I have experienced a few units that have asked for this or that drag out authorizing the disposition to get around it. I have come up with a few different ways to respond, depending on their tactic. Our disposition process currently involves getting authorization from the department head and responsible senior administrator. They have the opportunity to review the list of eligible records and to put individual records on hold for administrative, legal, or audit purposes. Disposition for us may mean that the records are transferred to our archives or that they are destroyed (this is indicated in the retention schedule for each record series).
If the disposition comes back with records selected for hold, I contact them to find out why and to identify either a new date, a date to review, or the trigger that we should be looking for to remove the hold. I don't accept "just in case" as an acceptable reason and try to explain to them why it is important to comply with the retention rules. I find that a lot of people identify historical value in documents that are heading to the archives anyway, but don't understand our process and want to prevent them getting destroyed. Often, explaining that they are going to Archives is sufficient to reassure them that the historical documents are not going to be lost. In other cases, it turns out that the retention rule is no longer appropriate, so we will start the process of changing the rule. For most things, I really don't care what the rule is, as long as we are actually complying with it (i.e. I'd rather change the rule than make exceptions to it). If they really want to keep the stuff indefinitely "just in case" and there are no grounds for changing the rule and the risk of the information is pretty low (e.g. no personal data), I'll permanently return it to them so they can store it. I know that it just means that the poor person who comes into the job after them is going to have to deal with it, but I'm not storing stuff indefinitely with no rules to apply. If we still can't find a resolution, I'll involve the senior administrator in the discussion.
If they just don't authorize the disposition, we start with a friendly reminder after the deadline we gave them passes. If that is ignored or we don't hear back, we will send another one, but include the senior administrator on the email. If I still don't hear back, I'm phoning the department head to ask what's going on. I am considering changing our process so that instead of having to approve the disposition, they have a short period of time (usually a month) to review it and put anything on hold and we proceed on time if we don't hear from them. This would be a big culture change for us, though.
I hope this helps. Good luck!
Ashley Haughton | Records and Information Manager | Records Management | University of Lethbridge
4401 University Drive West | Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4 | 403-329-2725 | uleth.ca/records-management
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