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Retention Guidelines for Common Administrative Records of the Government of Canada

Section 1, Part 1

General Administration Function
(Function-based arrangement)

Section 1 - Introduction

1.1 General

The following guideline provides guidance to institutions regarding the establishment of minimum retention periods for those common administrative records which support the General Administration Function of the Government of Canada.

This guideline should be used in accordance with instructions contained in the 'General Introduction' to the Retention Guidelines for Common Administrative Records of the Government of Canada and in conjunction with Multi-Institutional Disposition Authority (MIDA) 98/001, General Administration Function.

1.2 Disposition

Nothing in this guideline should be seen as constituting an authority or requirement to dispose of records. For direction regarding the disposition of common administrative records related to the General Administration Function, institutions should consult the Library and Archives Canada's Multi Institutional Disposition Authority (MIDA) 98/001, General Administration Function.

1.3 Scope

This guideline applies to all common administrative records (i.e. administrative records which are common to or shared by all federal government institutions) which are collected, created or received by institutions in support of the administration of the General Administration Function of the Government of Canada, regardless of how the records are organized or controlled within each institution.

The General Administration Function encompasses the functions, sub-functions, processes, activities, and transactions of administrative business concerning the management of general administration services commonly conducted in and across all federal government institutions to facilitate the application of operational policies and the delivery of programmes and services. The main legislation underpinning the General Administration Function includes the Library and Archives of Canada Act, the Access to Information Act, and the Privacy Act. The General Administration Function includes the following three (3) sub-functions: management of government information; security, and administrative support.

In applying this retention guideline, institutions should take care to ensure that:

  • the records are not operational in nature;

  • the records are not of a mixed operational and administrative character;

  • the records do not support an administrative function uniquely or specifically assigned to an Office of Primary Interest (OPI) or Office of Collateral Interest (OCI) (See definition of OPI and OCI below);

  • the records are not otherwise excluded from the application of MIDA 98/001 by virtue of the definitions and scope statement contained in the Appendix I of MIDA 98/001

  • the records are not dated earlier than 1946

  • all administrative actions have been completed for a record before applying the applicable retention guidance

1.4 Offices of Primary Interest and Offices of Collateral Interest

This retention guideline does not apply to those records of Offices of Primary Interest (OPI), Offices of Collateral Interest (OCI) and central agencies that are collected, created or received in the pursuance of their mandated role in administering General Administration on behalf of the Government of Canada. Examples of such government bodies include Public Works and Government Services Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat, the Privy Council Office, and the Offices of the Information and Privacy Commissioners, and any other institution mandated to perform, in full or in part, a General Administration function on behalf of the Government of Canada. Similarly, in the area of security, this guideline does not apply to organizations such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Communications Security Establishment, Treasury Board Secretariat and the Privy Council Office (See MIDA 98/001, Appendix I, Section B "Scope of the Authority").

This retention guideline, however, does apply to such organizations when those records are collected, created or received in support of General Administration Functions and activities that are common to or shared by all federal government institutions.

1.5 Personal Information

The retention of personal information contained in records that has been used by a federal institution in the course of its business is governed by Section 6 of the Privacy Act, and Section 4 and 7 of the Privacy Act Regulations.

Section 4. (1) of the Privacy Act Regulations states that personal information that is used for an administrative purpose (i.e. the use of the information in a decision making process that directly affects that individual) must be retained for a minimum of two (2) years unless the individual consents to its earlier disposal:

4. (1) Personal information concerning an individual that has been used by a government institution for an administrative purpose shall be retained by the institution

(a) for at least two years following the last time the personal information was used for an administrative purpose unless the individual consents to its disposal; and
(b) where a request for access to the information has been received, until such time as the individual has had the opportunity to exercise all his rights under the Act.

Guidance on the retention for records that contain personal information and have been subject to an "Access to Information" request is provided in Section 7 of the Privacy Act Regulations, which states;

7. The head of a government institution shall retain for a period of at least two years following the date on which a request for access to personal information is received by the institution under paragraph 8(2)(e) of the Act (requests made by an investigative body specified in the regulations)
(a) a copy of every request received; and
(b) a record of any information disclosed pursuant to such a request.

In establishing retention periods for records containing personal information that are generated in support of the General Administration Function, federal institutions should ensure that the Privacy Act and Privacy Act Regulations are applied.

1.6 Retention Period Guidelines

When records are covered by an existing MIDA the retention information offered takes the form of retention guidelines expressed in months, calendar years and fiscal years. In the absence of specific retention guidance and unless specified otherwise, the five year retention period for policy and procedures and the two year retention period for routine records should be applied to similar records related to each sub-heading/activity listed in this function. Please refer to the "General Retention Guideline" provided at the beginning of the "General Administration Function" table for additional information.

1.7 Guidance

For advice and assistance regarding the retention guidelines, please contact the Recordkeeping Liaison Centre.

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