This document outlines Ofcom's commitment to maintain records of its activities, the key principles for managing records in all media, and the roles of all colleagues in its management.
Ofcom must maintain a complete set of records for as long as required to:
Failure to manage information in accordance with relevant legislation could have serious consequences for Ofcom, its stakeholders and consumers. To ensure Ofcom meets the requirements:
As a public body, Ofcom is obliged by law to manage its records effectively and to retain them only as long as necessary to meet business needs and statutory requirements. To comply with this requirement Ofcom allocates retention periods to its records, to ensure that records for each function are retained for the appropriate length of time but no longer. These retention periods are listed in Ofcom's retention schedules.
A retention period is a specific time period after which a document or file can be disposed of. It comprises 3 elements:
The review action is most often needed for policy project files where it is difficult to predict in advance which projects will have a lasting significance. Ofcom will review these files either 5 or 10 years after closure of the project, destroy those files which have no lasting value and retain the more significant projects for a further period.
Ofcom aims to ensure that decisions on retention of records are thoroughly researched, that input is obtained from all interested parties and that decisions are approved at a senior level.
Retention periods are available to all groups and teams, stating the period for which their records should be retained.
Significant dialogue and decision making now often takes place by email. Storing such emails in personal Outlook mailboxes means they cannot be shared appropriately with other colleagues. Actively retaining emails of record and minimising the accumulation of trivia will allow colleagues to access relevant information more efficiently and improve compliance with information management codes.
To ensure that email folders do not simply accumulate trivial exchanges of no substantive value, in other words those emails which colleagues do not retain for the record, emails left unclassified (i.e. not saved in named email folders or stored in read-only format on shared drives) in in-boxes, sent boxes or deleted boxes, will be automatically disposed of after 60 days.
Once the retention period given in the retention schedules has passed, Ofcom must dispose of its records. Ofcom is a public body and must transfer certain of its records to the National Archives (TNA) once they are no longer required for operational reasons, rather than shredding or deleting them.
Disposal is the stage at which our policies cease to be theoretical and are applied to real files or documents. It is important to ensure that decisions on disposal are made with due consideration and that no one person is solely responsible for these decisions. The record disposal processis co-ordinated by the RIM Team.
All paper records to be destroyed will be disposed of securely.
Electronic files in shared drives must be destroyed according to the same retention criteria as paper records. A target time period for electronic review is being agreed with each team. The Records and Information Management Team will remind teams when this approaches.
Individuals are responsible for weeding their Outlook mailboxes and disposing of emails according to the retention periods for the matters to which the emails relate.