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Archives & Records Management

Office of the City Auditor

phone: 503-865-4100


1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550, Portland, OR 97201

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Preface to the General Records Retention Schedule


The general retention schedule establishes a timetable (retention period) for a record’s life cycle, and provides authorization for a record’s ultimate disposition.  A record’s ultimate disposition is either destruction or permanent preservation.

The retention period is established based upon a record’s administrative, fiscal, legal, historic and research value.

All City employees have the responsibility to preserve and maintain the records related to their work activities according to the applicable record retention schedule. 

In the event of anticipated or pending litigation, City employees must not destroy any records that may be related to the subject of the litigation, even if the retention schedule indicates the retention period has expired.  Please consult the City Attorney’s Office for information on recordkeeping responsibilities in the event of litigation.

When to Use the General Schedule

The City of Portland record retention schedule consists of the General Schedule and Bureau-specific schedules.   The General Schedule covers records that are commonly in use by almost all City agencies.  The Bureau-specific schedules cover records that are related to specialized functions of individual City bureaus, offices or agencies. 

Employees should become familiar with both the General Schedule and their Bureau-specific schedule.  To determine the proper retention for a record, employees should first consult their Bureau-specific schedule; if the record is not listed there, then they should look to the General Schedule.

If described records appear to belong to a record series in both the General and Bureau-specific schedules, the two retention periods should match; but if not, the longer retention period should be followed.  If an office possesses records that it believes have historical significance, but the retention schedule does not indicate permanent or historical value, contact Archives/Records Management for guidance.  Please bring any retention schedule questions or inconsistencies to the attention of Archives/Records Management.


Definitions and Elements of the General Schedule

Archives – records documenting the history of the City, including significant policies, projects and activities.  These records act as evidence of the operations and actions of the City and also provide important social and political history.


Authority – the Oregon Administrative Rule or other regulation or statute that is the legal basis for the City’s retention period.[1]

Confidential some records should be treated confidentially to protect the privacy, safety or rights of individuals or the City.  A record designated as confidential in the retention schedule does not necessarily mean that it is exempt from disclosure in a public records request.  Consult bureau policies or the City Attorney before releasing records that may be confidential. 


Convenience Copy a copy of a record maintained for ease of access and reference.  See Record Copy


Description a description of the types of records or functions associated with that record series.  The description is not exhaustive – staff should use judgment in deciding which category a certain record belongs to.


Office of Record – bureau or office responsible for maintaining the City’s record copy for the entire retention period.  In cases where a specific bureau is mentioned as the office of record, that means that copies of the record that exist elsewhere can be retained as needed[2].  When the office of record is listed as Originating Office/Bureau that means that the individual office responsible for the activity within the bureau that created the record must retain it for the entire retention period.

PARC –Portland Archives and Records Center


Record – For the purposes of retention a public record is defined by Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 192.005(5):

(5) "Public record"

   (a) Means any information that:

      (A) Is prepared, owned, used or retained by a state agency or political subdivision;

      (B) Relates to an activity, transaction or function of a state agency or political subdivision;


      (C) Is necessary to satisfy the fiscal, legal, administrative or historical policies, requirements or needs of the state agency or political subdivision.


Record Copy – the single copy of a record, often the original, which is designated as the official copy to be preserved for the entire retention period.[3]  Only the record copy needs to be retained for the full retention period.  Other copies, called “convenience copies” should be retained only as long as they have immediate value.  In some cases the record copy may be an electronic or digital file.

Record Series – The individual categories in the records retention schedule.  Each category represents a collection of files, documents or electronically stored information kept together (either physically or intellectually) because it relates to a particular subject or function, results from the same activity, documents a specific type of transaction or has some other relationship arising out of its creation, receipt, maintenance, or use.   

Schedule Number the schedule number is the alphanumeric code assigned to each record series.   The schedule number is used when sending records to the Archives and Records Center (PARC).

Retention Notes – additional information related to the retention requirements

Retention Period – The length of time the record copy must be retained by the Office of Record to meet requirements based on its administrative, fiscal, legal, or historic value.


Vital Records –  records which are essential to the continued functioning or reconstitution of an agency during and after an emergency; and also those records which are essential to protect the rights and interests of that agency and of the individuals directly affected by its actions.  The office of record must ensure that vital records will survive a disaster and that appropriate records are readily available during an emergency or in the period immediately following a disaster.

[1] The City’s retention period may sometimes be longer, but must not be shorter than the retention period prescribed in the cited authority.

[2] PARC will only store records that come from the office of record and will not store “retain as needed” records.

[3] PARC will only store the record copy and will not store convenience copies.