Records Retention and Disposal
MnDOT Policy DM006
View/print signed policy (PDF)
Minnesota Statutes §15.17 requires the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to make and keep all records necessary to accurately document the agency’s official activities. A critical part of MnDOT’s compliance with the law is the MnDOT Retention Schedule. The schedule specifies how long to retain a records series and when/how, the records can be destroyed. The Records Disposition Panel approves the schedule.
MnDOT’s records and data are valuable assets and should be well-organized, easy to retrieve, and destroyed in accordance with this retention policy and the retention schedule. Proper management of MnDOT’s records and data ensures the quality, reliability, integrity, shareability, security, and transparency of the records and data.
- Comply with the law;
- Establish a records retention schedule and destruction process;
- Create an inventory of all records and data;
- Reduce legal risks and efficiently use state resources by only keeping records and data for the required periods of time;
- Defensibly destroy unnecessary records and data;
- Prevent loss of records and data by copying and storing electronically stored data for a limited period to enable the capability to restore the data to its original state after a system problem or disaster;
- Maintain the retention schedule for accuracy and compliance with the law and MnDOT’s official activities;
- Provide guidance to MnDOT employees on what records and data to keep and for how long; and
- Provide a basis for suspending the retention schedule when MnDOT must preserve evidence for legal proceedings.
- All MnDOT employees must comply with the Records Retention and Disposal policy requirements.
- Managers and supervisors must ensure their employees’ compliance with this policy and retention schedule; and
- Data domain stewards must manage shared records and data for the common benefit of the agency.
Prepare and maintain a records retention schedule
- Identify business records and data that become part of an official transaction.
- Categorize the records and data by content and determine the retention period, whether required by law or for business needs.
- Obtain approval of MnDOT’s records retention schedule by the State Records Disposition Panel.
- Update the retention schedule to ensure accuracy and compliance with the law and MnDOT’s official activities.
Follow the Records Retention Schedule
- The owner of the record or data is responsible for the compliance with the records retention schedule;
- Each record series on the retention schedule specifies the trigger (if applicable) that starts the retention period,
along with the method of disposal.
- Records or data classified by the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act as something other than “Public,” must be destroyed in a way that prevents their contents from being determined Minnesota Statutes §138.17, subd 7.
- Offer records identified as “Archival” on the schedule to the Minnesota State Archives of the Minnesota Historical Society when the disposal date occurs.
Suspend retention time for legal holds
For records or data that are the subject of a legal hold, the normal record retention and disposal is suspended until the Chief Counsel lifts the hold. The records or data must be preserved and not destroyed while the hold is effective. Refer to the MnDOT Legal & Litigation Hold policy for further information.
Safeguard records against removal or loss
MnDOT must store records in the proper repository for easy retrieval, backup, security and read for the full retention period. Records classified as “Not Public” must be properly secured.
- Paper Records
- Must be protected from the elements, fire or flood;
- Must be transferred to the appropriate person or repository when the owner separates from employment with MnDOT.
- Electronic Records
- Must have file formats which are upgradable for the life of the record, and must be capable of being migrated when necessary;
- Must be secured and backed up for the life of the record and be readily accessible, retrievable, readable, and destroyed or sanitized in compliance with the MnDOT Retention Schedule;
- Must be stored on designated MnDOT network drives or business applications;
- Must not be stored on the C: drive, removable drive, personal archives, personal email account, or a personally owned device. See MnDOT policies Portable Computing Devices Data Security and Email Message; and Do(s) and Don't(s) for Information Technology Use for further information.
- Must not be stored with a cloud computing service or software as a service provider. If a MnDOT approved repository does not meet the business needs, managers may apply to the MnDOT Technology Investment Manager for an exception to this requirement. All approved exceptions must have a fully executed data management agreement with the service provider or vendor.
Both paper and electronic records must readable, retrievable, and secure for the life of the records. This may require upgrades to software, rebinding for books, or moving the records to a more stable repository for safekeeping.
Data or Government Data
All data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by any government entity regardless of its physical form, storage media or conditions of use, Minnesota Statutes §13.02, subd. 7.
The copying and storing of electronically stored data for a limited period to enable the capability to restore the data to its original state after a loss event. Data backup is an important component of proper storage and retention of MnDOT’s records.
The disposal of a record is the final act in the lifecycle of the record. This could include shredding, recycling, erasing, wiping, or transferring to the Minnesota State Archives.
Minnesota State Archives
The Minnesota Historical Society is responsible for keeping long-term records deemed of archival value to the state, Minnesota Statutes §138.17.
The official transaction is the communication action or activity on behalf of MnDOT that documents an exchange of goods, services, funds or information.
A record includes: all cards, correspondence, discs, maps, memoranda, microfilms, papers, photographs, recordings, reports, tapes, writings, optical disks, and other data information, or documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, storage media or conditions of use, made or received by an officer or agency of the state in connection with the transaction of public business by the officer or agency. It is the final completed evidence of an official business decision, Minnesota Statutes §138.17.
Records Disposition Panel
Records Disposition Panel is the body that approves government retention schedules. Membership on the panel consists of the attorney general, legislative auditor in the case of state records, state auditor in the case of local records, and director of the Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Statutes §138.17.
The records retention schedule is the official document that specifies how long each record series MnDOT must keep. The MnDOT commissioner or designee and the records manager must sign the schedule. The Records Disposition panel must unanimously approved the schedule.
The retention time is measured in years and specifies the time that the record must be kept after the retention trigger.
The retention trigger is the event that marks the beginning of the retention period. For example, a trigger for personnel records may be the employee separation date. There is no trigger if the retention period coincides with the creation of the record. For more information, details of the trigger and the retention period check the retention schedule.
Chief Administrative Officer (Commissioner or Delegated Authority)
- Ensure MnDOT records retention and disposal schedule complies with the law.
- Issue and lift legal holds; and
- Advise on legal requirements for records and data retention.
Data Domain Stewards
- Be accountable for managing shared records and data for the common benefit of MnDOT;
- Be responsible for quality, security, retention, timeliness, availability, and reliability of records and data;
- Be accountable for informing users of the proper management of the records and data;
- Authorize changes within their data domains and grant or withhold security access rights; and
- Manage data in accordance with data practices classifications and requirements.
- Refer to the MnDOT Data Stewardship policy for further information.
- Maintain and update the records retention schedule;
- Inform employees of the Records Retention and Disposal policy;
- Coordinate periodic disposal of MnDOT Records Center (note: for employees only) materials;
- Coordinate records transfer with the Minnesota State Archives;
- Participate in the legal hold process;
- Respond to employees questions and their requests for information or assistance; and
- Support good records management practices.
Data Practices Compliance Official
- Determine whether records are “Public” or “Not Public” for the purposes of security and the method of disposal.
- Know what records are produced by their staff and communicate where to store the records and how to access the records;
- Ensure staff complies with the Records Retention and Disposal policy;
- Follow the account deletion process when employees separate from employment with MnDOT for proper management or disposal of records or data; and
- Apply to the MnDOT Technology Investment Manager for an exception to store MnDOT records and data with a cloud computing service or software as a service vendor. For approved exceptions, consult with the Office of Chief Counsel to execute a data management agreement with the service provider or vendor.
Technology Investment Manager
- Develop, maintain, and update the exception process to store MnDOT records and data with a cloud computing service or software as a service vendor:
- Consult with the Office of Chief Counsel, Records Manager, and Data Domain Stewards to determine if a MnDOT approved repository does not meet the business needs; and
- Ensure all professional/technical contracts or MnDOT purchases with a cloud computing service or software as a service provider have an executed data management agreement.
- Treat MnDOT records and data as a valuable asset;
- Manage records and data in their care, which means the records and data are easily found, retrieved, secured, backed up, and readable for the full retention period; and
- Keep records and data in MnDOT repositories or business applications and do not save records and data on a C: drive, removable drive, personal archives, personal email account, or a personally owned device.
- Serves as liaison between district or central office staff and the Records Manager.
Where can I find the Retention Schedule?
The Schedule can be located on the internal website, MnDOT Retention Schedule.
Does retention apply to electronic information?
Yes. It does not matter in what format the information is stored, it is still a record.
“The term "government records" means state and local records, including all cards, correspondence, discs, maps, memoranda, microfilms, papers, photographs, recordings, reports, tapes, writings, optical disks, and other data, information, or documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, storage media or conditions of use, made or received by an officer or agency of the state and an officer or agency of a county, city, town, school district, municipal subdivision or corporation or other public authority or political entity within the state pursuant to state law or in connection with the transaction of public business by an officer or agency.” Minnesota Statutes 138.17.
Does retention apply to copies of documents?
No. Convenience copies may be destroyed at any time. Do not keep a reference copy longer than the official record.
If I scan documents, do I need to keep the paper or can I shred it?
The electronic version can be kept as the official version and the paper can be disposed. The electronic version must accurately reflect the information on the paper document and remain accessible for its full retention period, Minnesota Statutes §15.17.
Can I keep records longer than the retention period?
MnDOT reduces risk by following the retention period consistently in the normal course of business. Reference copies should not be kept longer that the retention period.
What are the approved disposal methods? How do I dispose of confidential information?
- Minnesota Statutes §15.17 Official Records
- Minnesota Statutes §138.17 Government Records; Administration
- Minnesota Statutes §138.225 Prohibition against Unauthorized Disposal of Records; Penalty
- Minnesota Statutes §325L.12 Retention of Electronic Records; Originals
- Data Practices Act
- MnDOT Data Stewardship policy
- MnDOT Legal & Litigation Hold policy
- MnDOT Portable Computing Devices Data Security policy
- Minnesota Management & Budget, Statewide Operating Policy, Records Management
- Enterprise Security Information Sanitation and Destruction Standard, Office of Enterprise Technology
- Minnesota State Archives
- MnDOT Records Center (note: for employees only)
- Records Management Home Page (note: for employees only)
Responsible Senior Officer
Elizabeth M. Parker
Deputy Chief Counsel, Legal Services