What is a Records Schedule?

Records retention schedules, or Records Retention and Disposition Authorities (RDAs or RRDAs), dictate to offices throughout the state of Wisconsin how long to keep their records (called the retention period) and what to do with those records once that time has passed (called the disposition instructions). UWM produces many records which are scheduled under general records schedules, which are schedules which cover record types produced by multiple offices. Some units at UWM may also be covered by specific records schedules, which dictate retention and disposition of records for that office only. Under Wisconsin state law, records may not be destroyed unless they have been scheduled under an approved records retention schedule. All records schedules sunset, or expire, after 10 years, at which point their associated records groups must be re-scheduled.

To determine whether your office produces scheduled records, please consult the following pages, which are listed in decreasing order of generality:

Wisconsin Department of Administration Records Schedules

These schedules apply to records produced by all state government agencies, including the University of Wisconsin. In many cases the UW System has opted out of these schedules, so consult with the records officer before taking disposition actions based on these schedules.

UW Systemwide Records Schedules

Schedules applying to records common to all UW System institutions, now available in a searchable, filterable chart. The source PDFs for these records schedules are available on the UW System Records Management site.

Specific Records Schedules

Records schedules which apply only to a particular office, department, or other campus unit. Please contact the records officer for a list of your specific office’s schedules.

What if my records have no associated retention schedules, or the schedules are expired or otherwise in need of updating?

Contact Records Management to set up an appointment for a records survey. Please fill out a Record Series Description Worksheet and email or send a hard copy via campus mailer to the archives in advance of your appointment in order to expedite the process.

I’ve met with the Records Officer and signed off on new retention schedules. Now what?

All records retention schedules must be approved by the Public Records Board before they go into effect. The Public Records Board (PRB) meets on a quarterly basis to discuss schedules received from state agencies and either approve or return schedules with suggested changes. To ensure timely receipt and approval by the PRB, all proposed schedules should be signed and returned to the Records Officer by their deadline. Please contact UWM Records Management for deadline information. Once the schedules are approved, the records manager will return copies to offices for reference and dissemination among staff.

When do new approved retention schedules take effect?

Immediately! Records retention schedules are also retroactive, which means that if you have, for example, 6 year-old records scheduled for destruction 3 years after creation, you may dispose of those records upon receipt of the approved schedule.