Tool

General Records Schedule

A tool to help faculty, staff and administrators identify the types of records they may have in their offices and how long to archive and keep them.

The General Records Schedule (GRS) is a University policy developed by Records Management Services that provides instruction on how long you must keep different types of records (retention) and how records should be destroyed or transferred to the Archives (disposition) once they have fulfilled their retention requirements.

Launch General Records Schedule

The GRS is designed to make it easier for all University employees to make thoughtful and legally defensible decisions about keeping and disposing of records. The University as an institution and individual University offices both benefit from complying with the General Records Schedule. The GRS:

  • Promotes office efficiency
  • Provides for the appropriate disposition of obsolete records
  • Reduces University liability exposure
  • Ensures compliance with laws and regulations
  • Helps preserve the University's history

What the GRS Covers

The GRS covers common records found throughout the University – accounts payable, personnel files, program planning, publications, student records, and special events are just a few examples. The GRS applies to records in all formats, including paper records, electronic records such as Word documents, spreadsheets and databases, and e-mail.

How the GRS is Organized

The GRS is organized into broad functional categories, including facilities, finance, human resources, executive and management, special programs, alumni and development, faculty and academic centers, and student activities and services. Each category contains entries for specific types of records. For example, the human resources category contains entries for employee personnel records, faculty personnel records, and search records (among other series). Each entry contains a description of the records and examples of the types of documents you might find in those files. There is also a retention statement that tells you how long to keep the records. Records that have historical value and may be appropriate for transfer to the University Archives are indicated in the retention plan by the phrases "contact archives," transfer to archives," and "retain permanently."

What if I don't find my records in the GRS?

Although the General Records Schedule covers many types of records created at the University, your office may create unique records that are not represented in the GRS. Records Management Services works with offices to create special retention schedules for records not in the General Records Schedule. In the process, RMS reviews the records, gathers information from the office about the records' use and value, and creates a records schedule that meets the needs of the office and the obligations of the University. If you do not find an entry in the GRS for some of your records, please contact archives_rms@harvard.edu to discuss them.