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Office of Compliance Programs

Document Retention Policy and Procedure Training for Department Heads and Business Managers

Revised: January 6, 2017

Purpose

LSUHSC-NO must comply with state and federal records retention requirements in order to provide appropriate access to state information to the public and to limit the potential liability of the University in a legal proceeding. This tutorial will explain the requirements of the law and how to comply with LSUHSC-NO’s Records Retention policy.

Outline

Background

Louisiana’s Public Records Act (LA R.S. 44.1 et seq.) requires that “...a statewide system of managing and preserving government records which will meet informational requirements and serve the rights and interest of government and its citizens...” be developed. This system is administered through the Louisiana Division of Archives, Records Management and History located in the Secretary of State’s Office.

The Division of Archives, Records Management and History is required to establish standards and guidelines to ensure the state's official records are created and maintained efficiently, economically, and in a manner that guarantees their public accessibility. Additionally, the law requires that each state agency designate a Records Officer to work with the Division of Archives, Records Management, and History regarding that agency's records management needs.

LSUHSC-NO’s Records Officer is designated by the Chancellor annually.

What is Considered a Record?

Louisiana Revised Statutes 44:402 defines a Record as “all:

regardless of physical form or characteristic, generated or received under law or in connection with the transaction of official business, or preserved by an agency or political subdivision because of other informational or legal value.”

What is not considered a “Record”?

The term "record" shall not be construed to include:

Content of the Record

The content, or what the record is about, controls the length of time that the records must be maintained. For example, emails regarding patient care should be maintained for the same retention period as the retention period of paper patient care records.

Scope of LSUHSC-NO's Retention Policy

This policy applies to all records (written, electronic or any other form) maintained by the LSUHSC-NO campus, including but not limited to:

Appendix A of the LSUHSC-NO Records Retention Policy contains the definitions of the above categories of records.

LSUHSC-NO’s Records Retention Policy and Schedule

In order to comply with the legal retention requirements, the University has created the LSUHSC-NO Records Retention and Disposition Policy and Records Retention Schedule. Both the policy and retention schedule can be found on the Office of Compliance Programs (OCP) website.

Record Series

The Retention Schedule organizes the University's records into Record Series based on the content of the records and time amount of time the records should be retained.

Retention Period

The Retention Period is the amount of time that a record in a record series must be retained priot to itsdestruction. This is usually expressed in terms of the number of years after the record is actively referenced.

Destruction of Records

Once the Retention Period for a set of records has expired, LSUHSC-NO may request permission from Division of Archives, Records Management and History to destroy the records. The process for obtaining permission to destroy records is as follows:

Step 1: Identification of Retention Period of the Records to be Destroyed

Step 2: Obtain Approval from State Archives

Step 3: Disposal of Records-Paper

Disposal of Records--Electronic

Permission to destroy electronic records must be obtained as described above for paper records. Electronic records that contain Protected or Restricted information (as defined by PM-36) must be disposed of in accordance with PM-36.

Hold Procedures

In certain cases, the destruction of records must be put on “hold” even though the retention period has expired.

Litigation and Audit Holds

Consequences of Non-compliance with Policy

  • Failure to place a hold on records relevant to the litigation and those records are subsequently destroyed may cause a presumption in the litigation that those records would have been harmful to LSUHSC-NO’s position.
  • In the court case, Zubulake v. UBS Warburg, the defendant UBS was held accountable for the negligent destruction of emails and other documents, even though the employee was following the company’s published records retention policy.
  • The key failure the court found was that there was a “reasonable expectation” a lawsuit would be filed and therefore, normal retention procedures should have been suspended.
  • While a litigation hold may have been in place, the employee was not trained in the proper procedures for suspending the normal destruction procedures.
  • After the conclusion of this case, both the federal and state court systems amended the rules of procedure to prevent parties from destroying documents relevant to the litigation.
  • Failure to comply with the LSUHSC-NO Records Retention policy may place the University at risk of liability for not being able to properly respond to records requests in the following ways:
  • Recent Event involving Records Retention

    Any Questions?

    We Are Here to Help!

    Office of Compliance Programs

    433 Bolivar St.

    Suite 807

    New Orleans, LA 70112

    568-5135

    nocompliance@lsuhsc.edu