I agree with Larry in his comments below EXCEPT that rather than ask the business units if it is OK to destroy a file, I tell them that the retention period is up for a particular records and that we are destroying the file, and see if we get any feedback within the retention schedules procedural time limits.  The reason I prefer to tell rather than ask is because when you ask you are giving the decision authority over to the person you are asking, whereas I believe that the authority to dispose of the records should continue to reside in the Records Dept / Records Committee.  If you give every little Napoleon the right to simply deny destruction, despite the retention schedule, you won't have a defensible schedule, because it could be construed as doing selective destruction. Dept. Heads should only be able to delay destruction by citing a business need, law, statue, or regulation that requires continue maintenance of the item.  If such a contingency does come up, it may be time for the Committee to review and revise the schedule.

Bill Creamer
Records & Conflicts Manager
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There are opinions from both sides of the aisle on this one...

One party thinks "If you have an approved retention schedule that all parties (including legal) have weighed in on, then you can just go ahead and discard it when retention is met."

The other thinks "Records Management is generally just the custodian of the records, NOT the owner and they shouldn't disposition ANYTHING without the OWNERS approval"

I happen to agree with "the other" for a few of reasons:

1) You MAY have an approved retention schedule, but are all citations current, and have all revisions been approved by the same parties?
2) Do you have a process that ensure Records Management is informed of EVERY legal action that may require a 'hold' be placed on some records, and can RM identify all of those records?
3) Have business models changed since the retention schedule was approved and has anyone reviewed the schedule to determine if it is still consistent with business needs?
4) If records are discarded that have ongoing/enduring./legal value, are you willing to be responsible for NOT asking the question prior to disposal?

So yeah, as with many RM thingies... "It Depends...."

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