GAP 200.240, Retention Period of Accounting Documents
- Policy Statement
- General Responsibility
- General Guidelines
- Document Retention Schedule - Controller's Division
- Document Retention Schedule - Financial Services Departments
- Document Retention Schedule - Other Departments
Duke University has put into place guidelines in order to standardize retention of accounting documents, designating specific retention periods, as well as official methods and locations for storage.
Minimum retention requirements for accounting documents are established as part of an effective internal control program to ensure the University can provide the documents requested by any federal, state and local agencies within the Statutes of Limitations. Other benefits include ensuring preservation of historical accounting documents, optimizing the use of space, minimizing the cost of document retention, and ensuring the proper destruction of outdated and useless documents.
All University accounting documents should be retained in the manner outlined in this GAP. Official accounting documents of the University should be destroyed in accordance with GAP 200.250, Destruction of Accounting Documents.
When referencing the document retention schedule, keep these factors in mind:
- Retention periods are classified by broad categories of documents for the departments of the Controller’s Division (see section IV) and by department for all other relevant accounting documents generated by Financial Services (see section V). If you are unsure as to what category a particular accounting document belongs, please e-mail, AcctgSysAdminduke.edu, for assistance, or call (919) 684-2752. Do not destroy the accounting document until a retention period is established.
- Retention periods for departments outside of the Controllers Division and Financial Services should follow the general guidelines outlined in section VI. If you are unsure as to what category a particular accounting document belongs, please e-mail, AcctgSysAdminduke.edu, for assistance, or call (919) 684-2752. Do not destroy the accounting document until a retention period is established.
- If you are aware of an audit of Duke’s financial records being conducted by a federal or state agency, do not destroy any accounting documents that may be required for the audit until completion of the audit.
- Where documents having one retention period cannot be separated from documents having a longer retention period, both documents should be retained for the longer period.
- Duplicate copies of a document (i.e., documents that are not the original or official copy) do not need specific approval for their destruction.
- Documents in this procedure, which have retention periods of less than one year or are to be retained until superseded do not need specific approval for their destruction.
Each department or unit that maintains University accounting documents is responsible for establishing document retention management practices that adhere to the policies outlined in this GAP and GAP 200.250, Destruction of Accounting Documents.
Each unit’s administrative manager or a designee must:
- implement the unit’s and/or office's document management practices;
- ensure that those practices are consistent with this policy;
- educate all other staff in adhering to these practices;
- ensure that access to confidential files is restricted; the carryover of these restrictions to University Archives should be negotiated at the time of transfer;
- destroy inactive documents that have exceeded their applicable retention periods, if they have no archival value. The University Archivist should be contacted if you have inactive documents that may be of historical value. If you question whether a document or class of documents has archival value to the University, contact the University Archivist.
Administrative offices responsible for maintaining on-line applications retain the on-line transactions. Example: Administrative Services Management (ASM) has oversight of the SAP system.
Internal Billing transactions
Departments initiating the invoices retain the original documents
Departments responsible for the microfiche retain the original fiche.
Financial documents supporting sponsored research, statistical records, and all other documents pertinent to an award should be retained for a period of three years from the date of submission of the final expenditure report. For awards that are renewed quarterly or annually, retain documents for three years from the date of submission of the quarterly or annual financial reports, as authorized by the Federal Agency.
Exceptions to this general guideline are:
- If litigation is pending - retain documents until settled.
- Documents representing real property and equipment acquired with federal funds retain for three years after disposal.
- Documents transferred or maintained by federal awarding agency - no retention period.
Original documents from external sources should be maintained a minimum of 7 years with a few exceptions. Retention of departmental copies is at the discretion of the department. Departmental procedure should be established.
Original documents, files, film, and microfiche should be maintained for a minimum of 7 years with a few exceptions.
Office of the University Archivist
The University Archivist will be a resource for developing retention guidelines for documents not covered by this procedure. The University Archives is the official repository for permanent but inactive documents.