Remarkable Records: Complaints

The Remarkable Records Series was created to highlight our favorite, weird, and wacky record series found in the retention schedules. We’ve covered the quirky and funny, but it’s time to complain contribute a lesser favorite: Complaints.

Recently we received a record clarification question from a Local Government (LG) that seemed to fit under the umbrella of complaints, violation reports, or environmental investigations. Starting with Complaints, a keyword search brought out roughly 12 different Complaint series across the 12 retention schedules! And no, it was not one Complaint record series for each schedule. Each schedule had up to three record series relevant to complaints. Dealing with the burden of choice, we consulted further with the LG and ultimately found the record was likely a violation report (womp). Satisfied to offer an accurate series for the LG, we still questioned the abundance of Complaint record series.

Defining Complaints

Our definition of complaints can be defined as the customer objecting to an entity’s policy and procedure, quality of service, or outage. As taken from Merriam Webster, Complaints are an expression of grief, pain, or resentment. While we hope that records never cause pain or grief, we find common ground in GR1000-24 Complaints that can serve as a starting point for us. Similar series tend to be tailored to specific types of complaints:

Record SeriesRecord TitleDescriptionRetention PeriodRemarks
GR1000-24ComplaintsComplaints received from the public by a governing body or any officer or employee of a local government relating to government employees, policies, etc.Resolution or dismissal of complaint + 2 years.Retention Notes: a) The 2-year retention period applies only to complaints of a general nature that do not fall into a different category of complaint noted in this or other commission schedules. For example, complaints from the public about potential fire hazards are scheduled in Local Schedule PS (Records of Public Safety Agencies) and have a longer retention period.
b) For complaints received from local government employees see GR1050-20.
PS4475-04ComplaintsComplaints regarding possible violations of the fire code or potential fire hazards. Resolution of the complaint + 3 years.
(02b and 02c also exist!)
ComplaintsRecord of complaints from customers or applicants for public utility services except that complaints requiring no further action by the utility need not be recorded.  Includes the name and address of the complainant, the date and nature of the complaint, and the adjustment or disposition made. Final settlement of complaint + 2 years.By regulation – 30 TAC 291.81(b)(4) for water and sewer utilities, and by authority of this schedule for all others.
HR4775-43ComplaintsReports of complaints received by local health authorities from the public or from other local departments or agencies regarding possible violations of local or state health laws or regulations.Resolution of the complaint + 3 years.

So, when it comes to receiving and addressing a compliant, which record series do we follow? How do we determine which is the most accurate?

Knowing Which Schedule to Follow

Schedule GR vs Specific Schedule

Understanding which complaint series to follow starts with knowing your retention schedules! If you are from an office that has a specific schedule (i.e. County Clerk – Schedule CC, Public Safety – Schedule PS, etc.), start your search there. This will help to catch the Complaint series that may require the longer retention or even a different series that is more accurate.

Sheldon from Big Bang Theory throwing papers in the air out of frustration.

In the original question from the LG, our first instinct was to search Schedule UT as it is relevant to their purpose and adopted by the local government. This is where we first found three separate Complaint series to consider. After more consultation and context of the record, we suggested that UT5025-11 Violation Reports would be the appropriate series to follow.

If there is not an easy answer in a specific schedule, broaden your search to include Schedule GR. Many times we receive questions about records not being found in the retention schedules. This is because searches are being carried out in specific schedules, not realizing the record could be common to all local governments.

Bucketing Complaints

There are situations when more than one record series sounds accurate to follow. Us analysts have come across the predicament often, and the best practice is to go with the series that has the longer retention. Keep in mind if one series has a retention of two years and the other has a retention of 10 years, we may want to do some more research before adding to long-term storage. This advice works best for record series that are closer in retention than apart.

A toddler attempting to fit a square toy into a round hole, ultimately cheating by opening the box itself and placing the toy inside.

Having an internal schedule would also prove to be useful in this situation. Referring back to the original question, it’s possible their Violation Reports could stem from complaints that are submitted to the district. For ease and consistency, they could create an internal record series that is benchmarked off UT5025-11 and include in the description/retention notes that Complaints which initiated the Violation Report fall into the series as well. This strategy works since Complaints found on Schedule UT and GR all have a retention similar to ‘resolution of complaint + 2 years’ while UT5025-11 has a retention of ‘3 years after last action taken with respect to the particular violation’. In other words, the retention requirement of Schedule GR’s Complaints is satisfied if bucketed into UT5025-11 Violation Reports.

Further Reading

In any case, if you are having difficulty finding an appropriate series to follow for any type of record, feel free to reach out to us! We’d be happy to search the schedules for an accurate solution. In the meantime, here are some other articles that can help identify, classify, or bucket records.


“Complaint.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Apr. 2024.

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