Record Management

All units of the university are responsible for ensuring appropriate use, retention and destruction of university records by establishing and following record management practices consistent with this policy. Retention periods for various categories of records are set forth in Appendix 1 to this policy, which will be updated as necessary. The university is committed to record management in accordance with applicable laws and regulations as well as established best practices, reasonable business judgment, and common sense. Management of records must meet legal standards, optimize the use of both electronic and physical space, preserve the university’s history, and ensure that redundant, outdated and useless records are destroyed.

Certain departments designated as official repositories are charged with setting record management standards to assure consistent record management throughout the university. Other departments must follow these standards. The media on which records are stored (for example: paper, various electronic media or film) does not change the length of time they should be retained. The protection of security and privacy of information must be integral to both the maintenance and destruction of records. Also refer to the Information Security Policy for the types of information requiring enhanced protections.

Official Repositories

Departments or individuals (i.e. principal investigators) designated as official repositories of university records bear particular responsibility for the management of university records under their care and jurisdiction. This responsibility includes the destruction of university records that have no archival value when the established retention period has passed. Standards for the retention of various categories of records are established by the official repositories listed in Appendix 1 to this policy. Departments designated as official repositories may, in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel and the Compliance Office, make changes to retention standards.

Types of Records

University records include all records created and received to support the educational, research and administrative activities of the university. They may be paper originals or copies or electronic files. Records generated as electronic mail (as e-mail or attachments) should be retained as either paper copies or stored on electronic media with appropriate storage and back-up protocols. E-mail is retained on university servers (and many departmental e-mail servers) for no longer than 1 year.

Official repositories have been established for the following types of records:

  • Employment and Payroll
  • Business and Financial
  • Student
  • Research
  • Donor
  • Archival

Please contact the official repository with questions you have about established retention standards for the types of records under their care. Questions concerning legal requirements for the retention of university records not listed in the appendix should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel at (213) 740-7922.

Changes in Record Retention Periods

Record retention periods may be increased by government regulation, judicial or administrative consent order, private or governmental contract, pending litigation or audit requirements. Such modifications supersede the requirements established by the official repositories. Any record that is related to any litigation, claim, financial management review, audit, investigation, or subpoena must be retained until the litigation, claim, financial management review, audit, investigation, or subpoena has been fully addressed or resolved and final action taken. Suspension of record destruction required for any of these reasons will be accomplished by notice from the Office of the General Counsel or the Office of Compliance.

Archival Records

The University Archives are a component of the USC Libraries Special Collections. The archive promotes knowledge and understanding of the university’s origins, aims, programs, and goals. The records permanently stored in the archive include records and reports of the university, its officers and component parts, including faculty and students; maps and architectural records; audiovisual materials including still photographs and negatives, motion picture film, oral history interviews, audio and video tapes; and artifacts and ephemera documenting the university’s history. Archival records are inactive records no longer retained to meet legal standards or serve an educational or administrative purpose, but which have permanent or historic value. The university archives will not accept records which require the enhanced security and privacy standards detailed in the Information Security Policy. For information concerning the archiving of records, consult the university archivist at (213) 740-2587.

Responsible Office

Office of the General Counsel
(213) 740-7922

Issued by

Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President, Administration
Chrysostomos L. Nikias, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs
University of Southern California