June 2011 Fun File Day Top Ten

July 6, 2011

A record-breaking number of departments participated in this June’s Fun File Days file destruction event.  59 different departments decided to take advantage of the free shredding services provided by the Records Management department.

In total we shredded 19,921 pounds which equals 9.96 tons.  101 shred bins and 94 boxes went from DePaul to R4 Services so their contents to meet their final demise.

The College of Law Admissions Office shredded the most with a total of 3575 pounds.  That’s almost two tons all by themselves!

Many other departments had respectable showings with the amounts they shredded.  Who were the top ten?

1.  College of Law Admissions – 3575 pounds

2.  College of Law Career Services – 1156 pounds

3.  Steans Center – 857 pounds

4.  Center for Community Research – 822 pounds

5.  College of Communication – 755 pounds

6.  Student Employment/Career Center – 720 pounds

7.  Management Department – 708 pounds

8.  Office of Students with Disabilities – 670 pounds

9.  College of Computing and Digital Media College Office – 628 pounds

10.  Liberal Arts & Sciences Loop Office – 589 pounds

And don’t forget to stay tuned for the winner of the award for the best Fun File Days participation story.  Not everyone can be the College of Law Admissions Office but that doesn’t mean you can’t win a prize!


December 2010 Fun File Days Wrap Up

January 14, 2011

Another Fun File Days event has come to an end with record number of university departments choosing to participate.  Fifty university departments shredded a total of 8,328 pounds (4.16 tons) between December 13th and December 20th.

The faculty and staff in the main office of the College of Computing and Digital Media shredded the most with a total of 657 pounds!  However, many departments took full advantage of the event and shredded equally impressive amounts.  The top ten shredders were:

1.       CDM Front Desk – 657 pounds

2.       CDM Advising – 637 pounds

3.       Financial Affairs – 585 pounds

4.       Facility Operations LPC – 572 pounds

5.       Human Resources – 562 pounds

6.       School of Music – 468 pounds

7.       College of Communication – 348 pounds

8.       Department of Management – 329 pounds

9.       New Student and Family Engagement – 298 pounds

10.  Ray Meyer Fitness Center – 267 pounds

In addition to finishing in the top 10, the School of Music took their participation to the next level by documenting their success with both a poem and photographic evidence.

Ode to “The Vault”

The School of Music here at DePaul doesn’t have much space

Students need the rooms to practice, sing, and study figured bass*.

We store our files in “The Vault”, a tiny space for sure

Simply look in-it’s obvious! The Vault needed a cure!


The School of Music knows of off-site storage for a fee

But we consult these files often and need them close, you see.

Because each inch of space is valued and our storage space is cramped

We looked forward to Fun File Days, to get “The Vault” revamped!


Eight hours in “The Vault”–sorting, stacking, oh what fun!

We had many things to shred, but knew were weren’t done.

Reorganizing files in new spaces we had cleared

We reclaimed cabinets and oh, the floor space! Everybody cheered!

We now have room to store the files of new graduated students

But only for five years — it’s law! (We always practice prudence).

Our offices are cleaner and far less chaotic too,

All because RM said “don’t let old files make you blue!”


We know we aren’t the biggest school with files at DePaul

With over 600 pounds of paper CDM beat us–Oh, the gall!

But here at the School of Music we’re proud of our space reclaimed

And that is why the catered lunch, in our honor should be named!


*Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of integer musical notation used to indicate intervals, chords, and nonchord tones, in relation to a bass note. Figured bass is closely associated with basso continuo, an accompaniment used in almost all genres of music in the Baroque period, though rarely in modern music.



In addition to the prizes awarded to the College of Computing and Digital Media and the School of Music for their enthusiastic participation, Records Management raffled off Chicago Bulls tickets to one lucky winner!

Overall, Fun File Days were a success and the Records Management Department invites you to consider participating in a future event.

Digital Don’ts

October 4, 2010

The upcoming email management information session will focus on ways to use Outlook to manage your email.  But what about cutting down on the amount of email you send?  A recent article from Law Technology News talks about the 5 things you should never put in an email.  Although this article is litigation-focused, the tips they give are useful guidelines for anyone who sends email as part of his or her job.  Tips such as “do not email when angry” seem to be common sense but the fact that the authors are able to highlight multiple real-life examples for each of the 5 tips says otherwise.

While the article about email talks about records you don’t want to create in the first please, NPR’s Talk of the Nation recently conducted an interview with a recording expert to talk about records you want to keep.  If your office has ever thought about burning your files to CDs as a way to back them up or increase storage space then this article is a must-read!  The joke in the digital preservation world is that a CD-R or a DVD-R will last 5 years or forever, whichever comes first.  Although this interviewee extends that lifespan to 10 years it’s still not the permanent preservation that many people hope for.  They go on to talk about ways to preserve those digital records that will help extend their accessible years.  Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS) and various types of back-ups are just some of the topics they touch on.  And while interviewee’s expertise is in sound recording everything he says about digital records is applicable to any file format you can burn to a CD.

The Hazards of Portable Information

August 18, 2010

Laptops and flash drives make our lives easier in that they allow us to move information, files, and data from one place to another.  However, they open up a whole batch of security issues in terms of who could have access to the information stored on them.

Take, for example, these two incidents in Oregon detailed in an article in SC Magazine.  In one case a psychologist’s laptop was stolen from his car.  The laptop, which had a non-password protected CD in the disc drive, contained information on his patients that is protected by HIPAA as well as names and Social Security Numbers.

In the other case, an employee of Portland Community College was using a flash drive to transfer data between two different campuses when the bag it was in was stolen out of the car.  The flash drive (also known as a thumb drive) contained personal information, including Social Security Numbers, for people participating in a community college sponsored program for unemployed Oregon residents.

I get asked every so often about the feasibility of backing up data to a flash drive.  My answer is always that you can but that you probably shouldn’t.  The second story in the news article is a great example of why.  Flash drives are cheap and easy to transport and, as such, are easy to misplace, steal, or forget about entirely.  If you need to back up your files or data or need to transport it from one place to another, discuss your options with IS.  They’re bound to have a more secure way to do it.

And if you find yourself taking your work home on your laptop, take a second to think about what kind of information you have on there.  Personnel data?  Student grade information?  If the files on your laptop contain any data classified as Internal Restricted Data or Highly Sensitive Data as defined by University Policy then I suggest you take precautions to make sure your laptop stays as secure as possible.  And don’t leave it in your car.

June 2010 Fun File Days Are Over!

July 1, 2010

On May 12, 2010 the call went out to all university departments:  do you have files that you need to get rid of?  Do you have space you need to reclaim?

Forty-seven (47) departments answered the call with a resounding “YES”.

From June 11th – June 18th these 47 departments filled shredding bins and boxes with files in their offices that had reached the end of their retention periods.  In the end, DePaul shredded 15,223 pounds of paper and other media.  That’s 7.61 tons of stuff!

The Lincoln Park Division of Student Affairs – Student Development Office shredded the most with a total of 1,775 pounds.  However, all 47 departments made a nice dent in their obsolete records.  Totals started at 25 pounds and the top 10 departments were:

  1. Student Affairs/Student Development (LPC):  1775 lbs
  2. College of Law: 1550 lbs
  3. LA&S Dean’s Office: 865 lbs
  4. Finance Department: 829 lbs
  5. Student Accounts: 819 lbs
  6. Merle Reskin Theater: 737 lbs
  7. Accountancy & MIS Department: 665 lbs
  8. History Department: 602 lbs
  9. LA&S – Loop Office: 570 lbs
  10. Facility Operations – Loop Office: 432 lbs

Although we encountered some elevator maintenance that limited our ability to replace full shredding bins with empty ones, departments powered through and made do with with they had.

Were Fun File Days a success?  Preliminary comments indicate yes!  The Ray Meyer Fitness Center even provided photographic evidence:

Full File Cabinet Drawer


Empty File Cabinet Drawer


And don’t worry; if you missed this Fun File Day event or you found more files that need to be shredded, the Department of Records Management will host another Fun File Day event this fall. Keep your eyes peeled for the email announcement in October or November!

May 2010 Newsletter

May 7, 2010

Fun File Days

It’s time once again for our spring/summer Fun File Days event!  This year’s Fun File Days week will be June 14th – June 18th. As always, bins will be delivered on that Monday and picked up on the following Monday.  Once again the Records Management Department will be organizing the pick-up and delivery as well as funding all the shredding.  If you’ve been saving up your records just waiting for this event, now’s the time to tell me how many bins you want!  Also, if you have boxes of records sitting around waiting to be shredded you can let me know that, too.  Not sure how many bins you need?  Contact Records Management and we’ll figure it out.  A university-wide email will go out on Wednesday, May 12th with additional information.  If you wish to participate please email recordsmanagement@depaul.edu by June 7th.

Don’t have any paper or other media to shred?  Why not take some time that week to go through your email, your hard drive, or your shared drives?  Remember, retention periods apply to electronic records as well!

Contract Retention

On April 22nd you should have received an email listing the newly approved and/or revised University policies and procedures.  One of the recently revised policies is Contract Requirements and Procedures.  As part of the revision process the Office of the General Counsel changed the Responsible Department for any contracts that do not require OGC review.  This means that the Records Retention Schedule has been updated to reflect the policy change.  All original contracts must still be retained for 10 years from the termination of the contract but now individual departments may be responsible for retaining them. Please read the revised policy for more information.  These changes are also listed in Record Groups 9.2 and 9.42 in the Records Retention Schedule.  If you have questions, please let me know.

Shredding Statistics

Finally, we have last month’s shredding statistics from R4 Services.  Remember, if you’re interested in overall totals you can always find them at the Procurement website.

Pounds Collected from Executive Consoles


Pounds Collected from 95-gallon bins


Total Pounds Collected


Tons Recycled After Shredding


Environmental Savings

18 Trees

7,406 Gallons of Water

196 Gallons of Gas

63 Pounds of Air Pollution

3.49 Cubic Yards of Landfill Space

4,338 Kilowatt Hours of Energy

The Good and the Bad….Where’s the Ugly?

April 27, 2010

This week’s news brought two interesting stories of how two different types of university records can have  dramatically different impacts on a university.

Ever think about all those records we have to keep in order to account for all the money we get from various donors?  I’m sure that our Advancement department does.   And I’m sure they would love to be offered $30 million dollars!  Well, that’s exactly what happened at New York University except that they claim they decided to turn it down.  Yet, what this story brought to light was a lack of original documentation and reports filed by various New York universities regarding donations from foreign donors.    Is this a lack of proper retention on the part of the universities or on the part of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Higher Education?  Regardless of who is the responsible department for these records, it’s obvious that they should have been kept, organized, and made more accessible.  And, hey, that’s what records management helps you do!

On a more positive note, the blog of the Special Collections and Archives at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut highlighted an interesting piece of their collection recently: the Young Men’s Republican Club of Wesleyan Club Constitution and Meeting Minutes from 1856!  The post’s author writes about how the current students can benefit from how students of the past approached politics and elections.  It’s a fascinating bit of history with current applications that no one would have ever known about if these records had not been placed in the university’s archives.    Currently DePaul’s Records Retention Schedule indicates that meeting minutes from the Student Government Association (Record Group 1.8) as well as student organization materials (Record Group 11.20) should be transferred to the University Archives.  If you’re involved with student organizations in any way, keep those Records Groups as well as the Archives in mind as your group creates minutes, advertisements, photographs, or any other record of its activities.  Maybe in another 150+ years someone else will use them to draw parallels between current students and students of the past.

April 2010 Newsletter

April 16, 2010

Personnel and Payroll Record Retention Update

You may recall from February’s newsletter that discussions were being held regarding a change to the retention period for Personnel and Payroll Records.  The Office of the General Counsel and I have discussed these changes with Human Resources, Academic Affairs, and Payroll.  As detailed earlier in the DePaul Records Management blog, the retention period for most personnel and payroll related records has been updated from 3 years from the date of termination to 6 years from the date of termination.  Please see the blog post for more detailed information as to which Records Groups this affects.  Not all of these Records Groups may pertain to you.  However, if you are in Human Resources, Academic Affairs, Payroll, or any other department that keeps staff, faculty or student personnel files, including official employment applications, then you are affected by this new retention period.  If you are one of the departments listed and you have not yet been contacted directly by me or by the Office of the General Counsel regarding this change, you will be soon.

In the mean time, please adjust any practices that may have been based on the prior 3 year retention period.  If you  have any questions or concerns regarding this change, please contact me.

Records Coordinator Appreciation Breakfast

I also want to say thank you to everyone who attended the breakfast.  Over 20 of you enjoyed food, goodie bags, and learning some tips and tricks for dealing with an overflowing Outlook Inbox.  Regardless of whether or not you were able to attend, if you’re interested in  having me present this or any other records management information to your department, don’t hesitate to ask.  I’m always willing to take my show on the road.

In addition, if you are not currently listed as your department’s Records Coordinator and you think you should be, contact me.  You don’t want to miss out on next year’s breakfast!

Shredding Statistics

Below are the shredding totals for the month of March 2010.  In addition, Procurement has been keeping track of the total amount of paper shredded and recycled since we started using R4 Services in June 2009.  For complete statistics, check out their website.

Pounds Collected from Executive Consoles


Pounds Collected from 95-gallon bins


Pounds Collected from Boxes


Total Pounds Collected


Tons Recycled After Shredding


Environmental Savings

29 Trees

11,792 Gallons of Water

312 Gallons of Gas

101 Pounds of Air Pollution

5.56 Cubic Yards of Landfill Space

6,906 Kilowatt Hours of Energy

Records Management at Home

March 30, 2010

We spend most of our time talking about the proper management, retention, and disposition of university records, but records management also has a place outside of work.  You know that overstuffed file cabinet or that old computer you have at home?  Records management can  help you tackle them as well!

Jennifer Saranow Schultz of the New York Times recently wrote an article titled “Retain Your Records No Longer Than You Must”.  She consulted with people in the financial, medical, and privacy rights industries to get some guidelines on how long to keep tax forms, utility bills, Explanation of Benefits from the insurance company, as well as many other documents most people have at home.

The answers she got may surprise you.  Utility bills?  Well, unless you need them for tax deduction purposes, there’s no reason you need to keep them once you get the next bill that confirms you paid the previous one.  Do you have piles of bank statements?  Again, unless you need them to prove income they really only need to be retained as long as your bank allows you to challenge any inconsistencies or errors.  Review them on a regular basis and contact the bank right away if there are any errors.  Otherwise, the experts Saranow Schultz interviewed recommended only keeping them for a year.

And everyone knows that tax records need to be kept for seven years, right?  Well, actually, that’s not entirely true.

The IRS does have 3 years after date of filing “or date of payment” to audit your tax return.   However, by statute there is a finite list of exceptions to the 3 year time frame. These include:

  • False Return – Tax may be assessed at any time, without limitation.
  • Willful attempt to avoid tax – Tax may be assessed at any time, without limitation.
  • No return – Tax may be assessed at any time, without limitation.
  • Extension by Agreement – Assessment period defined by agreement between IRS and taxpayer.
  • Tax resulting from changes in certain income or estate tax credits – No timeframe defined.
  • Tax resulting form distributions or terminations from a life insurance company – 3 years
  • Termination of private foundation status – Tax may be assessed at any time, without limitation.
  • Substantial omission of items (generally defined as over/under reporting of income by 25%) – 6 years.

These Limitations of Assessment and Collection are defined in federal law. For more information,  see 26 USC 6501.

It’s typically that last bullet point that people use to invoke the seven year retention period.  The year of filing plus six years just in case you forgot a huge chunk of your income.  But for most people, 3 years should be sufficient for all the documentation used to prepare their taxes.  Although Saranow Schultz’s experts suggest keeping the actual tax return forms permanently.

So, while there are some records that experts suggest keeping permanently (legal decision paperwork and wills to name two), most records in your house could safely be disposed of after a limited period of time.  And regardless of how long you keep them, remember to store them in a safe place.  Avoid keeping them online or in email and remember to periodically check to make sure you can still access the information on that old computer.  If you can no  longer open the file then keeping it isn’t doing you much good.

Personnel Related Files – Retention Update

March 16, 2010

As mentioned previously in the February 2010 Newsletter, a change in the law has necessitated a change in the retention period for records concerning the name, address, and occupation of each employee, the wages paid to each employee, as well as records that support or justify pay grades, increases, or decreases.

Originally this retention period was going to be changed from 3 years post-termination to 5 years.  However, after further discussion the retention period is being changed to 6 years from termination date.

What records does this affect?   The following list includes all the Record Group Numbers that have been updated with this new retention period.

This list includes both records directly affected by the law changes (payroll records and supporting documents related to compensation), as well as other records that we believe are typically stored alongside the affected records. In the case of the latter, we’ve changed the retention period for these records to 6 years simply for the sake of convenience.

Affected Records Groups

3.1          Applications and reasoning for hire/non-hire

3.2          Employee discipline records

3.5          Test results required for application/hire

3.6          Physical exam results required for application/hire

3.7          Affirmative Action Plan and supplementary documents

3.9          PT/Adjunct Faculty personnel files

3.12        FT Faculty personnel files

3.13        Tenure packet

3.14        Faculty applications and documentation related to hire/non-hire

3.15        Annual/peer reviews

3.17        Employee benefits records

3.20        Leave of absence records

3.21        Employee occupation, rate of pay, pay tables, etc.

3.22        Employee timesheets

3.23        Vacation/personal day log

3.24        Additions to and deductions from wages + explanation

3.25        Payroll calendar

3.31        Federal W-4

3.32        State W-4

3.34        Wage garnishments

3.39        Name change authorization

3.41        Personnel file documents held by department – unique from information  sent to HR

3.42        Union time cards edited 4/14/10

3.43        OIDE investigation records – complaint related to a person

3.44        OIDE investigation records – complaint related to a policy/process

Not all of these Records Groups may pertain to you.  However, if you are in Human Resources, Academic Affairs, Payroll, Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, Facility Operations, or any department that keeps staff, faculty or student personnel files including employment applications then you are affected by this new retention period.

Please adjust any practices that may have been based on the prior 3 year retention period.  If you  have any questions or concerns regarding this change, please contact us at recordsmanagement@depaul.edu.