Disposition and Destruction of University Records

Frequently Asked Questions regarding disposition and disposal of University Records.  

See Records Retention and Conditions which Affect Final Disposition

How do I dispose of records when they have met Retention?

University Records are ready to be destroyed when they have met retention.  Check the approved University Records Retention Schedule first to find the correct record series to destroy against.  Records should not be destroyed if there is litigation, audit, open records request or the department is working with the Records Officer in updating the Records Schedule.  It is recommended that for destruction of records onsite that a destruction log be maintained by the department to tie the records to the records retention schedule.

Health Records of Protected Health Information (PHI) refer to the UW-Madison HIPAA Policies. The Health Information and Protability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains specific requirements regarding the disposal of protected Health Information (PHI). For Health Records see the Office of Compliance Privacy and Security.  UW-Madison HIPAA Policies and ProceduresThe Health Information and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains specific requirements regarding the disposal of protected health information (PHI). A Certificate of Destruction is required.

8.7 Destruction/Disposal of Protected Health Information
Related Form: Sample Certificate of Destruction

Records Disposition: 

Record disposition is the final phase in a record’s life cycle. It normally involves two possibilities: destruction of the record or transfer to the University Archives for preservation. On rare occasions, the disposition may be to transfer to another State or Federal agency. The disposition of a records series is noted on the records schedule (RDA).

Disposition of records should occur routinely in accordance with the provisions of the University Records Schedule. This ensures that file space will be used efficiently and lessens the possibility that active records which are needed for day-to-day operations do not become interfiled with records which have outlived their administrative usefulness.

Onsite -Department or Unit: To dispose of university records onsite it is recommended that the boxes that are to be destroyed are logged against the record series used in the records retention schedule.  This would also  include records being boxed for destruction and picked by State Records Center(SRC) or other Vendor.  This can be completed by using a spreadsheet that is kept as part of the Department Records Management File Plan.

Completing the Destruction Log demonstrates compliance with the schedule and accountability for the department or unit.

Here is Records Destruction Log template which can be used to document the destruction. Records Destruction Log – Filled out Example.

Records Disposition and Destruction Guidelines” [pdf]

Disposition: Physical Destruction, Non-Confidential

When the final disposition of the records is DESTROY, and the records have been retained within your office area, it is appropriate to place the material in your building’s recycling or trash receptacles. It is not necessary to notify the Archives or seek further authorization. The approved RDA is your authorization to destroy. If records are stored at the State Records Center, the department will receive a report two times a year requesting authorization to destroy those boxes that have met their retention time.

Disposition: Physical Destruction, Confidential

When the final disposition is DESTROY CONFIDENTIAL, special precautions must be taken to ensure that the material is securely handled prior to and during the destruct process. Records marked confidential must not be placed in trash receptacles, which would permit access by those not authorized to view the information, nor in containers which would permit the material to be easily scattered, such as boxes or other containers without secure lids.

The same precautions that were taken to protect access during the record’s active life need to be extended to the inactive period and during the final disposition.

The State Records Center can assist you with confidential shredding.  See Using the State Records Center.

There are also information technology polices for Media and Device Disposal and Reuse.