This phase in the record lifecycle is the most difficult to define and control This phase in the record lifecycle is the most difficult to define and control

Records' evidential value often far exceeds their informational value. During the semi-active stage, we need to consider record survey, retention of the audit trail, retention management, and records appraisal.

  • Record survey (information audit). We need to conduct a comprehensive audit of all records held covering the processes which create them, and measures to manage them. This is a large undertaking, but yields significant benefits. It is the first and most important step towards gaining control of records. Other benefits include: finding unnecessary duplication of records, streamlining business processes, determining where records are held for too long, identifying areas where training in records management is required, finding vital records, establishing economies of scale, and defining preservation requirements. 
  • Retention management. A retention schedule is a list of records for which a known destruction date exists. The aim of the record survey is to find those categories of record for which there is a disposal date, and to determine how long to retain records to satisfy operational, legal, regulatory purposes.

Records should be kept for as long as their contents have operational value, and required as evidence of transactions. Keeping records costs the institution money (storage, physical space, FOI). 

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 (principle 5), we cannot keep records with personal data longer than for the stated purpose for which it was obtained. It is therefore recommended that we adopt and adapt the JISC HE retention schedule . When selecting IT systems, we should consider how retention will be handled.

We should take steps to prevent unauthorised access and accidental loss, destruction or damage to personal data (DPA principle 7). This applies through the lifecycle, but it is in semi-active that it tends to get forgotten. We could consider adopting a clear desk policy, where staff are asked to lock away confidential or sensitive information.