Fiscal and Accounting

Fiscal and Accounting

Records are not only a basic tool of transacting business on behalf of Wisconsin state agencies, they are also the foundation for government accountability. Therefore, records management is both required and regulated by Wisconsin law. This schedule provides guidelines for complying with legal, fiscal, and archival requirements for records retention, as well as guidance regarding cost effective management of University of Wisconsin fiscal and accounting records and duplicates.

I. Purpose
The purpose of this schedule is to:Provide University of Wisconsin System institutions with uniform guidelines for the retention and disposition of common records;

Ensure that University of Wisconsin System institutions retain records as long as needed in order to complete the transaction of business on behalf of the University of Wisconsin System, and to meet legal, audit, archival, and other state of Wisconsin and federal requirements;

Provide University of Wisconsin institutions with legal authorization to dispose of expired records on a regularly scheduled basis after minimum retention periods are met; and Promote the cost-effective management of records.

II. Who May Use General Schedules
The University of Wisconsin System General Schedule for fiscal and accounting records applies to all fifteen of the University of Wisconsin System institutions.

III. Records Management Within the University of Wisconsin System.
The University of Wisconsin System bears a unique structure comprising fifteen distinct and autonomous educational institutions, all of which are governed by a single corporate board: The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

The Board of Regents' governance authority over these fifteen educational institutions is defined by statute: "The primary responsibility for governance of the system shall be vested in the board which shall enact policies and promulgate rules for governing the system...and promote the widest degree of institutional autonomy within the controlling limits of system-wide policies and priorities established by the board. Wis. Stats. § 36.09(1). Moreover, the Board of Regents may delegate authority to the each Institution within the University of Wisconsin System:The board shall delegate to each chancellor the necessary authority for the administration and operation of the institution within the policies and guidelines established by the board. 

The board may also delegate or rescind other authority to chancellors, committees of the board, administrative officers, members of the faculty and students or such other groups as it deems appropriate." Wis.Stats. § 36.09(l)(f). 

In accordance with these statutes, the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents is responsible for the proper management of the University's records. However, the Board may, and often does,delegate or rescind the administration and operation of records management to chancellors,committees of the board, administrative officers, members of the faculty, students, and other appropriate groups.Therefore, it is important for University employees who manage University records to ascertain whether, and to whom, the Board of Regents has delegated the administration and operation of these records. Thereafter, the delegated authority shall properly manage public records on behalf of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and in accordance with records schedules,which have been approved by the Public Records Board.

IV. Records Series, Titles, and Categories:
Each individual record schedule within this general schedule provides a description of a record series, setting forth retention requirements and providing guidance regarding working copies, or duplicates, of the records. Each record series in a functional area is described in narrative detail, including lists of forms, reports and other items included in the series. All records within a series relate to the same topic and have the same retention requirements.

V. Electronic Records:
General schedules cover records in all media, including records that are created or transmitted via electronic mail. Moreover, database systems produce inputs and outputs that are commonly understood to comprise records, and the data elements in database systems themselves contain records that are subject to minimum retention and disposition requirements Administrative Rule 12 Electronic Records Management-Standards and Requirements became effective May 1,2001. This rule applies to all state record keeping systems. (The rule and related information regarding records management for electronic records can be found on-line at the Department of Administration's website.)Though more and more records are being created in electronic format, University employees should be aware that the scheduling process for these records does not differ from the process for records in paper form or other formats. All public records must be scheduled according to their substantive content, not their format or medium.However,electronic records present their own particular management issues.Records that are born digital must be filed and managed in ways that ensure their accessibility and integrity, including their periodic migration to other media to guard against technical obsolescence, as required by law.

VI. Retaining Records:
University of Wisconsin institutions are required to follow general schedules, including retention periods and disposition directions for applicable records.However, records may be delayed from destruction if they are useful on an ongoing basis as a business resource. It is also important to understand that under Wisconsin law public records must be delayed from destruction under the following conditions:

  • Records are required for a financial or performance audit;
  • Records are relevant to an existing, pending, or impending legal proceeding; or
  • A relevant public record request has been received and not completed.

Before disposing of a record, the office managing the record must determine if an audit, litigation, or public record request is pending. And notably, after a public records request has been filed,Wisconsin law forbids the destruction of any relevant record until the request is granted, or at least 60 days after the request is denied, and court orders may extend this time period. Wis. Stats. §19.35(5). If institution staff members have questions regarding the requirements set forth within Wisconsin's Public Records Law, then the institution's legal custodian of records or University legal counsel could provide further guidance.

VII. Archival Repositories
For some records series that have been appraised to have archival value, the disposition will indicate"transfer to an archival repository." An archival repository is responsible for processing the records,making them available to researchers, and providing for their safe-keeping and preservation. An official archival repository is one that has been reviewed and designated as such by the Wisconsin Public Records Board according to Wis Stats. 16.61(13)(b). In general, transferring to an archival repository means transferring records to either the Wisconsin State Historical Society Archival Depository or a University of Wisconsin Archival Depository, which has been designated by the Public Records Board. Vm. Confidentiality of Records: Some records may contain confidential or restricted access records such as social security numbers. If in doubt as to whether or not a specific record is confidential, it is always a good idea to check with University legal counsel.

IX. Personally Identifiable Information:
Some records in this schedule contain personally identifiable information as defined by Wisconsin law. Wis. Stats. §§ 19.62(5) & 895.507. Public access to personally identifiable information is restricted by law. Therefore, University of Wisconsin institutions should abide by the requirements set forth within relevant federal and state laws and regulations. If further information is required regarding these laws and regulations, then contact University legal counsel before taking action affecting records that contain, or may contain,personally identifiable information.

Official Record: The original record, from which duplicates are made. Original records are regulated by state law. Copies, or duplicates, of original records are not regulated by law and therefore, may be destroyed when they are no longer needed by University employees. If litigation, audit, or public records requests are pending, however, then duplicates relevant to these proceedings cannot be destroyed until the proceedings are complete. If further information is required regarding destruction of duplicates, then please contact your institution's records officer or University legal counsel. 

Duplicate or Working Duplicates: All duplicate, working, and convenience copies of official records are classified as non-records under Wis. Stats. § 16.61. Therefore, in the interest of efficiency, do not keep non-records longer than needed, and destroy them as soon as possible. It is also important to understand that under Wisconsin law, if non-records are not properly destroyed, then they must be provided to a requester in response to relevant: public records requests, audits, and litigation, even if the official record previously expired and was destroyed in accordance with approved records schedules. Finally, do not send non-records to the State Records Center because they will needlessly consume expensive storage space.

Retention Period: The retention period is the minimum length of time an office must keep particular records. This is usually expressed in terms of years, months, days and may be contingent upon an event date or specification date that triggers the "clock." Most often, retention periods are triggered at: creation(CR), event (EVT), or fiscal (FIS).

Creation (CR): The retention period starts when a record is created or received.

Event (EVT): The retention period is triggered or tied to event dates; thus, retention does not begin until the specified event occurs. For example, if a record series has a retention of EVT+1 year and the event is defined as the life of an asset, then all records in this category would be retained one year after the asset is sold, scrapped, or otherwise taken out of service.

Fiscal (FIS): This retention period is tied to the current fiscal year, and unlike CR and EVT retention periods, FIS record series are managed in blocks by fiscal year. For example,"FIS+4 years" indicates that records must be retained for the current fiscal year and four complete additional fiscal years.

Disposition: The final state in a record's life cycle, involving: destruction or transfer to the individual University of Wisconsin archival depositories for permanent preservation.

Public Records. Public records are defined as: "all...materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made, or received by any state agency or its officers or employees in connection with the transaction of public business..." Wis. Stats. § 16.6l(2)(b).

Exceptions to Public Records. Public records do not include: (a) Wisconsin Legislators: records and correspondence of any member of the legislature; (b) State Depository Library: any state document received by a state document depository library; (c) Duplicates: duplicate Duplicates of materials the original copies of which are in the custody of the same state agency and which are maintained only for convenience or reference and for no other substantive purpose; (d)Library Materials: materials in the possession of a library or museum made or acquired solely for reference or exhibition purposes; (e) Unsolicited Notices: notices or invitations received by a state agency that were not solicited by the agency and that are not related to any official action taken, proposed, or considered by the agency; (f) Preliminary Materials: drafts, notes,preliminary computations and like materials prepared for the originator's personal use or prepared by the originator in the name of a person for whom the originator is working; and (g)Routing: routing slips and envelopes. Wis. Stats. § 16.61(2)(b).

Personally Identifiable Information. This is information that can be associated with a particular individual through one or more identifiers or other information or circumstances. Wis.Stats. §§19.62(5) & 895.507.

University of Wisconsin employees should also consult with the following resource staff for additional information and assistance with records management concerns:

Records Management Officer
Each University of Wisconsin institution has a designated records officer who serves as liaison to the Public Records Board. The records officer is responsible for agency-wide records management planning, program development,and assistance.

Legal Custodian of Public Records
Under Wisconsin law, each University of Wisconsin institution is required to designate a legal custodian for public records requests. Wis. Stats§ 19.33.The legal custodian shall be vested with full legal power to render decisions and carry out the duties of the University of Wisconsin institution under Wisconsin's public records law, and in cooperation with University of Wisconsin System Legal Counsel. Wis. Stats. § 19.33(4).

Department of Administration Records Management Section
The Department of Administration Records Management Section provides free training sessions, as needed, on implementation of general records schedules.

Public Records Board
The Board's Executive Secretary can offer technical assistance and training to assist institutions with records management, including records scheduling and interpretation of schedules.

Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) assists institutions with records management, particularly in identifying the small percentage of records that have historical value.

University of Wisconsin Institution Archival Depositories
University of Wisconsin Institutions have delegated authority to operate archives for historical institutional records. Often, the University of Wisconsin archives also function as the focus for records management related activities on the campus.

University of Wisconsin System Legal Counsel
Whenever a lawsuit or public records request is filed with a University of Wisconsin institution, affected University employees must contact University of Wisconsin System Legal Counsel in order to ensure that all relevant legal and regulatory requirements are both known and fulfilled. 7The University of Wisconsin System Fiscal and Accounting General Records Schedule applies to all University of Wisconsin institutions. In addition, it is important for University employees to note that the University of Wisconsin Fiscal and Accounting General Records Schedule is both a modified version of, and replacement for, the General Records Schedule for Fiscal and Accounting Related Records, which was approved in June of2006 by the State of Wisconsin Public Records Board.Therefore, this general records schedule is the source of general records schedules for the fiscal and accounting records created and received by all University of Wisconsin institutions.The University of Wisconsin is cognizant of the need to balance the competing goals of maintaining records that adequately support fiscal and accounting transactions, while simultaneously managing the costs associated with maintaining these records. Therefore, the following schedules provide a vehicle for managing fiscal and accounting records efficiently and consistently within all University of Wisconsin institutions. Finally, in order to facilitate efficient records management for University employees, this general records schedule is provided in two formats: narrative and spreadsheet.