policies. University Archives, in cooperation with ASU Surplus Property and the Arizona Department of Library Archives and Public Records, has been charged with coordinating the ASU Records Management Program since 1987.

Archives staff members assist ASU administrative and academic offices by helping ASU offices associate their records with the correct Records Retention and Disposition Schedules (RRDS). RRDS serve as the legal authorization to destroy public records. ASU Surplus Property provides transportation services for moving university records to their warehouses, where records will be temporarily stored and then destroyed in accordance with the approved RRDS. Detailed instructions for sending records to Surplus for temporary storage or destruction are available at the Property Control Systems Policy Manual PCS-703.

Records Schedules (RRDS)

In order to temporarily store records off-site or to destroy records, any ASU office must consult an approved RRDS that addresses the specific kinds of records to be stored and when they can be legally destroyed. Since most offices produce very similar kinds of records (e.g. correspondence files or general administrative files like Absence Reports) a series of "generic" RRDS have been approved by the Arizona Records Management Division for use by any Arizona institution of higher education.

In rare circumstances some ASU offices produce records that are unique to their function and not described in the “generic” RRDS. In order to store these records off-site or destroy them a special or "customized" RRDS must be drafted for the unique records of your office. Archives staff can help you draft an RRDS and send it through the approval process. Approval of a draft RRDS takes at least 6-8 weeks, but once approved it serves as your continuing authority to store or destroy records.

Records storage and destruction

Temporary off-site storage for non-archival records is available at Surplus Property, and an approved RRDS is required for accessing temporary records storage space at Surplus. Once you have an approved RRDS see the section PCS-703 for procedures on how to send materials for temporary storage.

Destruction of university records can be completed in your office or at ASU Surplus Property in compliance with an approved RRDS. Detailed instructions for destroying university records are available at PCS-703. The Certificate of Records Destruction Form is required for lawful destruction.

Permanent storage of university records is only available from University Archives for selected materials of enduring value as designated by the University Archivist. If you have materials that might be considered historic or archival, please contact the University Archivist for help identifying and preserving those historic materials.

When you contact us we will ask you:

  • What office are you calling from?
  • Do you need to destroy records or send them for temporary off-site storage?
  • Have you compared your records to the generic RRDS for All Institutions of Higher Education cited above?
  • If you don't have an RRDS or aren't sure, what kinds of records do you need to destroy or send for temporary storage and how old are they?

Frequently asked questions

Are all records actually considered public records?
Although the laws of the State of Arizona include a very broad definition of public records (A.R.S. 41-151.18), there are many documents that are not public records. Duplicate copies of virtually any document produced in the course of your work are not public records, unless you have marked them or performed an official duty using them that changed their content (e.g. your signature on a signature line). Your personal copy of any ASU publication produced by another office is not a public record; however, the first copy of a publication produced in your office would be considered the "official" copy or "copy of record" and would be a public record. University Archives keeps a comprehensive set of university publications and you may send one "copy of record" of each of your publications to Archives to satisfy retention requirements for ASU publications. Remember that the phrase "public record" in records management refers to public or governmental ownership of a document rather than issues relating to confidentiality. Virtually all public records are open for inspection by any citizen, although there are certain classes of records that are deemed confidential by statute or ASU policy. If you receive a request for inspection of ASU records and you are unsure regarding confidentiality, the size of the request or whether service fees can be charged, contact ASU General Counsel.

What is an RRDS?
RRDS, or Records Retention and Disposition Schedules, are documents that describe the kinds of records produced in your office, and how long those records must be kept in your office or retained off-site before they can be legally destroyed. An RRDS serves as the official authorization to destroy records on an ongoing basis, and must bear the signature of the Director of the Department of Library Archives and Public Records to be valid. RRDS may be revised and updated as necessary but each revision must be approved by the state before it can be used to authorize destruction of records.

When should I pack files for storage?
We recommend packing records at the end of each fiscal year (every July) so that records produced during a single year are retained and destroyed together.

When should I destroy records?
You should always destroy records immediately after the end of the required retention period UNLESS there is a pending university appeal or pending litigation related to the records. In those instances you are required to retain the materials until the appeal or litigation is completed. NEVER destroy related records after you have been informed of pending litigation or appeal. Questions regarding litigation holds can be directed to ASU General Counsel.

Where can I get Certificate of Records Destruction Forms?
Certificate of Records Destruction Forms are available for download.  Remember that the certificate requires you to refer to the RRDS that authorizes destruction of your records. The certificates now require the ASU records officer to sign off, so complete the form and send it to the University Archivist. The Archivist then reviews and signs the form, authorizes the destruction and forwards it to the Arizona Records Management Division.

Who can retrieve materials that I've already sent to Surplus Property for temporary storage?
Contact ASU Surplus Property at Surplus-Q@asu.edu for information about retrieving records that have already been sent there for temporary storage. If you have sent archival materials to University Archives, contact Archives staff for assistance.

How do I handle electronic records?
Electronic records are required to be maintained for exactly the same length of time as paper records performing the same function or bearing the same record series title, unless the applicable RRDS identifies separate retention periods for each format. For example, if there is a RRDS in force that requires hardcopy student residency applications to be kept for three years and you convert this process to an electronic database, the database files containing the residency applications must be maintained for three years and must be accessible, authentic and useable. Scanning or imaging of public records requires approval by the Arizona Records Management Division before the system is implemented. Apply for approval with a Request for Document Imaging of Public Records.

Why do I have to do all this paperwork?
Because you are an employee of the State of Arizona, you have a legal obligation to preserve records so they can be made available to Arizona citizens (unless they are deemed confidential by law or ASU policy). Records management programs serve as a system for managing records that balances the need for public access against the need for efficient office management. Records management saves taxpayer dollars by insuring that expensive office space is not filled with obsolete records, and it also guarantees that a record of the public business is available for inspection for a reasonable period of time.

In addition, A.R.S. 41-151.14 requires that all state agencies establish and maintain a records management program and comply with the regulations, standards and procedures established by the Arizona Department of Library Archives and Public Records. A.R.S. 38-421 identifies unauthorized destruction of public records as a felony.