Records Destruction

According to RCW 40.14.060, public records can only be destroyed according to approved retention schedules. This applies to records in all forms, digital or paper, textual or audiovisual. When records become eligible for destruction, this process can be carried out in a variety of ways.

Destruction of paper records stored in the University Records Center will be managed by University Archives and Records Management. This process always involves the offices whose records are eligible for destruction, and only occurs after review and consent of those offices.

Destruction of paper records or digital records held by offices themselves is the responsibility of the respective offices of record. We strongly recommend a process involving Confirm, Document, and Destroy.

Confirm that there are no additional requirements for retaining the records. This may require a review by multiple people and includes ensuring that:

  • the correct retention schedule is being applied;

  • there is no legal action (lawsuit, grievance, dispute, or other proceeding) that requires the records remain intact beyond the retention period;

  • there is no impending audit or review that will require the records;

  • there is no unresolved public records request that requires the records;

  • the records are not also classified as “archival” (which requires their ongoing preservation – see below)

  • if you are wiping a disk, you have taken appropriate steps not to wipe any records that must remain active and accessible

  • Note: it is illegal to destroy records that are subject to ongoing or anticipated legal, audit, investigative, or public records request actions

Document the records that are being destroyed:

  • In order to ensure accountability, compliance with recordkeeping laws, and corporate memory regarding records disposition, we strongly encourage that individual program units use a records destruction log to document all formal  records destruction.  Please use or extend the University Archives and Records Management Destruction Log template for this purpose.  The authenticity of this log must be safeguarded, and each program unit should retain the destruction log indefinitely.

  • You do not need to list every single item that will be deleted; rather you can identify the records in aggregate form per the examples in the spreadsheet.

Destroy/delete the records once you have confirmed their eligibility and made the necessary documentation

  • For paper records, we strongly recommend shredding.  If you have a large volume, contact Purchasing to set up service with one of the vendors on campus.

  • For digital records, you should delete all relevant copies of the records with the goal that they will be irretrievable.

  • If you need to wipe a disk, consult IT for options, but keep in mind that you will need to ensure that there are no active records on the disk being wiped. Prior to wiping a disk, you must ensure that any records still subject to retention schedules, or to other legal actions mandating ongoing retention, are transferred to active, accessible storage.  Backup tapes are not considered active, accessible storage.

Archival records must be retained.  Records that are historical in nature or that have an "archival" designation on a retention schedule must remain intact. University policy and state law require that these records undergo review and selection for preservation in the University Archives.  Contact University Archives for disposition of historical/archival records.