UW-Madison Records Retention Schedules and Disposition

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

Records retention schedules (also known as Records Disposition Authorizations or RDAs) 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 and helps manage the records that the University creates throughout their lifecycle.

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

All recommended dispositions stated within these schedules may generally be carried out by the office without further consultation. However, there are conditions which affect the final disposition of records where the records schedule is suspended and held until completed. A record cannot be disposed of if:

  • If has no approved record schedule until one is written and approved by the Public Records Board (PRB).
  • The record schedule has reached its sunset date and needs to be resubmitted to the PRB for approval.
  • The record is under a current open records request. Open Records Law (Sec.19.35 (5) Wis. Stats.) forbids the destruction of any record until the request is granted or until at least sixty days after the date that the request is denied. Court orders may extend this time period. The University’s legal records custodian can advise offices on specific requests for access (Sec. 19.33 and 19.34, Wis. Stats.)
  • The record is under a pending or active litigation case or audit until the litigation or audit is complete.

The above factors pertain to all University records regardless of format.

State agencies like UW-Madison, are statutorily required to provide record schedules for all records created or received by the University in the course of its business regardless of format. RDAs or record schedules are submitted by the University Records Officer on behalf of the Madison campus to the Public Records Board (PRB) for approval.

RDAs sunset every 10 years and must be resubmitted to the PRB for approval although this may happen more frequently as campus policies, procedures, and systems change.

Records Retention Schedules for UW-Madison