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Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities (MIDA)

2.1 Library and Archives Canada
Authority for the Destruction of Transitory Records

December 1990

1  Approval

This authority provides approval to Ministers and government institutions for the destruction of TRANSITORY RECORDS.

2  Authority

The authority for this document is Section 12(1) of the Library and Archives of Canada Act, which states: "no government or ministerial record, whether or not it is surplus property of a government institution, shall be disposed of, including by being destroyed, without the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist or of a person to whom the Librarian and Archivist has, in writing, delegated the power to give such consents."

3  Application

This authority applies to all government institutions and ministerial records as defined in the Library and Archives of Canada Act.

4  Definition

Record, as defined in Section 2 of the Act, "means any documentary material other than a publication, regardless of medium or form."

TRANSITORY RECORDS are those records that are required only for a limited time to ensure the completion of a routine action or the preparation of a subsequent record. TRANSITORY RECORDS do not include records required by government institutions or Ministers to control, support, or document the delivery of programs, to carry out operations, to make decisions, or to account for activities of government.

5  Guidelines

Records Categories

For the purposes of records disposition, there are three broad categories of government records:

  • records common to the internal administration and operations of institutions;
  • records unique to the specific operational responsibilities of an institution; and,
  • ministerial records.
  • The disposal of common records of institutions is authorized in the Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities of the Government of Canada. The disposal of those records unique to the specific operational responsibilities of government institutions is approved by the Librarian and Archivist based on a review of records retention and disposal submissions prepared by institutions. Ministerial records, as defined in the Act, are disposed of by agreement between the Minister and the Librarian and Archivist.

Information of transitory value is found in all three categories of records. Such information needs to be retained for only a very short period of time before destruction.

5.1  Textual (Hardcopy) Records

Textual records that are transitory may include:

  • information in a form used for casual communication;
  • versions that were not communicated beyond the individual who created the document;
  • copies used for information, reference or convenience only; or
  • annotated drafts where the additional information is found in subsequent version, except where retention is necessary as evidence of approval or the evolution of the document.

5.2  Electronic Records

Transitory records in electronic form may exist in a variety of forms and formats regardless of data processing environments, from large centrally managed mainframes to stand-alone personal computers. The examples described below are applicable regardless of the environment.

This authority should be applied to electronic records within the context of the standard operating practices that institutions support for the effective and efficient administration of their automated information systems.

Electronic records that are transitory may include:

5.2.1  Input/Source Records

Electronic records entered into a system during an update process and not required for audit or legal purposes.

  • delete when the data have been verified and entered into the master file or database, or when no longer needed to support reconstruction of or serve as back-up to a master file or database

Electronic records of a master file or a portion of a master file that are transmitted or sent to another location.

  • if the master file is retained, delete the version at the transmittal location when action is completed.

5.2.2  Intermediate Input/Output Records

Electronic records containing data that are manipulated, sorted and/or moved from one run (i.e. execution of a program) to a subsequent run in the process of creating or updating a master file or database.

  • delete in accordance with system design specification

5.2.3  Valid Transaction File

Electronic records consisting of data that are used with a master file in the course of batch processing to create an updated master file. It excludes master files from one system that are used as transaction files in a second system.

  • delete in accordance with system design specifications

5.2.4  System Audit Records

Electronic records generated during the creation or use of a master file or database that contain information on the operation of the system except where they are required to support the integrity of the master file or database.

  • delete in accordance with system design specifications

5.2.5  Test Records

Electronic records consisting of routine or bench-mark data constructed or used for the purpose of testing system performance.

  • delete in accordance with system design specifications

5.2.6  Print Files

Electronic files copied from a master file or database where the sole purpose is toproduce hardcopy publications and/or printouts of tabulations, ledgers, registers and reports.

  • delete in accordance with system design specifications

5.2.7  Electronic Documents

Electronic documents can include messages transmitted in a data communication system (e.g. Email) and/or letters, memoranda, guidelines, directives and other documents normally generated or received in an office environment.

Electronic documents that are transitory may include:

  • information in a form used for casual communication;
  • process versions of electronic information that were not communicated outside the creating office
  • electronic versions of documents used for information, reference or convenience only;
  • draft versions of documents where annotations and additional information are incorporated into subsequent versions, except where retention is necessary as evidence of approval or the evolution of the document; and,
  • electronic documents recorded and stored on electronic media such as hard disks or floppy diskettes, are used to produce a hardcopy version, and a duplicate is maintained in hardcopy files.

5.3  Photographic Records

Photographic records that are transitory may include:

  • Process Photography, containing negatives created solely as an intermediate stage in printing operations, and where such negatives are used to create lithographic or photo off-set laces; and
  • Outs, containing photographs which do not become part of a collection, and are discarded immediately after creation because of poor quality duplication or repetitiveness. "Outs" do not include photographic records which are include with a group of records or other photographs for even a short period of time which are then believed to have lost their usefulness and are slated for "culling" from the group.

5.4  Moving Image and Sound Records

Moving image and sound records that are transitory may include;

  • intermediate film, video or sound recording material generated to prepare an audio, video, film or sound recording presentation or production, that are not required to reconstitute the completed production, and that are not defined as original footage or printing elements for final production.

6.  Inquiries

Inquiries concerning the application of this approval should be addressed to the Government Archives Division, Library and Archives Canada.

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