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Feb 2012
01
February 01, 2012

Why Customize a Records Retention Schedule?


A schedule identifies those records an organization chooses to retain for a specific period of time based on legal and/or business reasons.  Records schedules differ among organizations because organizations differ among each other.  The following factors, among others, create variations in schedules:
  • Type of organization (an auto manufacturer retains different records than a bank)
  • Size of organization (e.g., certain labor regulations only affect companies of a certain size)
  • Location of organization (retention requirements vary across state and national lines)
  • Whether organization is publically traded or not (e.g., certain SEC oversight applies to the former)
  • Whether organization provides goods/services to the U.S. government (which necessitates requirements applicable to government contractors)
  • Volume of litigation (organization may consider retaining records that, while not legally required to be retained, should be retained for defensive or offensive purposes)
A generic schedule runs the risk of being inaccurate and not taking into account the factors above.  An inaccurate schedule may lead to:
  • Lack of employee involvement, compliance and misuse 
  • The disposal of records that should be retained legally– resulting in fines, adverse inference in lawsuit or obstruction of justice (which carries a possible 20 year sentence)
  • Retention of records that should be destroyed – resulting in storage costs, inefficiency, costly production of documents in litigation/audit or even loss of a lawsuit 
The more tailored a schedule is to an organization, the more likely accurate and beneficial it will be to the organization.  

Dawn Ward chairs the firm’s Records Information Management Practice.  She is a long-standing member of ARMA International, as well as a member of the West Michigan Chapter of ARMA, which printed this article.
ARMA

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