Records Management Standards and Procedures
6.3 Retention Periods
Definition: Retention Period
A retention period is the length of time a record is to be retained in the
active or semi-active phase of its life cycle. Retention periods vary
depending on the record’s use, value, physical format, and relationship to
Retention periods in the ARCS/ORCS schedules are linked to primary and
secondary classification numbers. (Refer to appendix A for example.)
Retention Periods: Active Records
For active records, retention periods are measured by 12-month
sequence (begins in any month and ends 12 months later), calendar
year (begins January 1 and ends December 31), or fiscal year (begins April 1
and ends March 31). In ARCS and ORCS, fixed and variable active
record retention periods are used.
A fixed retention period means that files maintain their active status for a
predetermined time period. Examples of fixed retention periods:
The following guidelines apply to active records with fixed retention
- 1y indicates that the record is to be retained for a 12-month period (1Y)
from the last action or closure of the file. For example, if a record with
an active retention period of “1y” was closed in August, 1995, it would
remain active until August, 1996, after which it would move to the next
phase (semi-active or final disposition).
- CY+1y indicates that the record is to be retained in its active phase for
the calendar year (CY), plus one more year (+1y). For example, if a
record with an active retention of “CY+1y” was closed in February,
1995, it would remain active until December 31, 1996, after which it
would move to the next phase (semi-active or final disposition).
- FY+1y indicates that the record is to be retained in its active phase for
the fiscal year (FY), plus one more year (+1y). For example, if a
record with an active retention of “FY+1y” was closed in February,
1995, it would remain active until March 31, 1996, after which it would
move to the next phase (semi-active or final disposition).
The variable retention period designation “SO” (Superseded or Obsolete)
is used where the end of the active period of an event or entity cannot be
predetermined in the ARCS or ORCS schedule. The definition of
superseded or obsolete varies from classification to classification. For
- Some files, such as accounts payable files, are traditionally closed
after each fiscal year.
- An active file may include more than one volume, and all volumes
must remain in the active records area.
1070-20/ CONTRACTS - CONSULTANT/PROFESSIONAL
Contract case files
SO = “upon expiry of the contract and completion of any
11250-45 ROADS - FORESTS SERVICES
SO = “when the road is de-activated or responsibility is
transferred to another agency”
877-20 VEHICLE - ROAD - VEHICLE ADMINISTRATION
Vehicle unit history files
SO = “upon disposal of vehicle”
Different case files within the same classification will often reach the end of
their active retention period at different times. For example, the record
classification “877-20” (cited above) has an active retention period of SO =
“upon disposal of vehicle.” A branch may have several vehicles, each with
its individual vehicle history case file. Since the vehicles are disposed of
at various times, each case file will reach the end of its active period at a
time that varies from other vehicle history files in the office.
The following guidelines apply to active records with variable
- Review subject files with SO retention periods to determine if the
information on the file is still current, or has been superseded by newer
information or rendered obsolete.
- Consult with program staff on a regular basis to ensure files with SO
retentions are moved to their next phase at the appropriate time.
- If all information in a file is superseded or obsolete, close the file and
move it to the next phase.
Retention Periods: Semi-active Records
For semi-active records, retention periods are measured by calendar year,
beginning with the date on which the record begins its semi-active phase,
and ending 12 months later. For example, the designation “2y” indicates
that the semi-active record has a retention period of two years. In other
words, if the record was moved to its semi-active phase February 1, 1995,
it would remain semi-active until February 1, 1997, after which it would
move to the next phase (final disposition).
Retention Schedules: OPR/non-OPR
For each record, the Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR) is the holder of
the “master record” within the ministry and will retain it for the (usually)
longer OPR retention schedule. This allows other offices to apply the
shorter non-OPR schedules to other copies of the record.
MOF is currently assigning ministry OPR designations for ARCS
classifications, and until this project is finished, all offices should apply
OPR retentions to all of their ARCS records, with the exception of a limited
number of ARCS schedules that have a designated OPR. This designation
will be noted in the schedule scope note.
OPR designations for operational records are assigned in the ORCS
- Administrative Records Classification System manual, “How to Use”
[ Prev page | Next page |
Table of Contents | Search this document ]
[ ISB Home
| MoF Home
| B.C. Home
Information Management Group, B.C. Ministry of Forests
Comments to: RMHELP
This page last updated: December 31, 1995.