On Wed, 10 Nov 2010, Todd Gilliom <[log in to unmask]> sez:

>As for standardized terms, here's another screwball.
>"Record Series" used to mean a group of records that share certain
>characteristics of function, arrangement, purpose, and content.
>But now, with big bucket retention -- it seems all they have to share is a
>retention period and people want to call it a record series.

This has been a 'point of discussion' between Contractors to Federal
Agencies and NARA for some time now.  

The term 'big bucket' has at times been used to describe the aggregation of
a number of series into a common retention period, in some cases extending
the minimum retention period for certain series and in other cases, reducing
the minimum retention period for others.  By this what I mean is taking
series that have a 3-5 year retention and other series that may have a 7-9
year retention and setting a 'bucket' for retention for all of those series
at 7 years.  

This is never proposed in a cavalier manner, it requires an assessment of
the risks/benefits of lumping these series into a common period. 

The benefits are typically an easier process of applying retention periods
by end users generating and/or receiving the records and to a degree,
minimizing the need for regular re-handling of shorter retention records to
cull and dispose of records on a shorter cycle.  The only possible direct
cost would be extended storage, which may cost less than repetitive handling
or the need for moving electronic content toless expensive systems of
storage and reclaiming active storage space.
The risks would include keeping records that COULD BE disposed of that MIGHT
NEED TO BE produced in a discovery action, or discarding information that
would have been retained longer and POTENTIALLY needing access to it. 
Obviously, if there is a concern that reducing the retention would result
ion this, then the retention period could be left as-is, or increased and
placed in the next 'bucket'.

BUT... in no case does this mean you need to collapse or combine (aggregate)
record SERIES.  The series can remain untouched, and SHOULD to avoid the
need to generate endless complex crosswalk documents that say "RS
01-001-001, 002 and 007 are now combined into RS 01-001-003" and risk the
re-use of series 001, 002, and 007 as something other than what they were,
further confusing others in the future.

Presently we're working with our Agency contact and NARA Appraisal Archivist
to reduce 66 discrete retention periods in one schedule down to four.  These
periods range from "when superseded, obsolete, or no longer needed for
reference purposes" to "Permanent", and also includes numerous 'Event plus
X-years" options.  Sorry, but I can't share the contractor or agency name.

The determination of the length of the retention periods being proposed is
based on the value of the information contained in the records in the
various series (11 major categories and 62 sub-categories), and may involve
some collapsing of the sub-categories.  The proposed periods are Permanent,
75y, 25Y, 3Y and nothing is being proposed to have a retention period
reduced from what it is currently, because the object of this exercise is
not to discard information, but to assign periods more appropriately related
to the value and use of the information assets and make it so they can be
applied by technical users.

Let's see what kind of discussion this results in.

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