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Records Management - Destruction of Records

Records Management - Destruction of Records

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Published by Mario Rieger
Retention and destruction of company records must be carried out according to established policies and in the due course of business in order to avoid legal penalties should they be required for litigation. Court decisions have confirmed that inconsistent, selective, and inaccurate destruction of records may be viewed as a deliberate attempt by companies to obstruct justice or conceal harmful information.
Retention and destruction of company records must be carried out according to established policies and in the due course of business in order to avoid legal penalties should they be required for litigation. Court decisions have confirmed that inconsistent, selective, and inaccurate destruction of records may be viewed as a deliberate attempt by companies to obstruct justice or conceal harmful information.

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Published by: Mario Rieger on Sep 30, 2009
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12/26/2012

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30.09.2009 Mario Rieger

Destruction of Records
Retention and destruction of company records must be carried out according to established policies and in the due course of business in order to avoid legal penalties should they be required for litigation. Court decisions have confirmed that inconsistent, selective, and inaccurate destruction of records may be viewed as a deliberate attempt by companies to obstruct justice or conceal harmful information.

Eliminate Unnecessary Records Based on Inventory
Completing the record inventory will identify any duplicate records within the company. Destroying duplicate records first, if they are not on litigation hold, will reduce the number of records that need to be reviewed against the new retention schedule. It will also identify how much space has been utilized by the maintenance of unnecessary duplicates and give an indication of how storage space may be reduced.

Scheduled Destruction of Records
Digitally signed by Mario Rieger DN: cn=Mario Rieger, o, ou, email=mario_rieger@we b.de, c=US Reason: I am the author of this document Date: 2009.09.30 13:44:02 +02'00'

Mario Rieger

Elimination of obsolete records in accordance with an established records management program can help protect the company’s position in the event of legal

matters. Records must be reviewed against the RRS to identify which records have met their requirements and can be destroyed. Before destroying eligible records, identify if any existing conditions that would cause destruction to be halted, i.e. a pending audit, litigation, or regulatory investigation. Flag those records, if any, which must be held beyond retention requirements and indicate the appropriate reason for the “Hold”. Note that central management of inactive records is recommended to simplify the process and make it easier to manage. Records should be reviewed for destruction at least annually.

Annual Cleanouts
The purpose of the cleanout is to ensure that employees review and delete unnecessary records no less than annually. The policy should requires that: “Records will be maintained that (1) are required by law, (2) are necessary to support the orderly operation of the Company, or (3) to provide the basis for recovery from a disaster. All other records will be destroyed.” Cleanouts must be conducted annually for all company sites and apply to every associate in the company. Cleanouts apply to all company records, regardless of media. Documents to be reviewed include, but are not limited to; originals, drafts, duplicates, orphaned files, e-mails and attachments, letters, memos, notes (handwritten or typed), reports and tables (either printed or on the computer), slides or other graphics, “working” or other

personal files, guidelines and procedures, and meeting minutes. When annual cleanouts are first implemented or when litigation holds exist for company records, companies should conduct cleanouts that are restricted to administrative records. Cleanout dates should be determined as early as possible each year. It is a good idea to plan cleanouts around the same time each year. Employees learn to expect and look forward to the opportunity to review their records. However, the destruction of records according to the record retention schedule must be suspended if there is litigation or government investigation pertaining to the records in questions. To ensure that employees are properly notified of current active cases prior to a scheduled cleanout, the Law Department requires at least four (4) weeks prior notice of company cleanouts. This advance notice allows the Law Department sufficient time to generate a Hold report inclusive of active lawsuits. The Hold report is forwarded to the Records Management department, who is responsible for distributing it to company employees who will participate in the cleanout as least five (5) days before the event.

Employee Decision Making Process for Cleanouts

Is record needed any longer for active operations?

Yes

Keep in office

No

Has retention period expired per approved RRS?

No

Place record into inactive storage, e.g. archive.

Yes

Is a Document Hold Notice in effect for the records?

Yes

No

Is material confidential, proprietary, or sensitive?

Yes

Hard copies: Shred or place in confidential bin (if used in company). Electronic Media: Shred or demagnetize.

No Throw away as normal trash or recycle.

Destruction of Inactive Records
Scheduled destruction should include records in inactive storage. Departments should be notified when their records have fulfilled retention requirements and destruction should occur. A Destruction Notification report or letter is usually sent to the department records coordinator, who should review the list with the department signature authority. The report should be authorized by signature or an extension should be requested. The Records Manager should review and approve retention period extensions that meet standard criteria. The following principles should govern the physical destruction of records. Destruction should always be authorized Records pertaining to pending or active litigation or investigation should not be destroyed Records destruction should be carried out in a way that preserves the confidentiality of any information they contain All copies of records should be destroyed no later than when the originals are destroyed Documentation evidencing approval of destruction, including dates and a description of the records in question, must be maintained in the records management department. Physical destruction of records must be carried out by methods appropriate to their level of confidentiality. Third parties

contracted for the task can undertake destruction. Certificates of Destruction are required for all destruction undertaken by third parties and must be retained for the Life of the Corporation.

Destruction of Electronic Records
Records in electronic form can be destroyed by reformatting or rewriting if it can be guaranteed that the reformatting cannot be reversed. Delete instructions are not sufficient to ensure that all system pointers to the data have also been destroyed. Backups tapes need to be reformatted and entirely written over before effective destruction of information of electronic form is complete and they can be reused. Physical destruction of storage media is an appropriate alternative, especially if deletion, reformatting or rewriting are either not applicable or are unsafe methods for destroying digital information (for instance, information stored on WORM [Write Once Read Many] media).

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