Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Record Sins

“For a Fortune 50 company with 20 lines of business, you may have 50 or 60 different laws that apply to document retention,” says the attorney McNicholas, who specializes in information law. He refused to even hazard a guess about how long most business records need to be kept on hand. “You have to start with an accurate survey of the information that’s in the organization,” McNicholas says—what he calls a data map.

At TriWest, Pontrelli ended up with a 243-line spreadsheet put together by the team in charge of TriWest’s contract with the Defense Department. It held retention requirements for everything from accident reports to years of service, with time periods ranging from one year to indefinitely. The spreadsheet laid out where the information was stored, on what medium and—much to his relief—the department responsible for keeping it and eventually destroying it.

Sarah D. Scalet explores the seven sins of record retention.

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