UMass Boston

Contracts & Compliance

Records Retention FAQ

What are records?
Records are any items that contain recorded information in any medium and regardless of form or characteristic.  This includes paper documents, digital files like pdf or doc, emails, floppy disks, CDs, microfiche, etc.  However, the policy only covers paper records.

What types of records are there?
There are 6 types of records:

  • UMass Boston Records - generated or received by or on behalf of UMass Boston and include information pertaining to campus business, resources, or activities.
  • Third-Party Records - generated or received by UMass Boston pursuant to a contract or other agreement with a third-party entity, for example a client, a collaborating institution (including other institutions within the University of Massachusetts system), or certain types of funding agencies. 
  • Non-Records - non-essential documents (such as copies, notes, or drafts) and do not need to be retained after their administrative use has ceased. 
  • Legal Hold which is a directive by the University Office of the General Counsel that alerts some segment of UMass Boston that an investigation, litigation, or other legal action has been, or may be, filed against the campus. Once a legal hold is in place, UMass Boston is charged with preserving every relevant document covered by the hold, including Non-Records, until the obligation has been met. 
  • Confidential Records which contain personally identifiable information (PII), are designated as confidential by state or federal law, or contain information the disclosure of which would harm either the privacy of individuals or the security or proprietary business interests of UMass Boston. 
  • Records of Historic Value - all records created prior to 1870 however, the University Archives and Special Collections may deem certain records created after 1870 to be of historic value for UMass Boston’s own purposes. For more information email the UMass Boston Library Archive.

For more information about records types refer to the “Paper Records Management, Retention, and Disposition Policy-FY15-C&C-001-00” on the Contracts and Compliance website, under the Records Retention tab.

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What is personally identifiable information (PII)?
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is sensitive information identifying an individual person or campus business; examples include social security or other ID numbers; home address, phone number, or email address; photographs or fingerprints; credit card numbers or other financial information; and medical information.  All records containing PII must be shredded. Records that contain no personal information may be recycled. When in doubt, shred! For information visit: Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

I moved and inherited the department records.  What do I do?  An employee is leaving the department.  What do I do with their records?
The Record Custodian should be contacted whenever an employee departs or records are transferred to a new Owner.  It is the responsibility of the Record Custodian to manage these records by determining the retention, disposing of records past retention, documenting records that must be retained, and determining the department Owner or staff member responsible for maintaining these records. 

What do I do with Third-Party Records?
Record Custodians should contact the Third-Party for record retention policies or consult the agreement made by the Third Party and UMass Boston.  If the Third-Party specifics record retention requirements that are longer than the UMass Boston retention period, follow the Third-Party requirements.  In general, Third-Party records should not be destroyed without consulting the third party, except as specifically stated in the applicable agreement.   

Record Custodians:

What is a Record Custodian?
A Record Custodian is responsible for managing the records of a department.  The Record Custodian is either the department head, or someone assigned by the department head.  Responsibilities include: determining record retention periods; disposing of records past their retention period; documenting, storing, or transferring records not past retention period, and managing records for employees that leave.  Record Custodians should receive training once they have been assigned.  For training contact Darryl Mayers.

Who can be a Record Custodian?
Departments are allowed to determine who should be responsible for the department’s records.  Both full-time staff and part-time staff are eligible.

How many Record Custodians can I have for my department?
Departments are allowed to have as many Record Custodians as they deem necessary to manage the volume of records in the department.  Each Record Custodian can be assigned a different type of record (financial, grant, administrative, etc.) or a different section of the department.  One primary Record Custodian should be assigned to manage record retention activities within the department.

I am not a Record Custodian, but I want to help enter data into the Records Database.  What do I do?
Contact the Record Custodian for your department.  They will contact Darryl Mayers, in the Procurement Department to inform him of the situation, and submit an “Access to Records Database Request” form.

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UMass Boston Record Retention Schedules:

Where do I find the UMass Boston Record Retention Schedules?
The most recent retention schedules can be found on the Contracts and Compliance website, under the Records Retention tab or via the following link:

How do the UMass Boston Record Retention Schedules help me with record management?
The retention schedules provide information about how long departments are required to keep records and which department is responsible for those records (Owner). . 

How do I read the UMass Boston Record Retention Schedules?
There are 10 schedules to choose from; A – Administration, B – Legal and Regulatory, C – Facilities, Transportation, and Construction, D – Fiscal, E – Personnel, F – Information and Records Management, H – Education, I – Environment and Energy, J – Public Safety, and K – Health and Human Services.  The first step to reading the schedules is to find the schedule that will most likely have the records you are looking for:

The first three columns of the retention schedules shows a records category/classification.  These categories come from the Mass State Retention Schedule and are used by Record Custodians in the Records Database. The fourth and fifth columns provide a title and description for records listed.  When using the retention schedule first focus on the fourth and fifth columns to find the records you need more information on. The sixth column is the Owner column and it explains who is responsible for keeping the original records.  Only the Owner of a record is required to keep it.  All other copies can be deposed of after administrative use ceases. The seventh and eighth column describe how long the records need to be kept.  The “Retention Period Begins” column tells you when the retention period on a record starts, and the “UMB Standard Retention Schedule” column tells you how long that retention period will last.

For example, if you are looking for how long to keep travel reimbursements they can be found on schedule “D – Fiscal,” under D4-1 “Travel Expense Records.”  These records are kept by the Controller’s Office for 12 years.  The 12 year retention begins after payment. 

Who is the Record Owner?
A Record Owner is the department responsible for keeping the original record.  For example, the Controller’s Office is the Owner for payment vouchers.  Departments may have copies of these records (which they can keep or discard based on administrative use), but it is the Controller’s responsibility to keep the records for the full retention period as stated on the retention schedules.

What does “After administrative use ceases” mean?
Records that are currently used for reference purposes have not outlived their administrative use.  Once a record is no longer useful for reference purposes its administrative use has ceased and the records can be disposed of.

I cannot find a specific record listed on the UMass Boston Retention Schedules.  What do I do?
If you cannot find a specific record type make sure to check all 10 schedules, and perform key word searches using various synonyms. If a record is not listed on the standard schedules, you must work with the Records Administrator, Darryl Mayers to determine the appropriate retention for these records. 

I cannot find a specific record listed on the “Commonly Found Records in Administrative Offices.”  What do I do?
The “Commonly Found” documents are not the official retention schedules.  They are shortened versions of the retention schedules that people can use as a reference.  For the complete list of schedules go to the Contracts and Compliance website and click the Record Retention tab.

Will I be notified when changes are made to the UMass Boston Retention Schedules?
Record Custodians will be notified about changes that are relevant to their department.  For example, if changes are made to the retention of student grades then the Registrar’s Record Custodian will be notified, because the Registrar is the Owner of student grades.

What if I have original records that are owned by another department?
Original or final versions of records belong to the record’s Owner (department responsible for those records).  It is the Owner’s responsibility to kept records for the full retention period listed on the retention schedules.  If you are in possession of original records that belong to another Owner than those records need to be transferred to the Owner department.

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Transferring records:

When do I transfer Procard and Recruitment records?
The Controller’s Office and Human Resources will call for Procard and recruitment records once a year.  Departments should hold on to records that have not passed their retention period until those records are requested.

Records Database:

Where do I find the Records Database?
A link to the Records Database can be found in the Contracts and Compliance website, under the Record Retention tab.  Or follow this link:

Can I receive training in the Records Database?
Yes, all Record Custodians are required to receive Records Database training.  For training contact Darryl Mayers.

Can I scan records into the Records Database?
No.  The Records Database is for documenting the physical location of paper records, and calculating the retention and disposition schedule.

Can I list digital records into the Records Database?
No.  The Record Database is only used for paper records.

Do I have to input each record individually into the Records Database?
No.  One data entry can equal an entire box.  If the department is not using boxes for long term storage one data entry can equal an entire filing cabinet, a filing cabinet drawer, or storage container. 

When entering a record date into the Records Database can I enter just a year (instead of year, month, day)?  Can I enter a future date?
Yes, you can type in a year instead of a year, month, and day.  You can also type in a past or future date.

What information do I need to put in the Records Database for records being stored offsite?
Name of the offsite storage company, the physical address, telephone number and the contact person.  Record Custodians can also place the offsite company’s assigned box/file number into the Records Database if they wish.  This information can be entered in the “Notes” section.

How do I prevent a department from duplicating box numbers?
If multiple Record Custodians are in your department, it can be difficult to avoid creating duplicate box numbers just using a numbering system.  The department should try numbering boxes with the initials of the Record Custodian imputing the data.  For example, Melanie Nichols’ boxes are numbered MN001, MN002, MN003, while Martha Kelly’s boxes are numbered MK001, MK002, MK003.

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Digitally Scanned Records:

Does the UMass Boston Record Retention Schedules apply to digitally scanned records?
Yes, the retention schedules can be used to determine the retention of digitally scanned files.  However, retention policies and procedures for electronic files are not currently available.  Additionally, a digitally scanned record’s retention period begins according to the original record’s creation, not the date on which the record was digitally scanned.   

What do I do with digitally scanned records?
The UMass Boston Record Retention Schedules were created for paper records, but anything on the retention schedules can apply to digitally scanned records as well.  According to Mass State regulations properly stored digital files (with multiple backups) can serve as the original version.  Physical records do not need to be kept if the digital versions are properly organized and backed up.  If your department is unsure whether there is a digital copy, a physical copy should be kept.


How do I shred records?
Follow the “Records Disposal and Shredding Guide.”  And for instructions on using the on-campus industrial shredder follow “Industrial Shredder Procedures.”  Both documents are located on the Contracts and Compliance website, under the Record Retention tab.

When should I shred records?  Do they need to be shredded the moment the retention period is reached?
All records containing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) must be shredded. PII is sensitive information identifying an individual person or campus business; examples include social security or other ID numbers; home address, phone number, or email address; photographs or fingerprints; credit card numbers or other financial information; and medical information.  Records that contain no personal information may be recycled. When in doubt, shred!

Once a year the Records Administrator Darryl Mayers, will call for records that have passed their retention period to be disposed of.  In order to protect the university from liability fiscal and administrative records should be disposed of as soon as their retention periods are reached.  Program and education records can be kept until administrative use ceases. 

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How do I store records?
Records can be stored in filing cabinets or in cardboard boxes.  If departments wish to use boxes they should use the standard 1.2 cubic foot box (10” x 12” x 15”).  The standard 1.2 cubic foot box is small enough that it can be placed on high shelves and taken down without causing injury.

Is there a storage location on campus?
No.  Records need to be stored in the department’s office or an offsite storage facility. 

Where do I store records offsite?
Contact the Procurement department for records storage information.