SFU Records Retention Schedule and Disposal Authority (RRSDA)
Freedom of Information Request and Privacy Complaint Case Files

Description | PIB | Authorities | Retentional rational | Rentention and filing guidelines | Status

RRSDA number


Record series

Freedom of Information Request and Privacy Complaint Case Files

Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR)

Archives and Records Management Department

Retention periods

Records Active retention (in office) Semi-active (records centre) Total retention Final disposition
Archives and Records Management Department: Access request case files; Correction of personal information case files; Inquiry intervention case files; Privacy complaint case files: CY + 1 year 5 years CY + 6 years Selective Retention by Archives
All other university departments: CY + 2 years Nil CY + 2 years Destruction
Electronic records in Archives' Request System database: Permanent Nil Permanent Full Retention by Archives

CY = Current calendar year; CFY = Current fiscal year; CS = Current semester; S/O = Superseded or obsolete; OPR = Office of Primary Responsibility; Non-OPR = All other departments.

Description, purpose and use of records

Records made or received in processing requests for access to information, correction of personal information, inquiry interventions, and privacy complaints in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOI/POP) Act.

Access request records may include the applicant’s letter of request, correspondence, memoranda and email; access recommendation summaries and reports, detailed review of records, and decision letters; research agreements signed by applicants as a condition of access to and use of records; a copy of the records responsive to the applicant’s request and a copy of the records as disclosed to the applicant after severing; and records documenting a request that the OIPC review an access decision.

Access requests are processed by either informal or formal procedures. Applicants first apply for access to the department holding the records. If the department determines that no FOI/POP exceptions to the applicant’s right of access apply, it routinely discloses the records itself (informal procedure); if it determines that some exceptions may apply, the case is referred to the Archives and Records Management Department (formal procedure). This schedule applies only to records arising from the latter, i.e. formal access requests.

Correction of personal information request records may include the applicant's letter of request, correspondence, memoranda and email; correction recommendations and decision letters; a copy of the applicant's statement of disagreement; reference material used in the formulation of a correction decision; and a log of personnel time spent processing the request.

The Office of Primary Responsibility for the records determines whether a correction of factual personal information is warranted based on a consideration of adequate proof presented by the applicant, the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the FOI/POP Policy and Procedure Manual, relevant Commissioner's Orders, the University Act and applicable University policies and procedures. If no correction is made in response to an applicant's request, the information is annotated to indicate the applicant's concern, usually with a statement of disagreement supplied by the applicant.

Inquiry intervention records may include written invitations to intervene in inquiries being held by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, correspondence, memoranda and email; initial and reply submissions prepared by the applicant, the relevant public body and the intervenor(s); affidavits; notices of written inquiry; portfolio officers' fact reports; instructions for written inquiry procedures; handwritten notes; background material relevant to the formulation of written submissions; and Commissioner's orders.

SFU may be invited by the Information and Privacy Commissioner to make representations at an inquiry in which it is deemed that the University has a broader interest in an issue being decided at that inquiry. Generally, SFU participates by supplying intial and reply submissions as part of the inquiry procedures. The records above reflect the documentary by-products of such particpation.

Privacy complaint records may include the applicant's letter of complaint, correspondence, email and memoranda; copies of the records responsive to the privacy complaint; records documenting advice supplied by the department (generated from the Archives' Advice database); reporting letters issued by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (final and draft versions) and replies to the reporting letters (final and draft versions); and notes to file.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia investigates complaints concerning the collection, use or disclosure of personal information by public bodies. The department opens a file to document a privacy complaint only after it has been notified by the OIPC that an investigation will occur. The records above reflect the documentary by-products of the department's response to privacy complaints.

The Archives and Records Management Department is the Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR) for the records documenting all of the above activities. This schedule also covers the Archives' Request System database, used to track formal requests.

For research agreements relating to access and use of private records, see RRSDA 1999-064, Research Agreement (Private Records) Files.

Personal Information Bank (PIB)

This series is a Personal Information Bank; click here for PIB description.


These records are created, used, retained and managed in accordance with the following authorities:

Retention rationale

The FOI / POP Act requires that personal information used to make a decision that directly affects an individual must be retained for at least one year. Cases are filed by year initiated rather than closed; "CY + 6 years" allows sufficient time for closure of cases and follows the department's standard retention rule, thus facilitating application. See Retention and Filing Guidelines for a description of those records that will be selected for archival retention. Database records summarizing each case have on-going administrative and research value for long-term statistical analysis.

Retention and filing guidelines

Archives and Records Management Department (OPR):

A new file is opened for each formal request and privacy complaint. All files are numbered by year and consecutive case number (e.g. 1999-005 = fifth case of 1999). Files which close in a later year are returned to their year-block series.

The type of case file is denoted by colour coding. Access requests are housed in green file folders; correction of personal information requests are housed in organge file folders; inquiry intervention requests are housed in yellow file folders; and privacy complaints are housed in red file folders.

Apply this schedule to both paper files and the corresponding electronic, word-processing documents.

Files relating to the following types of cases have on-going values and are selected for archival retention: - the case was a request for correction of personal information; - the case resulted in a signed research agreement as a condition of access; - the case proceeded to the OIPC for mediation, inquiry or judicial review; - the case was an invitation to intervene in a OIPC inquiry; or - the case was a privacy complaint.

When arranging and describing the records, use the Request System database to compile a list of cases that generated a research agreement or proceeded to mediation, inquiry or judical review. Select these archival files for permanent retention; the complete file will be retained with the exception of duplicate copies of the records responsive to the access request (i.e. keep only the highlighted copy of the records showing information severed and the FOI/POP exception invoked). Remove the non-archival files for destruction by confidential shredding. Also select all orange, yellow and red file folders to capture the remaining case files of on-going value (as described above). Delete all electronic word-processing files.

Other departments (Non-OPR):

Ideally, departments should open one file for each request and/or privacy complaint involving records held by the department. Because of the small number of requests and privacy complaints received, however, departments may wish to simply open one file for all documentation relating to all requests and privacy complaints in a calendar year. Within this file, keep together all documents relating to the same case. Typically, such documents per case will be few: applicant’s original letter of request, memoranda to and from the Archives, correspondence cc’d from the Archives, access recommendations, correction recommedndations and transmittal memos. If a case carries over into the new year, move all case documents into that year’s file. If the documentation for a single case becomes extensive, create a file just for that case.

At the end of the calendar year, close the request and complaint file(s) and retain for two additional years, then destroy. Do not send these files to the University Records Centre (URC). These records contain sensitive personal information and must be destroyed by confidential shredding; contact Facilities Management to make arrangements.

Keep general information about FOI / POP policy and procedures on a separate reference file and retain only the most current version (e.g. instructions on how to process a routine disclosure). Most of this information is also available on the Archives' Web site.


RRSDA is in force.

Approved by the University Archivist: 22 Jan 2009

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