Retention and Destruction of Records

Ten years ago, the Records Retention and Disposition Guidelines and Records Retention Schedule were developed at Caltech. These Guidelines were developed to support your efforts with good records management. When you feel like you're drowning in paper, have too many electronic files, are worried about managing sensitive information, or are concerned about keeping records too long (or not long enough), these Guidelines can help you to handle your records.

The purpose of the Records Retention and Disposition Guidelines is to establish and maintain uniform records management for the control, retention, storage, retrieval, and disposal of recorded information to comply with all statutory, regulatory, and administrative requirements governing the California Institute of Technology including its operating division, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The Caltech Archives collects records that can facilitate understanding of Caltech's history. These include records of administrative units responsible for research, communication, and community, as well as the professional and personal papers of Caltech faculty. Permanent records that document the history of JPL's administration and missions are preserved by the JPL Archives and are made available to researchers.
Regardless of their historic value, all Institute Records are the sole property of Caltech. These records document the Institute's organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, and history. Institute Records include all forms of recorded information (including electronic records) that are created, received, recorded, or legally filed in the course of Institute business or in pursuance of the Institute's legal obligations. All records are subject to supervisory review and evaluation prior to destruction. (JPL uses the Caltech Records Retention Schedule to manage Institute records, and the NASA Records Retention Schedule to manage government/mission records.)

Questions regarding how the Retention Schedule should be applied to a particular document should be referred first to your supervisor, and if further clarification is needed, to Audit Services and Institute Compliance (ASIC) at x8633. If a record category is not on the Retention Schedule or if another revision is required, any member of the Institute may submit a Request for Revision of Records Retention Schedule form to ASIC for assistance. ASIC and the Office of General Counsel will determine if an appropriate records category already exists or if a new records category needs to be established.
Please contact the Office of General Counsel with questions about records relating to any litigation or investigation.

The Records Retention and Disposition Guidelines are downloadable here. The Records Retention Schedule is downloadable here. To make a Request for Revision of the Records Retention Schedule, download the form here.