Document Retention for Accounting

Knowing what records to keep and for how long is challenging. Various requirements based in law and university policy govern the retention of administrative records. The University of California maintains a Records Retention Schedule that can tell you exactly how long departments must retain any kind of record.

It is important for all members of the campus community to adhere to the retention periods. The schedule serves as the lawful authorization for the disposition of records; consequences of not following the schedule may include court-imposed legal sanctions.

General Guidelines for Retention

To help departments get a general idea of how long documents should be retained, the Accounting department can provide the following general guidelines for procurement, accounts payable, billing, disbursements, and financial reconciliation records.

Documents and Records Related to... Should be ...
Regular Fiscal-Year Financial Activities
(UC Records Code: 0005A3)
Retained 4 years after the end of the fiscal year. They should be deleted or destroyed after the retention period has lapsed.
Contract and Grant Financial Activities
(UC Records Code: 0005A1)
Retained 6 years after the end of the award, unless otherwise specified in the award agreement. They should be deleted or destroyed after the retention period has lapsed.
Bond Financing Activities
(UC Records Code: 0005A2)
Retained 5 years after the bond matures or 10 years after the completion of the project - whichever is longer. They should be deleted or destroyed after the retention period has lapsed.

You can review the complete details for how long these types of documents should be retained by searching for the associated Records Code on the UC Records Retention website.

Retention of Documents Uploaded to FileNet

Documents uploaded to FileNet are considered original documents, and the system uses the University of California guidelines listed above to determine how long these records should be retained. Campus organizations no longer need to act as the office of record for these documents. Shadow files do not need to be kept in departmental offices except in the rare occasion that a record must be retained longer than the UC’s retention guidelines (e.g. NCAA requirements). Exceptional circumstances when this might occur include:

  • Contracts and Grants

An award agreement could include a record retention requirement longer than 6 years after the end of the award. More information about record retention related to research is summarized here.

  • External Rules and Regulations

Agreements with outside organizations may require a longer retention period for some records.

  • Departmental Business Policy

Schools and departments may have retention guidelines longer than those listed above.

In all situations where records must be retained longer than the UC guidelines listed above, campus organizations must act as the office of record and maintain copies of documents in their files.