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My Recent Comments
The initial advice about checking laws and regulations should have been presented in BOLD TYPE, as much of the information that follows it is rather suspect. It depends in part on what you do and who you are as an organization how much risk you are willing to accept by discarding information/records on such short cycles. For one thing, ALMOST ALL retention periods are based on an annual or FY cutoff, then X years from that point.
If you are highly regulated or perform work under contract to a Federal, State or Local agency you need to find out from them what the retention requirements are. If you ANTICIPATE possible litigation on any matter, ALL destruction of records related to it must cease immediately and this must be communicated to any/all in your organization periodically as long as the destruction moratorium is in effect.
If you are a non-profit or not for profit, or a corporation, financial records supporting your tax returns must be retained for 25 years following your filing (for personal returns it's 7 years following a filing). Specific IRS regulations can be found here http://goo.gl/I8uko
The citation to the FRCP regarding ESI (electronically stored information) is good advice, but the general rule is retention is not based on the media form or format the information exists in, it is based on the relative VALUE and subject matter of the content, REGARDLESS of media form.
Also, many fall into the trap of choosing to scan or image paper source records and store them digitally, then discard the paper. While this may make sense on the surface, if the imaged materials are not indexed (filed) in a manner that you can easily retrieve them when needed, of if the quality of the images is so poor they aren't legible then you STILL need to produce the original records. Consider the cost of the labor (effort) to scan/image, verify the quality and index them, along with the cost to check them periodically and migrate the images to avoid obsolescence or degradation of format or media over 25 years (if you are a corporation) and you may not actually be saving anything over storing the paper. This is especially true if you don't routinely access the information or have to share it with multiple people.
Regarding destruction of records- it depends (again) on the content. Special care has to be taken when discarding anything that contains PII (Personally Identifiable Information), PHI (Personal Health Information), PFI (Personal Financial Information), IP (Intellectual Property), trade secrets or any confidential, classified or other sensitive information. Not only is this critical when destroying it, but when storing it locally, sending it or otherwise transmitting it to others.
These are not "Human Resource" issues, they are Records Management issues.Jan 9, 2012