Meet remotely with the ROT Squad

What is ROT?

ROT is the acronym for Redundant, Obsolete, and Transitory. At the University, ROT consists of any records that legally can and should be destroyed. ROT accumulates over time, in paper and electronic form, and inherited ROT is a common challenge for many employees. It's easy for an office to fall into the trap of holding onto ROT, but it can represent a serious legal, privacy, and security risk to the University as well as being a significant drain on efficiency.

The ROT Squad Is on the Case

Records Management Services created the ROT Squad to give you the tools to tackle your ROT and keep it from coming back. Emily and Lynn are Compliance Analysts who will consult with you to help diagnose your ROT and to create a plan that will eradicate what you currently have and prevent the accumulation of ROT in the future. They meet with both individuals and groups to discuss both paper and electronic records. This is a free service to UW offices, departments, and individuals on all three campuses.

Click Here to Schedule a ROT Squad Consult

What to Expect in a ROT Squad Consult

  • >  We won't haul your paper away, but we will advise on which records to keep vs. shred, recycle, or archive.
  • >  We won't look at every file or folder ourselves, but we will teach you how to identify record series and act independently.
  • > Use our Pre-Consult Checklist to prepare for your consult. We designed the checklist to help you identify ROT to target, plan your cleanup project scope, and envision your future organized state.
  • >  We won't make you feel guilty about your ROT. We offer encouragement and concrete steps to move you forward.
  • >  We come to your location, on any campus. We can also meet remotely via Zoom.
  • >  We help you create a plan to tackle your existing ROT and establish best practices to prevent it.
  • >  We keep it informal and encourage dialog. Our office also offers more structured in-person and online trainings.
  • >  We show you how to gather quick metrics to demonstrate the impact of your ROT clean up initiative.

Tools to Reduce ROT Right Now

The ROT Squad Works

discarded ROT paper piles on desk

A recent ROT Squad consult unearthed dusty paper files ready for shredding... plus 8,000 electronic files!

 

Great information and I feel like everyone who came got their specific questions answered. - Virginia

 

This information definitely not only helps me, but helps figure out what I should send to Archives. - Andrew

 

This is awesome... I’ll get my team together and we’ll come up with a feasible plan to get this place cleaned up. - Mandy

FAQ


Materials That May Be Disposed of Without A Specific Retention Period

The following materials are considered to have no administrative, legal, fiscal or archival requirements for their retention. They may be disposed of as soon as they have served their reference purpose. Shred, recycle or delete as appropriate. See also: Electronic Records that do not need to be printed or saved.

Need help cleaning out your Redundant, Obsolete, and Transitory records? Contact the ROT Squad today!

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Records generated as part of the brainstorming/collaboration process. This activity can occur in email as well as in collaborative cloud applications like Slack, JIRA, SmartSheet, or on flip charts, notepaper, post-it notes, email, etc.

Official Copy:  Any Office
Retention:  Reference purpose served
Disposition Method:  Recycle or Delete

Incorrect versions of documents, forms or reports that had to be regenerated in order to correct errors in typing, data entry, spelling, grammar, or format.

Retention: May be disposed of as soon as the reference purpose has been served.  Please shred, recycle or delete as appropriate.

Drafts may be disposed of as soon as the document is finalized and are no longer needed for reference purposes. Please shred, recycle or delete as appropriate.

Extra copies of correspondence, completed forms, bulletins, statistics, reports, hardcopy printouts from a database (including e-procurement purchase orders and reports), electronic files extracted from a master file or database, mailing lists, etc., used only for reference or informational distribution. Also includes unsigned forms, contracts, meeting minutes and other records created electronically that are not complete until they are signed.

Retention: May be disposed of as soon as the reference purpose has been served. Please shred, recycle or delete as appropriate.

The following electronic records do not have to be saved or printed because they are extracted from a master file or database. Reports printed from a database are considered duplicates and can be destroyed as soon as they have served their reference purpose. They will be visible and accessible for their full retention period in the system of record and can be reprinted as needed. You should never print e-mails - the official copy is the original digital version.

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Documents derived from a master file or database in the form of statistics, reports, hardcopy printouts, mailing lists,  auto-generated notifications and reminders, etc. Includes emails.  These records will be visible and accessible for their full retention period in the system of record and can be reprinted as needed. Refer to list of electronic records that do not need to be printed or saved.

Retention: May be disposed of as soon as the reference purpose has been served.  Please shred, recycle or delete as appropriate.

Communications and postings that do not relate to the functional responsibility of the department (i.e., announcements of meetings, reservations, confirmations, itineraries, acknowledgements, form-letter thank you notes, etc.).

Retention: May be disposed of as soon as the reference purpose has been served.  Please shred, recycle or delete as appropriate.

Lists/logs containing information tracked by a department from which elements are superseded as new data/information is received, where not covered by a more specific records series. Includes membership lists and contact information.

Retention: May be disposed of as soon as the reference purpose has been served.  Please shred, recycle or delete as appropriate.

Records relating to the assigning, prioritizing, tracking/monitoring and status of work/projects in progress.  This activity can occur in workflow notifications, status logs, Excel, Kanban boards, electronic tracking applications such as Trello, Kerika, AirTable, etc. 

Note: For financial charges relating to work in progress, refer to Billing Source Documents.

Official Copy: Any Office
Retention: Reference purpose served
Disposition Method: Recycle or Delete

Printed materials received from other UW offices, vendors or other non-UW institutions, which require no action and are not needed for documentary purposes. May include technical reports/studies, magazines, catalogs, periodicals, flyers, announcements, newsletters and other widely distributed printed materials received by a UW office.

Retention: May be disposed of as soon as the reference purpose has been served.  Please shred, recycle or delete as appropriate.

Internal and external requests for routine information.  Includes responses to requests for routine, standardized information applicable to any requestor in a comparable situation.

Retention: Retain until after the information has been sent or received.

Supplies (multiple copies) of departmentally-produced printed documents which are superseded, obsolete or otherwise valueless. May include program brochures, booklets, flyers, forms, catalogs, directories, manuals, posters and other informational materials produced by a department for wide distribution. 

NOTE: One copy of all UW publications should be sent to the University Archives at Box 352900. Contact them to send materials electronically.

Retention: May be disposed of as soon as the reference purpose has been served.  Please shred, recycle or delete as appropriate.

The retention for email is based on the content of each individual email.

Emails that simply request or provide information are transitory and can be deleted as soon as a reply is given or received. Examples of transitory emails include emails that:

  • Answer directional questions such as:
    • "How do I apply for this program?"
    • "What are your office hours?"
    • "When is the test?"                                                        
  • Or provide generic information:
    • Explaining/clarifying a variety of general university policies (ex. S/NS vs. annual drop, low scholarship and satisfactory progress)
    • Events (on-campus, off-campus)
    • Grading policy
    • Major/minor—/eligibility/number of credits necessary
    • Opportunities (ex. jobs, internships, scholarships)
    • Parents/FERPA
    • Redirection to another office (the cc question)
    • Registration when/how/where/eligibility/reminders
    • Transfer students
  • Or contain information or links from a source such as a website, database, or content management system.

Official Copy: Any Advisory Office
Retention: End of academic year
Disposition Method: Shred or Delete

Emails which accompany an attachment, document, report, form, etc., that do not add any substantive information to the transmitted material.

Retention: May be disposed of as soon as the reference purpose has been served.  Please delete as appropriate.