Papers relating to working parties and review groups

June 2004

Policy overview

The policy provides guidance on the management, retention and disposal of papers relating to the activities of University Working Parties or Review Groups. It is a University-wide policy and covers all such parties or groups that are established to undertake University-related business.

Definition of a Working Party (WP)

A Working Party or Review Group (WP) is a committee that is established for a limited time in order to perform a specific function or reach a specific objective. The WP is allocated a Chair and Secretary and is usually made up of a representative selection of University staff and/or students as appropriate.

Reporting arrangements

It is usual practice for a WP to be appointed by, and to report to, a formal and permanent committee of the University (the “parent committee”). The parent committee considers the WP final report, which is produced once WP deliberations are complete. It is University policy to retain permanently a record of decisions and discussions that shape its history and development. A record of WP activities is retained through the official papers of its parent committee. Any WP that is not appointed by, or does not report to, a parent committee is unlikely to be undertaking significant activity, but still falls within the scope of this policy where relevant.

Working party papers: Records Management practice

The WP Secretary is responsible for the management, retention and disposal of its papers both during and after the WP deliberations. It is the role of the Secretary to ensure, where necessary, that the parent committee receives the necessary report and is able to record for permanent retention the relevant work of the WP and its deliberations.

Once a WP completes its work and has reported to the parent committee in the necessary way, the Secretary retains all the original papers for five academic years after the academic year in which the report is published. As a guide, the following information is retained as a minimum during this period:

  • Original terms of reference;
  • A list of the original membership and any stated reasons for members being appointed;
  • Meeting minutes;
  • Final report[1];
  • Supporting/background evidence and documentation, eg responses to surveys or consultations;
  • Any other relevant information that documents the activities of the WP.

It is at the discretion of the Secretary if a greater amount or more detailed information is retained within the papers.

At the end of the retention period, the papers are destroyed confidentially.

Date for destruction

Once a WP completes its work, the WP Secretary establishes a date for destruction of the papers. This date must be in line with the retention period set out above.

The Secretary acknowledges the possibility that the physical destruction of the papers may be carried out by another individual (for example, a successor to their post) and ensures that clear instruction is provided on the future retention and disposal of the papers.

Exceptions to the policy

The policy recognises that, under certain exceptional circumstances, it may be appropriate for papers relating to a WP to be retained in full for longer than the established retention period, in some cases, permanently. The WP Secretary is responsible for ensuring that the reason for the extended retention is known and stated clearly within the papers.

The importance of policy compliance and the University legal obligations

Adherence to this policy is an important part of the University's compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Act provides access to any individual (upon request) to any information held by the University, subject to specific exemptions. Requests for information relating to the activity of a WP are dealt with in line with this policy. The University contravenes its legal obligations under the Act if requested information is not disclosed despite it remaining in the University's possession; or if the University is unable to retrieve the information despite the existence of this policy.

Policy Agreed: Summer 2004
Policy Effective from: October 2004
Policy due for renewal: Summer 2007

[1] Draft reports should be managed in accordance with the specific University policy.

Further information

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