Pull that trigger… to sentence records

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When you look at disposal actions in a schedule are you left wondering what they mean and how you can implement them? With the latest release of the General retention and disposal schedule (GRDS), we have made some changes to disposal actions, including triggers, to try and clear up some of the uncertainty surrounding the sentencing of records. Triggers are all about connecting your business processes to a retention period for the records your agency creates. Making triggers clearer, so that sentencing of records relates back to the completion of the business process for that record, can help you to manage your records. Of course, there are always tricky records that you should review before making a final disposal decision too!

So what’s changed in the GRDS?

First up, you may notice that records with a permanent retention now have a clearer action to help agencies manage these records. Records with a permanent retention are those of enduring value that can come to QSA to maintain in perpetuity once your agency’s business need has ceased. There is now a clear direction to transfer these records once business action is completed. Regularly transferring these records to QSA can help you avoid creating paper (or digital, in time!) mountains.

For records which need to be retained permanently by the agency, the revised action is now clearer and should be easier to implement too.

The new general disposal trigger is ‘X years after business action completed’. We hope this revised disposal trigger will make it easier to calculate the retention period for specific records as the trigger improves the connection between the business need and the length of time that the records must be retained. This connection is important so you can have your records available when you need them and you can make sure that you are meeting your legislative and recordkeeping responsibilities. It is up to you and your agency to determine what ‘business action’ means to your business.

‘Until business action completed’ is also now used in the transitory and short term records. These revised triggers move away from the use of the term ‘last action’ which you’ve told us can complicate the calculation of a final end date for the record. For further explanations of all disposal triggers, see the disposal trigger entry in the QSA Glossary.

We do know that sometimes it can be hard to sentence records for disposal in an electronic recordkeeping system even with simplified triggers. This can happen because the records don’t have a clearly defined final action or business use. In these cases, you might decide to input a trigger in your recordkeeping system to review these records after a nominal period so you can decide whether the final business action has occurred. Do you have clever ways of dealing with trigger challenges? Comment below as we’d love to hear from you.

For more advice on the disposal of records, please visit the QSA website. Remember, you can contact us via email, telephone (3037 6630), blog or Twitter.

Allison Drechshage

Appraisal Archivist

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