Getting the Most Out of Your State Records Retention Schedule, Part III: RSINs

Records Series Item Numbers (RSINs) are the unique string of characters that TSLAC uses to identify each series on the State Records Retention Schedule (RRS) and its supplement, the University Records Retention Schedule (URRS). These are “theory documents” that are nonetheless published as administrative rules for state agencies. The heck does that mean?

By “theory documents,” we mean these two documents in and of themselves do not refer to any specific, tangible records. They are abstract. These are record types that we at TSLAC have identified as common across most state agencies and public universities. We are duty-bound to prescribe mandatory minimum retention periods for these record types, and we do. It is up to each state agency and public university to put the theory into practice, and the easiest way to do that is by employing RSINs.

How does one go about that? Well, the easiest way is to build your retention schedule like the state RRS—that is, create a records retention schedule based on the functions of the records at your agency. After conducting an inventory of the record types created, go through the state RRS to determine which of the series are applicable. For instance, your accounting department may look at the travel voucher reimbursement forms that are filed with them regularly and determine that RSIN 4.1.001—Accounts Payable Information—is a suitable series from the state RRS; they will go ahead and request their RMO include it on the agency schedule. Using broad functional series from the RRS makes the classification of records that serve a similar function (in this case: money being spent by your agency) fairly simple.

But say Accounts Payable Information is too broad of an umbrella for your agency. You file your travel vouchers separately from all other records documenting the payment of monies, and you would like a more targeted series on your agency’s records retention schedule that just covers these vouchers. If you would like to create specific series, well, you can still use the RSIN 4.1.001. Since travel vouchers fall under the umbrella of Accounts Payable, 4.1.001 is still a responsive RSIN and makes sense.

If you do create a targeted series for travel vouchers, and still use the generic 4.1.001 series from the state RRS, I have the following two tips:

Tip 1: For the broader series, if you use the description from the state RRS, make sure to remove the references to the more targeted series. You do not want a situation where travel vouchers could be assigned to two separate series on your schedule.

TIP 2: In the remarks columns for both series, create a crosswalk. For the example sketched out above, in the broad AP series, have a note saying something like, “For travel reimbursement records, see AIN [fill in the blank.]” Create a similar note in the remarks column for the more specific record directing the reader back to the generic series. Our state RRS has many such crosswalks for use by agencies to point out records of similar functions. We stick with RSINs because that is what we know. But we encourage agencies to refer to their own AINs—what you call the series, not what we call it!

Employ this method of creating more targeted series using the structure of a series from the state RRS throughout your schedule. There are plenty of ripe targets waiting to be expounded upon by agencies and universities. Some examples of low-hanging fruit are RSINs 1.1.008—General Correspondence—and 1.1.069—Activity Reports. Both of these series (and others on the RRS) are begging for more specific application by agencies.

So, what happens when your agency has unique functions that fall outside of the scope of the state RRS? How can RSINs be used in those instances? We call these “unique” series, though for your agency, they may be your bread and butter. In these instances, we would encourage you to use a category stem in lieu of a full RSIN. Each RSIN is split into three sections. Let’s take a look at an example from the state RRS: 3.1.018—Grievance Records.

CategorySubcategoryTheoretical series within this framework
3118
Personnel RecordsEmployee Personnel RecordsGrievance Records

The first number—3—refers to the category. Category 3 is Personnel Records. This category includes all manner of records, from payroll to hiring to W-2s and disciplinary records.

The first number combined with the second is 3.1, which refers to the subcategory of Employee Personnel Records. This breakdown is slightly more targeted.

So, if you have a unique records series for employee personnel records that falls outside of the scope of the state RRS, you don’t have to leave the RSIN column blank (though that is fine too); you can employ the organizational structure of the state RRS to assign it the stem, 3.1.

This approach can also be used if you bucket several RSINs from a given category. Many agencies’ HR departments keep one employee file for each employee. They do not have separate files for performance evaluations (3.1.019), applications (3.1.002), employee awards (3.1.037), etc. It all goes into one file. If the agency so chooses, they can combine the series from the state RRS into one super series and employ the stem 3.1 as the RSIN. If they throw employee deduction authorizations (3.2.001) into that same bucket, they might even consider using “3” (yep, a stand-alone “3”) as the RSIN since on the state RRS, we classify deduction authorizations in the subcategory of Payroll Records, and not part of the employee files. But they both still fall under the personnel category, which is category 3. See example below:

RSINRecord Series TitleDescriptionRetention PeriodAC DefinitionRemarks
3.1.000Personnel FilesMay include, but is not limited to: employment applications and transcripts; certificates and licenses; agreements and acknowledgments; personal data; public access option forms; correspondence; benefit selections; training and awards; resignations; exit surveys; performance evaluations; personnel corrective action documentation; personnel disciplinary action documentation; personnel information or action forms, refund applications; and unemployment compensation recordsAC+5AC = Termination of employment.Includes the following RSINs: 3.1.002, 3.1.006, 3.1.018, 3.1.019, 3.1.020, 3.1.021, 3.1.022, 3.1.023, 3.1.027, 3.1.029, 3.1.034, 3.1.036, 3.1.037.

In the above bucketed example, this hypothetical agency combined nearly all of the 3.1 series into a stand-alone series called “Personnel Files.” Instead of using a two-digit stem, the agency opted to make it a full five-digit stem. This is fine too!

A note on how TSLAC orders and categorizes records on the state RRS.

On occasion, we have gotten questions from agencies disagreeing with the category a particular record series is assigned to. “Why are contract administration files categorized as Support Service Records?” This is not the place to defend TSLAC’s own structure and categorization, but it should be noted that no agency is under any obligation to match the state RRS word for word or series for series. If you have contracts (and you should), you can put that RSIN 5.1.001 anywhere on your schedule that you like!

With that being said, proper use of RSINs is super helpful to TSLAC and, by extension, the broader public sector records management community of Texas. We compile every state agency and public university schedule into our Texlinx database and can use that information to inform RRS and URRS updates, determine which series are truly “common,” and based on stem usage, figure out if new series are appropriate to add.

More information on the recertification process can be found on our Recertification Portal. Also, see the other two parts of the Getting the Most Out of Your State Agency Retention Schedule series:

Part 1: Structure

Part 2: AINs

In this hypothetical schedule, the agency makes full use of options afforded by RSINs. Standard series. Specific series. Unique Series. Bucketed series. A full spectrum employment of RSINs.
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