1. Purpose

This new CUNY Records Retention and Disposition Schedule indicates the minimum length of time that college and University officials must retain their records before the records may be disposed of legally. This new Schedule is a revised edition of the Records Retention and Disposition Schedule originally issued by CUNY in 1993, and it replaces and supersedes the 1993 schedule. It also replaces and supersedes any other retention guidance that college and University officials may have adopted for their records.

All CUNY records must be retained in accordance with the retention periods and guidelines specified in this new Schedule and in any related policies, procedures, guidelines, or directives that CUNY has issued or may issue in the future. See Section 5 of this Introduction for suggestions regarding the disposition of records that no longer need to be retained.

This new Schedule has been adapted from the Records Retention and Disposition Schedule MI-1 issued in 2006 by the State Archives program of the New York State Education Department pursuant to Section 57.25 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law and Part 185, Title 8 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York. In the adaptation process, a great many items in Schedule MI-1 were deleted because of their inapplicability to CUNY, and most of the remaining items in Schedule MI-1 have been edited so that they are more accessible to the CUNY community. The State Archives requires that the retention periods for items prescribed in Schedule MI-1 may not be shortened. In a number of cases, however, CUNY has decided that it is appropriate to lengthen the retention periods in Schedule MI-1 for particular items on this Schedule.

Dozens of individuals within CUNY with knowledge of an extensive range of college and University functions provided valuable input in the preparation of this new Schedule. The new Schedule was approved by the State Archives’ Government Records Services pursuant to 8 NYCCR 185.5(c) in July, 2006.

The purposes of this new Schedule are to:

► Ensure that records are retained as long as needed for administrative, legal, and fiscal purposes;

► Ensure that state and federal records retention requirements are met;

► Ensure that records with enduring historical and other research value are identified and retained permanently; and

► Encourage and facilitate the systematic disposal of unneeded records.

2. Records Management Coordinators at CUNY

Pursuant to Section 57.19 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, CUNY has designated a University Records Management Coordinator to coordinate the proper retention and disposition of records throughout CUNY colleges and at the Central Office. In addition, each CUNY college is responsible for designating a Records Management Coordinator to coordinate the proper retention and disposition of records at the college and to report annually on the disposition of records at the college to the University Records Management Coordinator. The functions of the Records Management Coordinator are separate from those of the Records Access Officer at the college, but all of these functions may be performed by the same individual.

All inquiries about records management at the college should be referred to the Records Management Coordinator, and the Records Management Coordinator at each college will refer questions to the University Records Management Coordinator and the Office of the General Counsel for resolution whenever necessary. The University Records Management Coordinator and the Office of the General Counsel will also be responsible for referring, whenever necessary or appropriate, any questions on records management issues to the State Archives.

3. How to Use This Schedule

3.1 Interpreting Schedule Items

Many of the items on this Schedule are broad and describe the purpose or function of records rather than identify individual documents and forms. Records common to most college and University offices are listed under the General section of this Schedule. More specific items are listed in 35 sections with functional headings (e.g., Academic Affairs, Affirmative Action), which are arranged alphabetically after the General section. Using the Subject Index at the end of this Schedule, college and University officials should match the records in their offices with the descriptions on this Schedule to determine the appropriate retention periods. Records whose content and function are substantially the same as an item described on this Schedule should be considered to be covered by that item. College and University officials should check with their Records Management Coordinator when they are uncertain regarding coverage of a function.

In situations where college and University officials have combined related types of records covered by different items on this Schedule into a single file, it may be impractical to separately apply the retention periods of the various applicable Schedule items to the individual records in the file. In such situations, officials may find it more convenient to dispose of the entire set of records by using the applicable retention item with the longest retention period.

Retention periods on this Schedule apply to one “official” copy designated by the college or the University, regardless of physical form or characteristic (paper, microfilm, computer disk or tape, or other medium), unless otherwise stated. No matter what the medium, college and University officials must ensure that the information will be retained for the specified retention period.

Duplicate copies of records created for administrative convenience, including copies maintained on different media (paper, electronic, etc.), should be disposed of when no longer needed, except where retention is specified elsewhere on this Schedule.

3.2 Unique Item Numbering System

In addition to the consecutive numbering of items within each section of this Schedule, each item is also assigned the unique identifying number provided by the State Archives for the comparable item in Schedule MI-1 from which the CUNY item has been adapted. That number, which appears in brackets [ ], does not change as items are revised or relocated in new editions of Schedule MI-1. In a few instances, CUNY has introduced items that do not have a comparable item in Schedule MI-1, and these items have bracketed numbers such as [CU1], [CU2], etc., in addition to the consecutive numbering of the item within the section. The Subject Index provided at the end of this Schedule refers to items by their unique bracketed numbers.

4. Special Situations

4.1 Legal Actions

Some records may be needed to defend a college and/or the University in legal actions. Records that are identified in such actions must be retained for the entire period of the action even if their retention period has expired. If the retention period has expired by the time the legal action ends, the record must be retained for at least one additional year to resolve any need for the record in an appeal. If the retention period has not expired, the record must be retained for the remainder of the retention period, but not less than one year after the legal action ends. Prior to disposing of records related to or retained for a legal action, college and University officials should consult with their Records Management Coordinator, who will work with the Office of the General Counsel to verify that no legal actions have been initiated that would require longer retention of the records.

4.2 Records That Have Been Microfilmed or Electronically Duplicated

The retention and disposition of the originals of records that have been microfilmed or electronically duplicated is governed by Section 57.29 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law and the State Archives’ procedures. Please contact the Records Management Coordinator at your college for further information prior to beginning a program of microfilming or any other form of records duplication.

4.3 Electronic Records

While items on this Schedule for the most part cover records regardless of the physical form in which they are maintained, electronic records in some subject areas are treated differently. Some electronic records are listed specifically in the Environmental, Health Services, and Public Safety sections. In addition, the Electronic Data Processing section has been greatly expanded to cover a number of record items not covered by the previous edition of this Schedule. The State Archives has established regulations related to electronic records (Section 185.8, 8NYCRR), and you should contact the Records Management Coordinator at your college if you have any questions or problems related to the requirements of these regulations or if you need additional information on electronic records specifically listed in the subject areas mentioned above.

Generally, records transmitted through e-mail systems have the same retention periods as records in other formats that are related to the same function or activity. E-mail records should be scheduled for disposition in conjunction with any other records related to that function or activity. College and University officials may delete, purge, or destroy e-mail records provided that the records have been retained for the minimum retention period established in this Schedule and are not being retained for a legal action or audit. Transitory messages may be destroyed in a timely manner, using item no. 18 [18] in the General section of this Schedule. Contact the Records Management Coordinator at your college for additional information.

Electronic records created specifically for distribution via the Internet are considered publications, and are covered by item no. 11 [11] in the General section.

4.4 Drafts and Working Papers

Item no. 26 [26] in the General section of this Schedule covers working documents. When drafts are created in the preparation of CUNY records, the final version is considered the official copy for retention purposes. Drafts must be discarded when no longer needed for the purposes for which they were created. This should be done at the earliest opportunity following approval of the final version. This policy applies to drafts in all formats, including word processing files, spreadsheet files, and other computer files.

Working papers, including notes, may be developed during the transaction of CUNY business or during the preparation of CUNY records. Most working papers, such as notes taken at a meeting or annotations on a draft record that is ultimately superseded by a final version, have no legal, operational, or research value that warrants retaining them beyond their moment of immediate usefulness. These records should be discarded at the earliest opportunity, generally within one (1) year after the purpose for which they were created has been fulfilled. This policy applies to working papers in all formats, including word processing files, spreadsheet files, and other computer files.

4.5 Additional Retention Requirement for Licensed Health Professionals Other Than Physicians

The State Education Department’s Office of the Professions oversees the professional conduct of licensed health professionals other than physicians. Paragraph 3 of subdivision a of Section 29.2 of 8NYCRR (Regulations of the Commissioner of Education) states that “unprofessional conduct” includes “failing to maintain records for each patient which accurately reflects the evaluation and treatment of the patient” and that, unless otherwise provided by law, records of minor patients must be retained for at least six years, and until one year after the patient reaches the age of 21 years.

A number of health-related items on this Schedule contain minimum legal retention periods that permit disposition of records after a minor attains age 21. These items are mostly found in the Personnel/Civil Service and Health Services sections. In these instances, certain records pertaining to minors must also be retained for an additional year if the records are subject to the Section 29.2 requirements for health professionals other than physicians, if these professionals are employed by or associated with a college or the University. For additional information on this situation, contact the Records Management Coordinator at your college.

4.6 Audits

Program and fiscal audits and other needs of state and federal agencies are taken into account when retention periods are established in this Schedule. However, in some instances agencies with audit responsibility and authority may formally request that certain records be kept beyond the retention periods. If such a request is made, these records must be retained beyond the retention periods until the college or the University receives the audit report or until the need is satisfied.

4.7 Archival Records

Archival records are records that colleges and the University must keep permanently to meet their fiscal, legal, or administrative needs or that colleges and the University retain because they contain historically significant information. Records do not have to be old to be archival; college and University officials create and use archival records daily in their offices. What makes a record worthy of permanent retention and special management is the continuing importance of the information it contains.

When the University has determined that a record item has enduring historical or other research significance, the item has been given a permanent designation on this Schedule. However, the University cannot identify all record items with historical or research significance. Knowledge of people, places, or events in each college community and the unique circumstances of each college will determine which records are significant. College and University officials will need to appraise records with nonpermanent retention periods for potential research or historical value before destroying them.

The usefulness of archival records depends on the ability of the colleges and the University to preserve them, retrieve the information they contain, and make that information available to researchers.

4.8 Appraising Records for Historical or Research Significance

A college or University record has historical or other research importance if it provides significant evidence of how the college or University functions and/or if it provides significant information about people, places, or events that involve the college or the University. Since each college community has its own unique history, the importance or value of a record item may vary from college to college.

College and University records may contain a tremendous amount of information about the people, buildings, and sites in the college or University community, as well as important time periods or significant events that affected the people associated with the college or the University. This information can be very valuable to staff, researchers, and the public, but only if the information itself is significant. The significance of the records will depend on:

► When the records were created. Records created during a time of momentous change, which are scarce, or which cover a long period of time tend to be more significant.

► What kind of information the records contain. Records that contain more in-depth information are more likely to have enduring value.

► Who created the records. Records that reflect an employee’s perspective or individual point of view may be more significant.

► What other records exist. If the information in the records exists in other records within a college or the University or elsewhere, then the records are less likely to be significant.

► The unique history of the college or the University. Records created during important time periods or events can provide clues to how the events affected the development of the college or the University and the community it serves.

4.9 Records Created before 1910

Disposition of records created before 1910 requires specific written approval from the State Archives, as required by Section 185.6 (c) of 8NYCRR, the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Certain records that would normally be disposable under this Schedule may need to be kept if created before 1910. Often these records have continuing historical or research value because:

► Other documentation no longer exists. Many earlier records were destroyed through natural disaster or through destruction by college or University officials prior to the passage of the first state statute in 1911 requiring the consent of the Commissioner of Education to the disposition of local public records.

► The volume and type of information contained in records have changed since the beginning of the 20th century. Older records often have more detailed and historically significant information than those produced today.

► Early records sometimes have intrinsic value beyond the information they contain. “Intrinsic value” refers to qualities, such as value for exhibits, association with significant events, and aesthetic value, which records may possess beyond merely the information they contain.

College or University officials desiring to dispose of any records created before 1910 should contact their Records Management Coordinator to obtain disposition request forms. This requirement also applies to the disposition of original records predating 1910 that have been microfilmed. The University Records Management Coordinator, working with the Office of the General Counsel and the State Archives, will review each request and advise the college or University officials on retention or disposition of the records.

4.10 Records Not Listed on This Schedule and Non-Existent Records

This Schedule covers the vast majority of all records of the colleges and the University. For any record not listed, the custodian of the records should contact the Records Management Coordinator at his or her college, who will then contact the University Records Management Coordinator or the Office of the General Counsel for assistance. If the record is not covered by an item on this Schedule, it must be retained until a revised edition of or addendum to this Schedule is issued containing an item covering the record in question and providing a minimum legal retention period for it.

Conversely, the State Archives has no legal authority to require a college or the University to create records where no records exist, even if the records in question are listed on this Schedule. Although there may be laws, regulations, or other requirements that certain records must be created, those requirements do not originate from the State Archives. The mere fact that a record is identified on this Schedule should not be interpreted as a requirement that the record must be created.

4.11 Public Access to Records/Confidentiality

This Schedule does not address the issue of public access to records. Access issues are not covered by the Local Government Records Law but are covered by the Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law, Sections 84 through 90). College and University officials should consult with their Records Access Officer on questions related to public access to records.

Records on this Schedule may or may not be confidential, depending on what information they contain and on the possible effect of disclosure of that information. In approaching issues of confidentiality and access, it may be helpful to consider the following:

► What was the purpose for which the records were created?

► What information do they contain? What subjects are covered?

► How are the records used?

► How do they relate to other records that may have similar information?

► What would be the likely effect of disclosure of the information in the records?

College and University officials should consult their Records Access Officer with questions related to public access to records that may contain confidential information.

5. Suggestions for Records Disposition

Records without historical value must be disposed of continually as they meet their stated minimum retention periods. The advantages of a program for systematic, legal disposal of obsolete records are that it:

► Ensures that records are retained as long as they are actually needed for administrative, fiscal, legal, or research purposes;

► Ensures that records are promptly disposed of after they are no longer needed;

► Frees storage space and equipment for important records and for new records as they are created;

► Eliminates time and effort required to service and sort through superfluous records to find needed information;

► Eliminates the potential fire hazard from storage of large quantities of valueless records; and

► Facilitates the identification and preservation of archival records.

Suggestions for systematically approaching the disposition process include the following:

► Disposition should be carried out regularly, at least once a year. It should not be deferred until records become a pressing storage problem. Duplicate copies of records, including copies maintained on different media (paper, electronic, etc.), may be disposed of at any time in accordance with item no. 19 [19] of the General section of this Schedule. This should be done at the earliest opportunity after a determination that the duplicate copies are no longer needed. In no case should duplicate records be retained longer than official copies that contain the same information.

► Since State law does not prescribe the physical means of destruction of most records, records may be destroyed in any way prescribed by the University Records Management Coordinator. Disposition through consignment to a paper recycling plant is often the best choice as it helps conserve natural resources and may also yield revenue for the college or the University. For records containing confidential information (e.g., Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, personnel evaluations, salary levels), disposition should be carried out in a way that ensures that the confidentiality of individuals named in the records is protected.

► A record should be kept of the identity, inclusive dates, and approximate quantity of records that are disposed. Sample disposition forms designed by the State Archives are available from the Records Management Coordinator at your college.

The Records Management Coordinator or other official who carries out disposition at your college will describe what has been done to dispose of records during the year in an annual report to the University Records Management Coordinator.

6. Reminders

► Records created before 1910 (even those that have been microfilmed) are not eligible for disposition without written permission from the State Archives. Consult the Records Management Coordinator at your college if you have any questions about the possible disposition of such records.

► No records may be disposed of unless they are listed on this Schedule, or their disposition is covered by other state laws.

► Records common to most college and University offices are listed under the General section of this Schedule; more specific items are listed in sections with a functional heading. You should use the Subject Index at the end of this Schedule to match the records in your office with the description on this Schedule to determine the appropriate retention period. You should check with your Records Management Coordinator if you are uncertain regarding coverage of a function.

► Records being used in legal actions must be retained for one year after the legal action ends, or until their scheduled retention period has expired, whichever is longer. Consult the Legal Affairs Designee at your college before disposing of any such records.

► Any record listed on this Schedule for which a Freedom of Information (FOIL) request has been received should not be destroyed until that request has been answered and until any potential appeal is made and resolved, even if the scheduled retention period of the record has expired.

► Records being kept beyond the established retention periods for audit and other purposes at the request of state or federal agencies must be retained until the college or the University receives the audit report, or the need is satisfied.

► Retention periods on this Schedule apply to one “official” copy designated by the college or the University, unless otherwise stated.

► The retention periods listed on this Schedule pertain to the information contained in records, regardless of physical form or characteristic (paper, microfilm, computer disk or tape, or other medium).

► Duplicate copies of records created for administrative convenience, including copies maintained in different media (paper, electronic, etc.), should be disposed of when no longer needed, except where retention is specified elsewhere in this Schedule.

► There is no requirement for colleges or the University to create records where no records exist, even if the records in question are listed on this Schedule.

► This Schedule cannot identify all record items with historical significance for individual colleges or the University. College and University officials will need to appraise records with nonpermanent retention periods for potential research or historical value before destroying them.

► Certain records may need to be retained for one year longer than this Schedule dictates if those records are subject to the requirements stated in Section 29.2 of 8NYCRR for health professionals other than physicians, if these professionals are employed by or associated with a college or the University.

► The Local Government Records Law and this Schedule do not address confidentiality of records. Confidentiality of records is often dependent upon what information they contain. College officials should address such questions to the Legal Affairs Designee at their college, and University officials should consult with the Office of the General Counsel.