Records Retention and Disposition at SUNY
In accordance with Section 57.05 of the NYS Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, official records of the state-operated campuses of the State University of New York and SUNY System Administration must be retained and may not be destroyed unless pursuant to applicable records retention schedules. Information that no longer serves a legal, operational, or historic value to SUNY and its campuses should be disposed of in accordance with the SUNY Records Retention Schedules. SUNY's Records Retention Policy codifies the retention periods for the various records housed by SUNY campuses. SUNY Policy 6609 has a series of appendices (available through the policy and also on the Records Retention compliance webpage) that lists all the various records, and the specific period that a campus must retain them, and what records must be kept permanently. This SUNY policy and appendices has been pre-approved by State Archives and the Office of the State Comptroller. When the SUNY Schedule does not cover a particular record, SUNY campuses are to defer to the New York State schedule (available on the State Archives website) for the proper retention period.
Campuses shall utilize appropriate means to ensure compliance with the applicable schedules and retention periods. Records that have reached the end of their retention period shall be destroyed by appropriate means depending on the contents and nature of the records giving due consideration to the confidentiality of the information contained therein. Notification that the records are subject to a litigation hold or are otherwise relevant to a legal action or audit shall result in suspension of routine destruction activities until the records are no longer needed as determined by University Counsel.
WHY Follow the Records Retention Schedule: Records Management is Critical to Compliance
When the records retention schedules are followed proactively, they help SUNY to avoid risks and preserve resources. Consequences of inadequate Records Management include:
If you have specific questions about what can, and cannot be disposed of, please contact the Records Management Officer at SUNY System Administration.
What is a Record:
Any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with or for an agency or the state legislature, in any physical form whatsoever including, but not limited to, reports, statements, examinations, memoranda, opinions, folders, files, books, manuals, pamphlets, forms, papers, designs, drawings, maps, photos, letters, microfilms, computer tapes or discs, rules, regulations or codes. (According to SUNY's FOIL (Compliance with Freedom of Information Law) policy, Document Number 6601).
Background on SUNY Records Retention Generally & the SUNY Records Schedule
SUNY has a Records Retention Policy that codifies the retention periods for the various records housed by SUNY campuses. The policy has a series of appendices (available through the policy and also on the Records Retention compliance webpage) that list all the various records, and the specific period that a campus must retain them. This SUNY policy and appendices has been pre-approved by State Archives and OSC, and when they are followed proactively, they help SUNY to avoid risks on the back end, including data breaches and audit requests that span back farther than the SUNY schedule requires us to keep them for, and also helps to save on storage costs and IT costs. When the SUNY Schedule does not cover a particular record, SUNY campuses are to defer to the New York State schedule (available on the State Archives website) for the proper retention period.
SUNY Records Retention Schedules
SUNY Records Management Officers
Each campus has designated a local Record Management Officer (RMO) to ensure compliance with the SUNY records retention schedule at their campuses. Campuses must notify the SUNY System-Wide Records Management Officer of the local campus RMO designee. RMO's are responsible for facilitating compliance with the Records Retention schedules and maintaining a campus inventory of records.Requests for approval of retention schedules with shorter retention periods should be submitted by a campus through their local RMO to the SUNY RMO for transmittal to State Archives.
Conversion of Records to Electronic Format
Periodically, campuses or the System Administration may decide to replace official records in paper with electronic or digital copies. Most records in the SUNY Schedule have been pre-authorized for replacement in the SUNY Records Retention Schedule such that paper records which have been scanned or otherwise converted may be destroyed prior to the end of their retention period. If not pre-authorized, replacement and destruction of paper records can occur only upon approval by State Archives. Such approval requests shall be made by the SUNY Records Management Officer upon request of the campus concerned. Campuses intending to replace paper records with electronic or imaged copies are required to ensure that: (1) the images will accurately and completely reproduce all the information in the records being imaged; (2) the imaged records will not be rendered unusable due to changing or proprietary technology before their retention and preservation requirements are met; (3) the imaging system will not permit additions, deletions, or changes to the images without leaving a record of such additions, deletions, or changes; and (4) designees of the State University of New York will be able to authenticate the imaged records by competent testimony or affidavit which shall include the manner or method by which tampering or degradation of the reproduction is prevented.
Community College Records
Records maintained by the Community Colleges operating under the program of the State University of New York are governed by one of two schedules established by State Archives. MI-1 schedule (for all miscellaneous governments) is to be followed by Adirondack, Columbia-Greene, Corning, Fulton-Montgomery, Jamestown, North Country and Tompkins-Cortland Community Colleges and the Fashion Institute of Technology. CO-2 schedule (for county governments) should be followed by all other Community Colleges.
Generally, records transmitted through e-mail systems have the same retention periods as records in other formats that are related to the same function or activity. E-mail records should be scheduled for disposition in conjunction with any other records related to that function or activity. Campus and University officials may delete, purge, or destroy e-mail records if the records have been retained for the minimum retention period established in the RR&D Schedule and are not being retained for a legal action or otherwise subject to a litigation hold or for an audit. Transitory messages may be destroyed when no longer needed. For further guidance on the disposition of e-mail messages and attachments, see item 90369 in the State Archives’General Retention and Disposition Schedule for New York State Government Records.
Archival and Historical Records
In order to preserve records of historical and archival value, certain categories of records are to be retained permanently. Among these are Presidents’ annual reports, minutes of campus councils, governance organization minutes or handbooks, inaugural or commencement records and important documents generated by or for the campuses such as strategic plans, accreditation reports, etc. Campuses should adhere carefully to the schedules for such records, retain them in a safe place and ensure their preservation when they are no longer needed on a daily basis.
SUNY Records Management Resources
SUNY Records Management Listserv: contact the Records Management Officer at SUNY System Administration to become a member of the Records Management Officer listserv.
SUNY Records Retention Schedules
Other Records Retention Resources
SUNY College at Brockport Records Retention Awareness Installment 1 Video Series
NYALGO, New York Association of Local Government Records Officers
For questions related to Records Retention and Disposition, please contact Nedra Abbruzzese-Werling, Records Management Officer of SUNY.
The information contained on the SUNY Compliance website is for general campus guidance only and is not intended, nor can be relied upon, as legal advice or the imposition on SUNY campuses of specific policies or requirements. The site is intended to be an informational-only clearinghouse for some of the laws, rules, and regulations that may impact the State University of New York’s campuses. Additionally, given the rapid, changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, there may be delays or omissions contained on this site which therefore cannot be relied upon as complete. For complete compliance information, consult your campus compliance officials or the SUNY Compliance Administrator. For legal advice, consult your lawyer.