Records Retention and Disposition Policy
Authority: Business Affairs
Date Enacted or Revised: Revised January 28, 2013; January 26, 2016; March 18, 2022; October 28, 2022
The purpose of this policy is to provide information regarding record retention requirements.
McNeese State University is required by Louisiana Statute (La. R.S. 44:410) to have a records management program to ensure that vital records are identified and maintained. The Office of the Secretary of State, Division of Archives has established policies and practices to assist state agencies in establishing and maintaining their records management programs (LAC 4:XVII. Chapters 1-15). Having an active records management program is important in preserving the history and continuity of McNeese State University. The purpose of this policy is to establish a systematic process that would effectively maintain a University records management program, applicable to both electronic and hardcopy formats.
Maintaining a records management program involves the areas of 1) active files management, 2) vital records protection, 3) disaster recovery planning, 4) inactive records management, 5) image technology of document management, 6) electronic records management, 7) archives management, 8) forms management, 9) mail/message management, and 10) reprographics management. The key element in the program is the University’s records retention schedule, which is submitted to the state for approval every five years.
All records created by University administrators or employees in the course of their duties on behalf of McNeese State University are retained for as long as they are required to meet the legal, administrative, and operational requirements of the University, after which time they may be either destroyed or transferred to the University archives. The final disposition (either destruction or transfer to the archives) of records is carried out according to approved records schedules and University policies. (See also further requirements relating to litigation holds described later in this policy.)
The president has designated the vice president for business affairs as the University records officer for McNeese State University. The University records officer will serve as the liaison with the Louisiana secretary of state in all matters relating to records retention.
Records Retention Schedule
Form SS ARC 932 “Records Retention Schedule”
The state retention schedule, Form SS ARC 932, a standardized form created by state archives, provides a format for each state agency to identify and classify its records by type. State archives defines record types as “records series.” Since a University is a very diverse agency, records series will differ greatly from one department to another. For example, University Police might have a record series relating to traffic accidents, and the Office of Administrative Accounting might have a record series relating to student accounts receivable, and both departments will likely have numerous others. It is important to note that state archives does not consider email a record series. Email should be incorporated within other record series.
Since department heads would have the best knowledge in identifying their records series, they are expected to complete an accurate form SS ARC 932 for their departments in accordance with form instructions. This form will be sent to you by the Office of Business Affairs for completion every five years.
Once department heads have completed their respective SS ARC 932 forms for their individual departments, they should submit the forms to the Office of Business Affairs. The Office of Business Affairs will accumulate the SS ARC 932 forms and submit them to state archives for approval. Once the approved SS ARC 932 forms are received from state archives, the Office of Business Affairs will provide copies to department heads for their records.
Amended Retention Schedule
Form SS ARC 932 “Records Retention Schedule”
- Department heads should review their current retention schedules at least once a year, and the schedules should be amended when necessary, such as when additional series are discovered or when series no longer apply.
- Departments should submit their amended schedules to the University records officer, who will forward them to state archives for approval. Once received, the University records officer will send a copy of the approved schedules to departments for their records.
Disposal of Records
Form SS ARC 930 “Request for Authority to Dispose of Records”
State Records Management Policies and Practices, LAC 4: XVII, Chapter 9, contains specific provisions relating to record disposal. Departments are advised to review these provisions prior to disposing records. Departments should be aware that even though a record might not be listed on their current record retention schedule, Chapter 9 of the State Records Management Policies and Practices still applies. Also, if a record is considered to be either confidential or sensitive, the record should be disposed in a manner that will maintain confidentiality.
General Procedures for Completing SS ARC 930
- Complete University/departmental information on the SS ARC 930 form (available in the Office of Business Affairs) as required.
- Select the series to be disposed from the records retention schedule, SS ARC 932, and transcribe the relevant information to SS ARC 930, including series titles, item numbers, inclusive dates, etc.
- The completed SS ARC 930 form should then be forwarded to the University records officer who will forward the document to state archives for approval. Once the approved SS ARC 930 is received by the University records officer, a copy will be sent to the department for its records and its use.
- Once a department head receives an approved SS ARC 930 from the University records officer, the department may dispose of the record. Departments must maintain a Certificate of Destruction (SS AR 933) or by using an alternate method described in the State Records Management Policies and Practices, LAC 4: XVII, Chapter 9, Section 913, for the records they dispose.
Archiving of Records
Records found to possess historical or archival value to McNeese State University may be determined to be archival and are required to be retained permanently. Contact the University records officer for guidelines on the archival process. Lether E. Frazar Memorial Library is the designated archives for McNeese State University.
Litigation Hold Requirements
There are circumstances in which University records are involved in litigation, or can be reasonably anticipated to relate to foreseeable actions, and these records must be preserved until the resolution of the litigation. A litigation hold requires the retention of relevant paper or electronic records for an indefinite period of time due to pending litigation. Any and all records that might provide insight into the litigation must be maintained until the completion of the issue.
Severe and potentially costly penalties under federal law for not retaining such documents exist, and accordingly, special care should be taken to preserve records that may be involved in state or federal investigations or litigation.
The vice president for business affairs is designated as the litigation hold officer (LHO) who shall be responsible for coordinating with McNeese departments that become involved in federal or state investigations or litigation. As the LHO, the vice president for business affairs will also coordinate these matters with the University of Louisiana System (ULS) staff.
Litigation Notification Process
Any University personnel who become aware of litigation, threat of litigation, other legal action, or investigation by any administrative, civil, or criminal authority shall immediately notify the LHO. University personnel who receive official notice of pending or potential claims or action against the University must submit such notice to the LHO within two business days of receipt. The LHO shall notify the general counsel for the ULS within three business days of the LHO’s receipt of notice from University personnel.
Litigation Record Hold Process
The University has a legal obligation to preserve evidence and records, including electronically stored information (ESI), that may be relevant to pending or potential legal actions, such as lawsuits, government audits, and administrative hearings. Federal law requires the institution to take action in the form of a litigation hold to preserve all paper and ESI that may be relevant to the claim. The following procedures shall be followed:
- The LHO will issue an official Litigation Hold Notice regarding the matter to the appropriate individuals, including the institution’s Office of Information Technology within three business days of receipt of notification of pending litigation.
- The notice shall provide the categories of electronic and paper documents, including ESI, that must be retained and preserved in their original format.
- All employees who receive a litigation hold notice must acknowledge receipt, understanding, and compliance with the notice by returning a signed copy of the notice to the LHO.
- All employees who receive the litigation hold notice must compile paper and electronic documents and data as instructed in the notice letter, and in addition, retention shall extend to any new electronic information that may be relevant to the subject of the notice after the hold has been put into place.
- It shall be the responsibility of the LHO to retain all records responsive to the notice until receipt of written notification that the litigation hold has been removed. Electronic records must be retained in the original format (saved to a disk/CD and/or saved in a secure folder on the system service that is not subject to automatic or unannounced deletions).
- If affected personnel use home computers for institutional-related business (including email on institutional accounts) they must preserve the data on those computers.
- Such retention efforts could actually predate any official notification. Records relating to any complaints, grievances, or controversies that could potentially rise to the level of a lawsuit shall be retained.
This policy is distributed via the Academic Advisory Council, the Administrative Advisory Council, and the University Policies webpage.