Purchasing and Procurement

Purchasing and Procurement



Agencies must maintain proper documentation of purchasing and procurement activities to meet internal administrative needs, legal demands and program and financial audit requirements. This general records schedule provides agency staff with a sound basis for proper program documentation.

This schedule:

  • Provides the framework to ensure agencies retain purchasing and procurement records as long as needed for internal administration and to meet legal, fiscal, audit and other State and Federal Government requirements;
  • Provides Wisconsin state agencies with uniform guidelines for the retention and disposition of common purchasing and procurement records;     Promotes cost-effective management of records; and,
  • Provides agencies with legal authorization to dispose of obsolete records in the normal course of business on a regularly scheduled basis after the time requirements in the established retention periods have been satisfied.

Retention and disposition policies in this schedule should be implemented in a timely and efficient manner.  


Wisconsin procurement statutes provide a framework for the policies and procedures used by state agencies and institutions to acquire goods and services needed for day-to-day operations. State procurement laws and policies are established as follows:  

  • Wis. Stats. §16.70 16.78, apply to all general purchasing of goods and services by agencies and institutions;  
  • AMD5-11 and 50, Wisconsin Administrative Code, define purchasing and competitive bidding policies; and,
  • The State Procurement Manual sets forth detailed procurement policies and procedures. 

This schedule covers records which most state agencies, including the University of Wisconsin System Administration and the University of Wisconsin Institutions, all Wisconsin counties, municipalities and other units of local government create and use to administer the procurement of commodities and services. The schedule is applicable to purchasing and procurement records whether maintained in central, regional, district or procurement program units and regardless of format or media. 

This general schedule may not include records which are solely unique to the mission of a single agency. The department or institution is responsible to write program-specific Retention Disposition Authorizations (RDAs) to schedule unique or mission-related records which would apply only to that single agency. 


Records covered in this schedule may be retained either in electronic or in paper format. This schedule also applies to all records born digital (including those created or transmitted via e-mail), data contained in database systems, tapes/cartridges and other types of electronic records and information systems maintained and managed by the Department of Administration (DOA) and other state agencies.  To safeguard the information contained in records maintained exclusively in electronic format, agencies must meet the standards and requirements for the management of electronic records outlined in Wisconsin Administrative Rule, Chapter ADM 12.


There are records related to purchasing and procurement which are covered by other approved general records schedules.  Several RDAs in the previous Purchasing and Procurement General Records Schedule have now been superseded by those in the Administrative Records General Records Schedule and the Fiscal and Accounting General Records Schedule.  (Please see the Purchasing and Procurement General Records Schedule Superseded and Obsolete RDAs summary at the end of this schedule for more information.)


This schedule requires some interpretation and training on specific agency titles of purchasing and procurement records as the titles of records series contained herein may not be the exact titles used by every agency. If agency staff is uncertain about the schedule’s application to a specific group of records or, needs help determining whether or not a specific record is confidential, they should seek assistance from their purchasing or procurement manager, their agency records officer, agency legal counsel or DOA’s State Bureau of Procurement.  (For other sources of advice, please see the paragraph below entitled Additional Information and Assistance.) 


Many documents are produced in purchasing and procurement areas across multiple disciplines and locations within state agencies. In some state agencies, a central purchasing/procurement bureau maintains the official record of the agency’s purchasing records.  In larger state agencies, regional, district or program units may be designated as the record custodians for the official record of procurement related records.  If multiple sets of records are retained within a single state agency, that agency must identify and designate the official record for each purchasing record series.

The official record is that record which must be retained to satisfy single or multi-agency audit or legal requirements of purchasing and procurement activities. The official record applies to information in all formats which is maintained by state agencies including electronic data contained in DOA’s VendorNet database or other applications and systems utilized by the state. The agency which is required to retain the official record for each record series contained herein is identified.  

It is essential for proper record keeping that agencies proactively identify and assign responsibility for the retention of its official records separately from reference or convenience copies. 


Reference copies are duplicates kept by agency staff for their convenience. These copies are considered non-records under Wis. Stat. § 16.61(2), and should be destroyed when no longer needed. For example, a file of purchase requisitions may be retained by the purchasing / procurement program as a convenience however the agency’s accounting staff is responsible to retain the official record.  If agency staff do retain convenience copies, when the retention period set for the official record has expired, the convenience copy takes on the de facto status of the official record. Therefore, DO NOT keep reference or convenience copies longer than the retention periods specified in this schedule. Do not send reference or convenience copies to the State Records Center.   

In addition, product reference files, i.e.,information and reference materials related to commodities and services that may be purchased are considered non-records. These materials may include catalogs, news clippings, consumer reports, federal specifications and sample master specifications.  These materials can be voluminous, therefore agency personnel should establish procedures to determine the need, if any, to reference these materials and establish policies to destroy outdated, unnecessary product reference materials. If one of the saved reference materials becomes necessary to support a purchase, it then becomes an official record and must be retained as part of the appropriate contract file.


Most procurement related records are not confidential but are open and public however, there are exceptions such as trade secrets pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 19.36(5), and as defined in Wis. Stat. § 134.90(1)(C).  Vendors may identify records or portions of records as trade secrets and in so doing, these records may become confidential. Please see section PRO-D-23of the state procurement manual for additional information. 

It is standard record management practice to maintain confidential information separately in the applicable procurement record series.  If there is doubt regarding whether or not a specific record is confidential, staff is advised to check with agency legal counsel. Records which may contain confidential information are identified with a ‘Yes’ designation on the listing of each record series contained herein.


Wis. Stat. § 16.61(3)(u), requires authorities to specifically identify certain record series within a general records schedule which contain personally identifiable information (PII).  Wis. Stat. § 19.62(5), defines PII broadly as “information that can be associated with a particular individual through one or more identifiers or other information or circumstances.” For example, certain records may contain personally identifiable information such as resumes with telephone numbers, addresses, etc., which can be associated with a particular individual.  There may be legal limitations in disclosure of this information. If in doubt as to whether a specific record series contains PII, check with agency legal counsel. 


Agencies should use this schedule to manage the disposition of records that are no longer needed on a regular basis.  
Records which have lived through their immediate use but must remain accessible for the duration of their retention lifecycle are called inactive records. Inactive records may be stored at the State Records Center.  The State Records Center uses a records retention inventory database to manage all inactive records. Each agency maintains legal custody of its records while stored at the State Records Center. The records are provided a greater level of security as only individuals authorized by agency records officers are allowed access. All records are tagged for destruction or transfer upon entering the State Records Center and records officers are notified at the correct time when records have completed their lifecycle.
The Wisconsin State Historical Society is responsible for the preservation of state government records which have historical value.  Some of the RDAs contained in this schedule require the associated records be transferred to the State Historical Society instead of being destroyed.  The RDAs requiring the transfer of these records are identified in the Minimum Retention and Disposition column. The State Historical Society is available to assist agencies with identifying records which may have historical value.  
When disposing of records which have met their retention periods, agencies must ensure that records identified in this schedule as containing personally identifiable information (PII) or confidential information are destroyed in such a way as to assure the information cannot be compromised or reconstructed. RDAs in this schedule may contain PII, confidential or both types of information. Any records identified in this schedule with one or both of these types of information (i.e. with a “Yes” in the PII or Confidential column in the schedule) must be destroyed in a confidential manner. Shredding is the best method to ensure proper disposal of PII and confidential information. The State Records Center offers confidential destruction services to all state agencies. 


Retention periods and disposition directions contained in this document are state policy requirements for purchasing and procurement records. Agencies are required to follow this schedule and to transfer or destroy purchasing records in the normal course of business. Records must however be retained longer by an agency if one or more of the conditions listed below apply.

  • Particular records are the subject of an audit; 
  • Particular records are needed for a legal action; 
  • An open records request for retrieval of particular records is in process;  and/or,
  • The Retention Disposition Authorization has expired or a new RDA is under development.

Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 19.35(5),Wisconsin Open Records Law forbids the destruction of any record after an inspection or record request until the request is granted, or at least 60 days after the date that the request is denied. Court orders may extend this time period. Contact your agency records custodian or legal counsel for advice as needed.

It is the responsibility of the office holding the record to determine if an audit, litigation or an open records request is pending before disposing of that record.


VendorNet is an electronic purchasing information system which provides easy access to a wide variety of information of interest to vendors who wish to provide goods and services to state agencies and municipalities. General information on how to do business with the state, names, addresses and telephone numbers of state agency procurement staff and a summary of what the state buys and how much it spends is included. In addition, information on certified work centers, minority business enterprises, recycling and affirmative action programs is available. Vendors may register with the state by providing information on their company and their goods and services. The annual registration provides vendors with an automatic notification of all state agency procurements over $50,000 in the area(s) of interest for which they registered.  State agencies use VendorNet to reduce bidding preparation time for state agency personnel and to improve opportunities for vendors to be notified of potential bidding opportunities.  

DOA’s VendorNet is the only official, electronic data system included in this schedule.  Agencies and UW System institutions maintaining separate information systems or databases to help manage purchasing and procurement activities must develop their own RDAs to schedule these systems. 

VendorNet may be replaced with an enterprise purchasing and procurement system within the next several years.  Should that occur, the record series in this schedule now applicable to VendorNet, would then apply to that new system.  

DOA’s, State Bureau of Procurement is committed to converting data to new technology to assure accessibility over time to comply with the requirements of Wisconsin Administrative Rule, Chapter ADM 12.


Agencies may have delegated authority to conduct procurements as defined in PRO-A-3 in the state procurement manual. Agencies with delegated authority are required to follow this general records schedule and any agency-specific RDAs just as non-delegated agencies are so obligated.


This schedule applies to records related to purchasing from Federal funding sources as well as State funds. The Public Records Board has established a minimum retention period of six (6) years after completion or denial of a grant to meet most State and Federal audit requirements. See the Administrative Records General Records Schedule, RDA #ADM00013 Grant Documentation, on the Public Records Board website for more information. 


Wis. Stats. § 35.81– 35.84, as amended by 1991 Wisconsin Act 285, requires Wisconsin state agencies to send copies of their publications, regardless of format, to the Wisconsin Reference and Loan Library for distribution to libraries through the Wisconsin Document Depository Program.  The Wisconsin Document Depository Program collects and distributes state publications in print and electronic formats to Wisconsin libraries; preserves and makes available a record of major state government programs; and, assures the availability of state publications for use by the public throughout Wisconsin now and in the future. For more information, contact the Wisconsin Reference and Loan Library via email at


Many state publications are now born digital. They are only published on the Web. Electronic publications are collected and preserved as part of the Wisconsin Document Depository Program. Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) to state publications published electronically on Wisconsin State Agency websites should be emailed directly to as a way for state agencies to fulfill the statutory obligation to participate in the Wisconsin Document Depository Program.


Each agency has a designated records officer who serves as liaison to the Public Records Board.  The records officer is responsible for records management planning, program development and assistance in your agency to include training on the use and implementation of general records schedules. Agency records officers are also available to work with purchasing and procurement personnel to design information management processes and implement organized filing systems that are consistent with effective, efficient records management principles.  Filing systems should meet staff informational needs and facilitate cross-referencing to the retention and disposition guidance contained in this schedule.

For additional information and assistance implementing this general schedule or organized filing systems, agencies staff should contact (as applicable):  

  • Agency Records Officer or Records Coordinator. 
  • Agency Purchasing or Procurement Staff.
  • DOA State Bureau of Procurement, 101 East Wilson Street, P.O. Box 7867, Madison, WI 53707-7867.
  • UW System Administration, Office of General Counsel, 1852 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Dr. Madison, WI 53706.
  • Agency legal counsel.

In addition, the Public Records Board developed an Introduction to General Records Schedules to provide more information and guidance on the use of general records schedules.  Public Records Board staff can offer technical assistance and training to assist agencies with record management, including records scheduling and interpretation of schedules.  Contact the State Records Center for more information.