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General Questions

Retention periods are based on state, federal, and private sponsor requirements. These requirements are identified by UW Records Management Services and approved by the State Records Committee.

Consult the University General Records Retention Schedule and check to see if your department has a supplemental Departmental Records Retention Schedule.

For more information, see University of Washington Retention Schedules.

By the way, these retention periods also apply to email, word documents, and other electronic records. For more information, see our resource on Email Management.

If you can’t find a record series on the General Schedule it is because

  1. the record is no longer being created;
  2. it needs to be added to the schedule;
  3. you might use a different name for this type of record.

Contact us at or 543-0573 and we will help you find the appropriate record series and determine how long to keep it.

Yes, we have responsibility for keeping records for their full retention period regardless of whether they are still being created or used. You are always welcome to send the records to the University Records Center for inactive storage. At the end of the retention period, with your approval, we will take responsibility for destroying them.

Although no longer being created, Form 220s are still a very important record that needs to be maintained by the University. Please send any Form 220 you find to Human Resources, Box 354963.

Yes, if you are being audited or have received notice of an audit, if there is litigation regarding the records (or even pending litigation), or if there is a public records request—the responsive records should not be destroyed until the matter is resolved and their retention period has ended. We consider that a “Destruction Hold” has been placed on the relevant records. Records of any format can be subject to Destruction Holds, including webpages, emails, voicemails, texts, video, and handwritten notes.

Not exactly. The retention clock keeps ticking through the “Destruction Hold”. If a retention period ends while the records are still on hold, do not destroy the records. The records should not be destroyed until both the “Destruction Hold” has been lifted and the retention period has ended.

Yes, because we try to squeeze as many boxes as possible into the Records Center, our shelves are configured for only one box size. Commonly known as "banker's boxes", you can order these boxes from Office Depot. The box size is 10x12x15. Item Number 199570; Item Number 323829; and Item Number 198802 are all acceptable. See All About THE BOX.

As there are a variety of regulations regarding the privacy of records, so too are there a number of offices at the university responsible for policies which oversee confidentiality. Regardless, while assuring the privacy requirements of our records are met, we must still observe the proper retention period outlined in our state-approved retention schedules. The records must remain able to be located and viewed by individuals with appropriate security clearance until such time as they can be properly disposed of.

For more information about implementing proper security for your files, please contact the Human Subjects Division for Grant/Contract records, the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer, or the Privacy Office.

Records will either be designated “Transfer to Archives for Review” or “Archival” on a Records Retention Schedule. Records that fall into these categories will be reviewed by the University Archivist who will determine whether to bring them into the archival collection of the UW. If the Archivist does not decide to accept specific records, regardless of their designation, the records can be either shredded or recycled at the end of their retention period.

Yes, any policies or procedures with which we expect our employees to comply are considered historical or “Archival” records. These records are considered permanent. A copy should be captured and transferred to the University Archives before the policy or procedure is revised. See the series on Policies and Procedures in the General Office Administration Records section of the University General Records Retention Schedule.

Our office does offer training on a variety of records management topics. Our most recent training materials can be viewed on our Records Management Training & Guides webpage. Subscribe to our listserv to be notified when upcoming free trainings are offered.

If you do not see the training you are interested in, please contact us at or 543-0573. We also provide customized on-site events and 1-on-1 consultations for individual offices.