Records Management and the FOIPPA

Government employees must keep complete and accurate records sufficient to document their decision-making and work activities – the Contract Documentation Checklist may help to ensure that the files are complete. These records must be managed in accordance with government records management policy and standards. Records management is an integral part of the contracting process.

It is essential that complete records be maintained throughout all stages of the contract life cycle, beginning at the planning stage until well beyond completion of the works or services.  Well maintained contract records assist ministries to meet their obligations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) and provide:

  • a good audit trail;
  • a useful reference for future contracts; and
  • evidence of proper planning, fair acquisition, effective performance evaluation, proper payment processing and contract discharge.

 

Where Should Contract Files be Kept?

Procurement and contract files, including the official copies of opportunity notices, attachments, and bids, should be kept in a filing system (either electronic or paper-based) that is under the control of the ministry responsible for the contract. If documents are received through BC Bid, such as electronic bids, download them into the appropriate electronic or hard copy file when the opportunity closes. 

Most contract records are classified and scheduled in ARCS (Administrative Records Classification System) primary 1070 Procurement and Contract Management.

However, some types of contracts such as: third- party program delivery contracts; complex, large-scale, long term service contracts ; construction contracts, or contracts with guarantees, warranties and indemnities that have long-term legal liability issues are scheduled in the applicable ministry’s ORCS (Operational Records Classification System).  For ministries, Ministry Records Officer can provide advice regarding which schedule applies.

 

How Long Must Contract Files be Kept? 

The retention and disposition for files is documented in the records schedule that covers the ministry’s contracts.  For example, files classified under ARCS secondary 1070-20 are closed upon expiry or termination of the contract and conclusion of all extensions to the contract, and then kept for 7 years before destruction.  Approval to dispose of records must be obtained in accordance with the Information Management Act, government policy and the ministry’s internal business processes. 

Note: For administrative convenience, ministries may classify procurement records with the contract management files scheduled under ARCS secondary 1070-20 rather than the secondary for procurement files (ARCS 1070-30).  In that event, they will be retained for the retention period governing secondary -20.

The Government Records Service (GRS) website is a good resource to find information about managing government records. The following links are from the GRS website:

  • Records Management Guides - a wide variety of guides, best practices and other documents, covering topics such as how to manage your email, apply records schedules, and use the electronic filing systems.
  • Records Management Training - there is a range of records management training available to assist government employees. 

 

Disclosure of Contract Related Records or Information

The Guidance for the Release of Information and/or Documents Related to Competitive Procurement Opportunities provides a table to show what information may be disclosed to vendors during the procurement process, and how and when these documents should be released.  For more information on the application of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to procurement and contract documents see the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Policy and Procedures Manual or contact the Information Access Office (IAO).

 

Privacy Protection

Privacy Protection Schedule (PPS) for use by ministries must be completed and attached as a schedule to any contract between ministries and a contractor under which the contractor will be collecting, creating, using, disclosing or storing "Personal Information", unless it is not intended that the ministry will own or control the personal information. 

For the purposes of a contract with government, “Personal Information” means recorded information about an identifiable individual, other than business contact information, collected or created by the contractor as a result of the contract or any previous contract between the Province and the contractor dealing with the same subject matter, but excluding any such information that, if the PPS did not apply to it, would not be under the “control of a public body” within the meaning of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA).

The PPS must be in the form set out unless an alternative version has been authorized by the Corporate Information and Records Management Office (CIRMO), Ministry of Finance.  The PPS will help ensure that the high privacy standards set by FOIPPA are maintained for personal information held by contractors performing services for public bodies.

FOIPPA requires ministries to conduct a privacy impact assessment (PIA) for a proposed enactment, system, project, program or activity or when making changes to an existing one.  The PIA will determine whether or not Personal Information is included in a contract, and therefore whether or not a Privacy Protection Schedule is required.  More information on the PIA requirements and submission/review process can be found in the Privacy Management and Accountability Policy or by calling/emailing the Privacy and Access Helpline at 250 356-1851 or privacy.helpline@gov.bc.ca.

Please contact the Privacy and Access helpline to help determine if the Privacy Protection Schedule is required for a contract.

 

Questions or Can’t Find What's Needed? 

For ministries, contact the Ministry Records Officer or the ministry’s Procurement Specialist.  The broader public sector can contact the appropriate Corporate Records Officer or with their internal procurement contacts.