Develop Retention Schedules

Records Retention Schedule Requirements

State agencies are required under La. R.S. 44:411 to submit a records retention schedule (a listing of the agency's records with the proposed length of time the records must be kept for administrative, legal or fiscal purposes) to the State Archives for approval. Agencies must renew their records retention schedules every five years. Schedules that were approved more than five years ago are considered expired. 

The Records Management program oversees the records retention schedule approval process. Agencies should use the Records Retention Schedule Form (SSARC-932) to format their submissions. This form is available on the Get Forms page. 

Retention Schedule Development Training

The State Archives offers free monthly records management training classes. We recommend you attend this training before you prepare your agency's retention schedule. For more information, please visit the Get Records Management Training page.

Conduct an Inventory of Physical and Electronic Records

The first step you should take in developing your retention schedule is to conduct an inventory of all the different types of public records in your agency's custody. The Inventory Form (SSARC-960) is available on the Get Forms page. This form is for your own use. You do not need to submit it to the State Archives for review.

What documents are considered public records? Public records include all documents regardless of their physical form or characteristic, generated or received under law or in connection with the transaction of official business, or preserved by the agency for other legal or informational purposes. It is important to note public records exist in a variety of formats. Papers, drawings, maps, photographs, microfilm, sound recordings, movies, and computer files can all be considered public records.

A separate inventory form should be filled out for each record series. Record series are similar records that are filed, grouped, and / or used together and are maintained for the same length of time. A separate inventory form should be filled out for each record series. You should document how the record series is used, how it is filed and where it is stored. You should also note if the record series contains personally identifiable information or if the record is otherwise deemed confidential by State or Federal laws. And finally, you should indicate if the record series is considered a vital record (a record that is essential for the functioning of the agency and is necessary for business continuity after a disaster). 

Prepare the Records Retention Schedule 

Once you have inventoried your records, you will use the information you gathered to create the retention schedule. The retention schedule lists each record series title and its corresponding retention period (the length of time the record series needs to be kept). The retention schedule also provides disposition instructions (guidance on what to do with the record once the retention period has been met).

How do you determine a record series' retention period? 

  • Consult with your legal team. Certain record series have retention periods which are defined in Federal or State statutes, while others are established by regulatory agencies and industry standards.
  • Consider the value (the usefulness or significance) of the record to your agency and to the public. A record series may have administrative, legal, financial, informational or historical value. A record's value may decrease or increase over its lifetime.

Implement your Retention Schedule

Once the State Archives has approved your retention schedule, you may request authorization to dispose of any records that have met their retention requirements. Use the Disposal Form (SSARC-930) to submit your request. The form is available on the Get Forms page. Note that you must obtain authorization before you dispose of any records.

Authorization is required even if the records in question appear on an approved records retention schedule. The process provides documentation that the records were disposed of during the normal course of business and in compliance with an approved records retention schedule. It also allows the State Archives to request records which may have archival value to be transferred to their custody for review and possible inclusion in the State Archives' collections. 

Once your retention schedule has been approved, you may also transfer short-term, inactive records to the State Records Center for temporary storage. 

Maintenance of the Records Retention Schedule

You are encouraged to review your retention schedule annually. Questions to ask: Have there been any changes to the laws or standards that apply to your agency? Has your agency undergone any organizational changes? Has your agency initiated any new programs? If so, you may need to submit a Replacement page or Addendum to your retention schedule. Use the Retention Schedule form (SSARC-932)to submit these changes.


For more information or questions, please contact Records Management via email. Please include your phone number in email correspondence.