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State Archives
337 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 222-2353
Fax: (401) 222-3199
TTY: 711


Open to the public
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


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Records Retention Schedule Development

A records retention schedule is a document that lists and describes the records that an agency creates or receives in the course of conducting its business. The schedule also stipulates the minimum amount of time the agency must keep each record series. The amount of time (the retention period) is set by law or determined by business needs when no law directly applies. The historical or informational value of the record is also a consideration.

The Public Records Administration (PRA) collaborates with agencies to develop schedules for records that are unique to each agency. The PRA is responsible for developing records retention schedules for records common to most, if not all, agencies (e.g. personnel files, minutes of meetings, executive correspondence). For these schedules, see the General Records Schedule page. Record series listed in the General Records Schedule should not be included in agency-specific schedules.

The development of a records retention schedule involves the following steps (in each step the party responsible for the action appears in bold):

  1. PRA and agency officials (administrators/department heads) meet to review the records retention schedule development process.
  2. Agency director or designee submits signed Request for Development of Records Retention Schedule Form (provided at initial meeting) to PRA, committing the agency to the project.
  3. PRA meets with agency staff who will gather and record information concerning the program's records. At this point, PRA explains the process and provides Records Inventory Form and Instructions. (We recommend Workshop 201 for agencies embarking on this process.)
  4. PRA and agency develop project timetable.
  5. Agency identifies record series and completes a Records Inventory Form for each series (not for each document!)
  6. Agency sends Records Inventory Forms to PRA, preferably as attachments to an email message.
  7. PRA drafts schedule based on information provided in Records Inventory Forms.
  8. PRA returns draft schedule, with questions and comments, to agency.
  9. Agency responds to PRA draft schedule questions and comments.
  10. PRA creates revised draft for agency approval.
    NOTE: Schedules may go through several drafts before they are ready for agency approval.
  11. Agency approves Draft Schedule and returns it to PRA. The signature of agency head or designee is required on the Agency Schedule Approval Sign-off Form (provided by PRA when Final Draft Schedule completed.)
  12. PRA forwards Final Draft Schedule to State Archivist/Public Records Administrator for review.
  13. State Archivist/Public Records Administrator reviews Final Draft Schedule and approves or returns with questions or suggested changes. Upon approval by State Archivist/Public Records Administrator, Final Draft Schedule becomes Proposed Schedule.
  14. State Archivist/Public Records Administrator sends Proposed Schedule to Attorney General and Auditor General for review and approval, as required by law.
  15. Attorney General and Auditor General review Proposed Schedule and approve or return with any required changes.
  16. Upon approval by Attorney General and Auditor General, Proposed Schedule becomes Approved Schedule.
  17. PRA and agency schedule workshop for agency staff on how to apply schedule. (Workshop 301)