University Record Retention Schedules and Disposition

NOTE: To submit a Public Records request, please use the UW-Madison Public Records Portal 

What is a Record Retention Schedule?

Records retention schedules form the cornerstone of an effective Records Management Program.  At its most basic, it is a policy document that defines an organization’s legal and compliance recordkeeping requirements.  Records retention schedules consist of the record policy, record series (which is a group of record types that work and function together and are kept for the same amount of time), a retention time-frame/event, and disposition.

Records retention schedules apply to records in all formats, not just paper records.  This would include but is not limited to records in electronic systems,  email, on shared and personal drives, and imaging systems.

Creation of Record Schedules at the UW-Madison

State agencies like UW-Madison, are statutorily required to provide record schedules for all records created and used by the University in the course of its business regardless of format.  In Wisconsin State government, the record scheduling process is accomplished by completing an RDA or record schedule which the University Records Officer submits to the Public Record Board (PRB) for approval after getting a legal review and archival review.

By law, Record Retention Schedules have to be submitted one year after each records series has been received or created. After 10 years, the RDA sunsets, and a new one must be resubmitted for Public Record Board approval.

By Wisconsin law, university records cannot be disposed of without a valid records schedule.  

Record Schedules at the UW-Madison

There are three types of record schedules in use at the UW-Madison:

  • General system-wide:  general records schedules that are used by all UW system campus departments, divisions, or individuals
  • General campus-wide:  general records schedules that are specific to the UW-Madison campus and can be used by all UW-Madison departments, divisions, or individuals
  • Department/unit specific:  records schedules that are written for UW-Madison departments/units for unique records that are not captured in one of the higher level system or campus general schedules.

The front page of the schedule will specify what type of schedule it is, but all schedules listed on this website are valid here at the UW-Madison.   These schedules can be found here or via the link in the box at the right to the University General Record Schedules.