We were recently asked by a state agency records manager for some questions that they could pass along to other agency staff (including non-records specialists) to arm them with important considerations to make before they request a new record series. You may or may not know that part of our job as analysts is to ask RMOs some focused questions when they submit a retention schedule for review, because sometimes justification is needed for us to approve of a new, unique series. Therefore, it can greatly help an RMO to be proactive and examine their organization’s needs even before submitting the schedule.
So, to get an answer (or rather, a list of questions!) we reached out to Kay Steed at Employees Retirement System for her thoughts since she has been carefully decreasing the amount of record series they used to have in an effort to streamline the schedule, which makes it easier to read and – most importantly – to use!
She shared with us a list you can use and perhaps adapt into a handout or resource for other staff at your organization:
- Have they reviewed the current schedule to find a suitable records series?
- Are there any legal requirements that require a longer retention period than what is on the current schedule?
- What is the function of the records?
- Will any of the records in one series be needed as part of another series?
- Will the records be audited?
- Are the records needed for agency historical value? (TSLAC has some additional advice about how to determine archival value.)
- Are the records associated with grants?
- At what point are the records no longer accessed?
- Are there any plans to expand an existing or create a new program?
- If they ask for permanent retention, the negotiations begin!
From your experience with having staff ask for new record series, do you have any relevant questions you’d like to see added to the list? Let us know in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.