How to Read an Information Schedule

Information schedules provide a timetable that governs the life span of information to ensure that it is managed and kept or destroyed according to legislated requirements.

Information schedules consist of primaries and secondaries that explain what types of records are covered and how to manage them.


The primary is the basic building block of an information schedule. It describes and identifies groups of records that relate to one business function and makes connections to related records.

For example, primary 6820 Information Systems Operations covers administrative information relating to computer-based information systems.

Within each primary there are several secondaries.


Secondaries cover sub-groups of records that relate to different functions and activities. They connect the records to timetables governing how long they are kept in active use, semi-active storage and whether they will be destroyed or preserved. Information classified under ARCS and ORCS will have a code made up of both the primary and the secondary numbers.

For example, secondary 6820-05 covers information system backup data.

Information Schedule Sample

Information schedules have a standard structure with several parts, as shown in the following fictional example. Click the outlined sections to read a brief description:

Information schedule fictional sample

Information schedule fictional sample



  1. Primary number and title

Each primary has a number and a title. The primary covers a specific function.

  1. Scope note

The scope note describes the high-level purpose of the records and the activities or processes that lead to records creation. It provides information about purpose, uses and context that applies to the entire primary.

  1. Cross references

Cross references show connections to related classifications in ARCS, ORCS or Special Schedules.

  1. Office of primary responsibility

The office of primary responsibility (OPR) is the office within a government ministry or agency that is responsible for the business function related to the records. The OPR maintains the official records in order to meet operational, financial, legal, audit and other requirements.

  1. Secondary number and title

Specific categories or series of records are classified with secondary numbers and descriptive titles. The combination of the primary and secondary numbers makes the classification code (for example, 23120-04). It is linked to a retention and disposition timetable.

  1. Retention and disposition

Each secondary has a retention and disposition timetable to identify how long records are kept in active storage space, if they are stored for semi-active period and whether they are destroyed or preserved in the government archives.

Find out what the information schedule acronyms and codes mean.

  1. Special flags

Special flags indicate additional context or restrictions for the records. These flags appear to the left of the secondary number and are used for:

  • PIB: files contain personal information organized or retrievable by the name of an individual or an identifying number assigned to an individual
  • FOI: files require access restrictions under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
  • VR: files contain vital records, that is, information required for the functioning of the office during or after a disaster or emergency, and are essential for preserving the rights of citizens, government and public sector organizations

  1. Explanatory notes and qualifiers

Secondaries may have notes or qualifiers to further explain how the records function, office procedures and practices or to summarize how the records are governed during their creation, use and disposition.

  1. Retention terms

A variety of terms and abbreviations are used in the active, semi-active and final disposition columns.

Find out what the information schedule acronyms and codes mean.