Records Management Glossary

This glossary provides definitions for records management terms used in the B.C. government and is part of the Recorded Information Management (RIM) manual.



Accessibility: The availability and usability of recorded information; the characteristic of being easily reached, retrieved, or used with a minimum of barriers.

See also Usability

Accession: A body of records registered as a unit for the purposes of physical and administrative control (i.e., physical identification and control of transfer, storage, retrieval, and disposition). Accessions typically cover records maintained in a records storage facility contracted by government. Upon expiry of the active and semi-active retention periods, records in the accession are either destroyed, or if scheduled for selective or full retention, transferred to the custody of the government archives.

See also Records; Records schedule

Accession number: A six-digit number identifying a group of records storage boxes (or other records storage containers) to be transferred to records storage facilities contracted by government. Government Records Service (GRS) issues and tracks the numbers, which are used to label, transfer, store, retrieve, and dispose of records.

Box Number: 91-0123-01
91-0123 = the accession number issued by Records Centre Services, GRS
-01 = the first consecutive box number in accession 91-0123

See also One-time accession number; Ongoing accession number

Accuracy: The qualities of a record that render it precise, correct, truthful, free of error or distortion.

See also Records

Active records: Records that are in current use and that need to be retained and maintained in office space and equipment close to users.

See also Inactive records; Life cycle; Primary value; Records schedule; Semi-active records

Administrative records: Records that are common to all offices and that are distinct from operational records. Administrative records support functions such as the management of facilities, property, materiel, finance, personnel, and information systems. Administrative records also relate to common management functions such as committee activities, agreement development, contract management, information services and obtaining legal opinions. Although considered to be administrative, these records often are associated with operational functions (for example, a committee may serve an operational function). In the B.C. government, administrative records are classified and scheduled according to ARCS.

See also Classification system; Function; Records schedule

Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS): The government-wide standard for classifying, filing, retrieving and disposition scheduling of administrative records. ARCS also includes freedom of information and protection of privacy designations. ARCS is a block numeric system, reflecting function and subject.

See also Administrative records; Block numeric system; Classification; Operational Records Classification System

Alienation of records: The permanent transfer of records and all present and future rights to the records from the Crown provincial to another entity. Records may only be alienated from the Crown with the approval of the Legislative Assembly, which may be obtained in one of two ways:

  1. Legislative approval of records retention and disposition schedules in accordance with the Document Disposal Act; or
  2. New or amended legislation that approves the transfer of government assets, including records, from the Crown provincial to another entity.

See also Dispose; RIM Policy 504: Records Transfer Outside of Government (PDF)

Archival appraisal: The process of determining the final disposition of records. Records having enduring value to government and society are appraised by a government archivist, and preserved and made accessible at the government archives. Archival appraisal in the B.C. government is part of the process of developing a records schedule. Archival appraisal focuses on the information content of the records and the context of their creation. It takes into consideration their value for current administrative, operational, legal and fiscal use, as well as long-term evidential and informational values. Further explanation and a list of standard appraisal questions is provided in chapter one of the Standard ORCS Kit.

See also Archives; Enduring value; Evidential value; Final disposition; Full retention; Preservation; Selective retention

Archival records: See Records

Archival value: See Enduring value


  1. An organization or program area responsible for managing archives
  2. Documents and other information objects created or received and accumulated by a person or organization in the course of the conduct of affairs, and preserved because of their continuing value
  3. The building or part of a building where physical archival materials are located

See also Digital archives, Government archives.

ARCS: See Administrative Records Classification System

Audit value: The value records may have in documenting the generation, expenditure, or transfer of monies, or other types of business functions, which are required for audit purposes. Audit values may be affected by federal or provincial statutes and regulations that govern records retention and disposition. Audit value is determined by statutory or regulatory audit periods.

See also Fiscal value; Function; Primary value

Authenticity: The quality of being genuine, not a counterfeit, and free from tampering or corruption. Authenticity alone does not automatically imply that the content of a record is reliable or accurate; it merely establishes that a record is what it purports to be and has verifiably been created by the person who claims to be the creator.

See also: Accuracy, Integrity, Records, Reliability, Trustworthiness


Block numeric system: A records classification system based on the assignment of blocks or groups of numbers to represent primary and secondary headings. The block numeric administrative and operational records classification systems (Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS)) are the standards for describing the recorded information resources of the B.C. government. They are based upon the federal government model and utilize three and four-digit numbers for ARCS and five-digit numbers for ORCS.

See also Classification system; Primary; Primary block; Secondary


Cabinet committees: Cabinet committee records relate to the establishment, organization, and functions of Cabinet committees and related deputy ministers’ committees. These include ministry and agency submissions prepared for Cabinet or its committees. Records types include correspondence, submissions, significant draft submissions, working materials and supporting documentation, notices, agendas, minutes, records of decision, reports, and presentation handouts.

See also ARCS 201; Correspondence; Executive Records; Government Records; Legislative records; Member of the Legislative Assembly records; Office of the Premier ORCS: Section 1 Cabinet Office (PDF); Working materials

Case file: A file containing records pertaining to a specific time-limited entity, such as a person, event, project, transaction, product, or organization, that is part of a series of similar files.

Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS) usually classify case file series under secondary numbers and titles at secondary number –20 and higher, followed by alphabetical or numerical codes.

See also Case file; Codes; Record series; Subject files

Classification: The process of identifying records or information in accordance with a predetermined filing or security system. This includes determination of the function and/or subject of a record and selection of the appropriate classification for filing; in the B.C. government, this involves selecting the appropriate secondary number and title.

See also Classification system; Function; Secondary

Classification system: A system for organizing records based upon function and subject, for the purpose of facilitating retrieval and filing. In the B.C. government, records classification is combined with scheduling in one integrated system known as Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS), using a block numeric system to provide a unique code for each classification (or “primary”).

See also Block numeric system; Codes; File operations; Function; Integrated records classification and scheduling system; Primary; Records schedule; Record series

Codes: Alphabetic or numeric symbols that help identify and locate a file within a series of case files or subject files.

See also Block numeric system; Case file; Record series

Common Records: Records found throughout government (i.e., similar types of records created by multiple offices in relation to operational functions), which may be covered by any type of records schedule, as appropriate.

See also, ARCS; ORCS; ORS; Special Schedules

Completeness: The presence within a record of all the physical and intellectual elements (e.g., a signature, official letterhead, file code, and/or date, etc.) required by the creator and its governing body for it to be capable of serving its intended purpose.

See also Accuracy; Reliability

Computer Output Microform (COM): Computer output produced directly onto microfilm/microform, without paper printout as an intermediary.

See also Microform

Confidential record: A record containing certain information that requires protection against unauthorized access or disclosure in accordance with a security classification system.

See also Security classification

Conservation: All actions that can be taken to ensure the long-term survival of the physical format of records.

See also Preservation

Conversion: The act of transferring recorded information from one physical medium or format to another, especially data from an obsolete format to a current format; migration. Conversion is more than copying files. It involves a change in media, such as from diskette to tape, from paper to microform, optical disk or electronic format (or the reverse), from one version of an application to a later version, or from one application to another.

See also Imaging; Microform; Migration; Original record; Physical format; Quality control; Redundant source record

Corporate Records Officer (CRO): See Records Officer

Correspondence: Written communication in paper or electronic form (e.g., letters, memoranda, faxes, emails).

See also Email

Creating agency: The government organization that is responsible for specific records at the time the file containing them was closed, or in other words, at the time they ceased to be active.

See also Current legal custodian; Legal custody; Provenance; Transferring agency

Current legal custodian: The ministry or other body that has current legal custody of the records.

See also Creating agency; Legal custody; Physical custody; Transferring agency


Data: Individual facts or values not significant to a business until analysed and/or preserved as a record of the business’ transactions and operations. Data is the raw material stored in a structured manner that, given context, becomes information.

See also Data administration; DatabaseDigital records; Electronic data processing; Encryption; Metadata; Records

Data administration: Developing and administering the policies, procedures, practices and plans for defining, organizing, protecting and efficiently utilizing data. Promotes consistency in scope, meaning, and handling of data throughout an organization.

See also Data; Information resource management

Database: A common type of electronic system, consisting of a number of structured “fields” where pieces of information are stored, and can be sorted, manipulated, and retrieved in different ways for a variety of purposes. Complex databases re-use information and then display and print it in any number of combinations with other information, thereby creating electronic records.

See also Data; Electronic system

Deaccessioning: See Permanent Removal

Deposited: "Filed, registered, recorded and kept" as interpreted defined in the Document Disposal Act (RSBC 1996, c. 99, s. 1).

Destruction of records: The various methods of destroying inactive records scheduled for destruction when authorized under the Document Disposal Act (e.g., by shredding, incineration, pulping or recycling). Methods for secure destruction of electronic records are also covered by this term.

See also Records schedule

Digital archives:

  1. An organization or program area that serves as a trusted digital repository, with the responsibility and capacity for permanently preserving digital archival records and making them publicly accessible
  2. The digital records of an organization identified for permanent preservation by an archives

See also Archives, Digital records, Government archives

Digital information: See Digital records

Digital records: Records consisting of information that is entered, created, manipulated and/or stored on digital media/storage devices. This includes:

  • records that are born digital
  • digitized records (i.e., records that have been converted from a non-digital format)
  • unstructured data (e.g., documents and electronic messages)
  • structured data maintained within electronic systems

For purposes of RIM policy this term is used synonymously with “electronic records”.

See also Data; Database; Digital archives; Electronic system; Email; Metadata; Records; Web site; also refer to RIM Policy 101: Government Records (PDF) and relevant RIM Guides

Digitize: To convert an image or signal into a form easily understood by digital computers. For example, visual images are digitized by scanning, a process which assigns a ‘binary’ code for each visual element sampled. Sounds are digitized by periodically measuring or sampling the sound wave, and assigning representative binary codes.

See also Conversion; Digital records; Imaging

Dispose: "To transfer by any method and includes assign, give, sell, grant, charge, convey, bequeath, devise, lease, divest, release and agree to do any of those things" as defined in the Interpretation Act (RSBC 1996, c. 238, s. 29).

See also Final disposition

Disposition: See Final disposition

Document: Information consigned to a medium.

See also Original record; Records

Document Disposal Act (RSBC 1996, c. 99): The provincial legislation that grants power to dispose of records upon the written recommendation of the Public Documents Committee and the approval of the Executive Council or Legislative Assembly.

The Act governs the final disposition of the records of all offices in or under the ministries, branches and institutions of the Executive Government of the Province. It provides for the establishment and approval of records schedules that describe classes and series of records and their retention and final disposition requirements.

See also Final disposition; Records schedule

Documentation: In archival usage, the creation or acquisition of documents to provide evidence of the creator, an event, or an activity; and to describe the arrangement of records and the rationale for their acquisition.

In computer hardware and software product development, the information that describes the product to its users. It consists of technical manuals and online information, including online versions of technical manuals and help facility descriptions. The term also covers source information about a product contained in design documents, detailed code comments, white papers, and blackboard session notes.

See also Document; Information technology; Metadata; Source document


Email (Electronic mail): Correspondence in electronic form, exchanged using a public or private computer network. An email record consists of a message, contextual information provided in a standard format (e.g., sender and receiver addresses, date), and may be accompanied by an attached electronic document in text or non-text form (e.g., graphic images and sound files).

See also Correspondence; Digital records

Electronic Data Processing (EDP): The manipulation and storage of numeric and alphabetic data by computers to produce information.

See also Data; Electronic records; Electronic system; Information technology

Electronic forms: Forms in electronic format that can be printed off and completed or completed on-screen and transmitted or submitted electronically.

See also Forms; Forms management; Web site

Electronic records: See Digital records

Electronic system: A computer-based system that takes one of a variety of forms, such as database, imaging system, geographical information system, or website.

See also Digital records; Information system

Encryption: The process of transforming information or data using an algorithm to make it unreadable, as a means of protecting data in transit. The result of the process is encrypted information, which can only be unscrambled (decrypted) by authorized users possessing the necessary “key” or algorithm to decode it. It is used by the B.C. government for the secure transportation and transmission of data outside of the workplace, in accordance with the Information Security Policy (c. 5.2.5).

See also Data

Enduring value: Records of enduring value provide the best evidence of the activities and responsibilities of the B.C. government (its accountability and the evolution of its powers, organizational structure, programs, policies, procedures, decisions and functions), and/or have significant historical, cultural, intrinsic or informational value. The government archives retains records appraised by a government archivist as having enduring value.

See also Archival appraisal; Archives; Evidential value; Function; Primary value

Enterprise Document and Records Management System (EDRMS): An integrated software system capable of managing both electronic and physical records. In June 2003 the Government of British Columbia selected HP TRIM TM (Total Records and Information Management) as the standard EDRMS software for office recordkeeping systems across government. It is used to manage government records throughout their life cycle in accordance with ARCS, ORCS, and other approved records schedules.

See also ARCS; Information management; Life cycle; ORCS; Recordkeeping system

Essential records: See Vital records

Evidential value: The usefulness or significance of records for providing evidence about the origins, functions, and activities of their creator, and their value in providing authentic and reliable evidence of the creator’s decisions, actions, transactions, and communications. Evidential value is provided by both the records content and their context with respect to other records and the functions to which the records relate. Archival appraisal work in the B.C. government is focussed on identifying and preserving records with high evidential value.

See also Archival Appraisal; Authenticity; Enduring value; Function; Informational value; Records; Reliability; Secondary value

Executive records: The administrative and operational records of the offices of ministers, deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers, and equivalent positions.

Executive records include the records of cabinet ministers that are created and/or accumulated and used by a minister (or a minister’s office) in developing, implementing and/or administering programs of government. They do not include Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) records or personal records.

Executive Records are covered by the government-wide special schedule 102906.

See also Administrative records; Legislative records; Member of the Legislative Assembly records; Non-government records; Operational records; Personal records


File: A set of related documents treated as a unit, uniquely identified, arranged in a logical sequence, and classified and scheduled together. The file is the logical entity used to organize and manage records. It identifies a group of records that together provide evidence of a transaction, case, subject or other business matter. A file may consist of one or more volumes.

See also Case file; Classification; Volume

File operations: The maintenance and update activities necessary for effective use of a records classification system. Basic file operation functions are: mail management, sorting, registration, classification, indexing and cross-reference, location control, filing, charge-out, distribution, recall and search, refiling, physical maintenance, purging, and retention and final disposition.

See also Classification system; File

File list: A list used to describe, locate and retrieve files. Unless otherwise stated in government policy, file lists are required for the storage and final disposition of government records and must include the following information for each file: classification number, file code or ID, file title, date range, Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR) designation, retention period and final disposition.

See also Codes; File; Office of Primary Responsibility; Records inventory

Final disposition: The action taken after records become inactive under an approved records schedule. Final disposition can be:

  • secure destruction that ensures complete obliteration of information, regardless of the records medium or format;
  • transfer of the records to the custody of the government archives; or
  • transfer of the records to agencies not covered by the Document Disposal Act (also known as alienation).

Final disposition must take place in accordance with RIM policy and authorized procedures.

See also Alienation of records; Archival appraisal; Archives; Destruction; Dispose; Document; Document Disposal Act; Inactive records; Records Officer

Finding aid: The descriptive tool (e.g., classification system, inventory, index, register, catalogue, file list) used to establish physical and/or intellectual control over records.

See also Active records; Classification system; File list; Inactive records; Semi-active records; Records inventory

Fiscal value: The value records may have in documenting the fiscal activities of the B.C. government relating to taxation, public revenues, public debt, budget operations, or other financial operations. Fiscal values may be affected by federal or provincial statutes and regulations that govern records retention and disposition.

See also Audit value; Primary value

Forms: Any documents that are printed or otherwise produced, with a fixed arrangement of captioned space(s) designed for entering, transferring and extracting prescribed information and data.

See also Document; Electronic forms; Forms management

Forms management: The centralized establishment of standards and their application combined with management techniques for the creation, analysis, design and revision of all official forms. Forms management assures better quality forms through controls on their design and production, greater efficiency in gathering and processing of information, and the economical and efficient distribution of forms.

See also Forms

Full retention: The archival appraisal decision by a government archivist to preserve a set of records (in most cases, the records covered by a secondary) in its entirety and in an accessible format. Retention decisions are documented in the records schedule. Under the terms of full retention, the archivist responsible may destroy unnecessary duplicates, publications, ephemera, and other items that are not an integral part of the record series.

See also Archival appraisal; Final disposition; Records; Records schedule; Secondary; Selective retention

Function: All of the activities, operations, or procedures performed by an organization or individual aimed to accomplish one purpose, mandate, or mission. In the B.C. government, functions represent the major responsibilities that are managed by a program area, branch, or agency in order to fulfil its goals.

See also Functional analysis; Record series

Functional analysis: The analysis and categorization of business activities into a hierarchical structure of functions, activities and transactions. It is used in the B.C. government in the process of classification and schedule development, and archival appraisal.

See also Archival Appraisal; Classification; Function; Integrated records classification and scheduling system; Records schedule

Functionality: The capabilities, behaviours, and applications of electronic hardware or software (i.e., programs, platforms, systems, or devices), seen as the sum of the features they are designed or expected to fulfil when operating properly.

See also Electronic system; Information technology


Government archives: The records and information transferred from government bodies to the archives of government. Currently, this includes only the physical archival records held by the Royal British Columbia Museum. When the Information Management Act (IMA) comes into force, this will also encompass the digital archives of government, for which the chief records officer will be responsible.

See also Archives; Digital archives; Government records

Government records: Any recorded information created or received by government offices in the course of business activity and maintained as evidence of those activities, regardless of format (i.e. digital or physical).

Government records include cabinet ministers' records that are created and/or accumulated and used by a minister (or a minister's office) in developing, implementing and/or administering programs of government. 

Government records do not include legislative records.

For guidance on identifying government records see RIM Policy 101: Government Records (PDF).

See also Digital records; Executive records; Legislative records; Member of the Legislative Assembly records; Non-government records; Official file copy; Personal records; Physical format; Records; Records schedule; Transitory records


Hazardous records / materials: Records and other materials that present a risk to health or the environment. This includes records and other materials that are explosive, gaseous, flammable, toxic, radioactive, corrosive, combustive, or leachable.

Hazardous records will not be accepted for offsite storage as they may endanger employees, facilities, and other records. See RIM Policy 423: Provision of Offsite Records Storage Services (PDF), section 2.2.


Imaging: The process of capturing, processing, and managing documents by reproducing their appearance through photography, micrographics, or scanning to create copies or “images” of records. Document imaging reproduces the visual presentation or ‘look’ of the originals when copying and storing them to another media (e.g., paper to microfilm, photograph to digital image). Imaging, by itself, makes no attempt to make any text in the document machine-readable, although a system may use optical character recognition (OCR) to convert imaged text to such form.

See also Conversion; Digitize; Document; Microform; Micrographics; Original record; Quality control

Inactive records: Records that are no longer required for ongoing ministry or agency business. These are records that are ready for final disposition; in other words, records for which the scheduled active and semi-active retention periods have lapsed.

See also Life cycle; Final disposition

Independent Offices of the Legislature: Records of independent offices of the Legislature (also known as the offices of the BC Statutory Officers) are not scheduled as government records because they are not covered by the Document Disposal Act

These offices currently include the following: the Auditor General, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Merit Commissioner, the Ombudsperson, the Police Complaint Commissioner, and the Representative for Children and Youth. 

Information: See Records

Information management: The systematic control of information from creation to storage and retrieval to dissemination, regardless of media or physical format.

See also Data; Information resource management; Information technology; Life cycle; Records management

Information resource management: The management of data and information as an asset, for the purpose of making information use effective. Records management, data administration and database administration are key components of information resource management.

See also Data; Data administration; Database; Information management; Records management

Information system: A system (involving people, machines, methods of organization, and procedures) that provides input, storage, processing, communications, output, and control functions in relation to information and data. This term is normally used to describe electronic systems, including data processing facilities, database administration, hardware, and software that contain electronic records.

See also Data; Digital records; Electronic system

Information Technology (IT): The infrastructure, including hardware, software, and networks, necessary to support and facilitate the information resource management process, electronic information systems and telecommunications systems. IT encompasses all forms of technology used to create, store, exchange, and use information in its various forms.

See also Electronic system; Electronic data processing; Functionality

Informational value: The usefulness or significance of materials based on their content (i.e., the information they contain), independent of any intrinsic or evidential value (i.e., the way they reflect the origins, functions and activities of their creator). In the context of the B.C. government, records may be appraised for retention by the government archives if the information they contain has significant historical, cultural, or other research value worthy of preservation.

See also Archival Appraisal; Evidential value; Secondary value

Integrated records classification and scheduling system: A system that integrates records classification with retention and disposition schedules, such as Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS).

See also Block numeric system; Classification system; Records schedule

Integrity: The quality of being whole and unaltered through loss, tampering, or corruption. In the context of records, integrity relates to the potential loss of physical or intellectual elements after a record has been created. As one of the components used to determine a record’s authenticity, integrity is a relative concept that assesses whether the essential nature of a record has changed.

See also Accuracy; Authenticity; Completeness; Reliability; Trustworthiness

Inventory: See Records inventory




Legal custody: The legal responsibility for the ongoing maintenance, security, accessibility and disposition of the records, and associated costs. Typically, the business owner or ‘legal custodian’ is the ministry or agency responsible for the programs and functions the records relate to. For information about transfer of legal custody, including transfer to the government archives, see RIM Section 5.

See also Current legal custodian; Physical custody

Legal value: The value records may have in meeting legal requirements or uses. Legal value is determined by identifying any requirements for records to be retained for specific periods of time in the enabling legislation for the records creator or other relevant legislation, such as the Limitations Act (RSBC 1996, c. 266).

Legal values may also be present in records that: document a transaction such as a deed or mortgage; serve a licensing or regulatory function; protect the rights of individual citizens or the Province of British Columbia; are required for evidence in a court of law or to meet the statute of limitations for civil litigation.

See also Primary value

Legislative records: Records created, accumulated and used by an individual or an office in the administration or operation of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. They include records created by the Office of the Speaker, the Officers of the House (the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Legislative Clerk), Hansard Services, and the Legislative Library. Legislative records are distinct from government records and are not governed by the Document Disposal Act.

See also Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) records

Life cycle: The life span of a record from its creation or receipt to its final disposition.

Retention periods in records retention and disposition schedules are closely associated with certain life cycle stages. The active period involves creation/receipt, classification, scheduling, maintenance and use; the semi-active period involves the continuing maintenance, use and storage; and the inactive period indicates the expiry of primary values and the disposition of the records by destruction or transfer to the archives, where they will be described, preserved, and made accessible.

See also Active records; Classification system; Inactive records; Records schedule; Retention period; Semi-active records


Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) records: Records created and/or accumulated and used by a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (MLA) acting in that capacity. They include records that document legislative and political activities, but do not include personal, business, or constituency records.

MLA records are legislative records not covered by the Document Disposal Act. However, MLAs who are cabinet ministers do create government records when serving in that capacity; those records are termed “ministerial records” and are covered by the Document Disposal Act.

See also Legislative records; Ministerial records; Cabinet committees

Metadata: Literally "data about data", metadata documents the context, content, and structure of data and records Metadata supports the effective management of the government's information holdings. The term covers a range of structured tools such as: records profiles maintained electronically (e.g., the data in word processing 'properties' fields); online or hardcopy manuals, thesauri, indexes, and library catalogues.

See also Data; Documentation; Electronic system

Microfiche: A microform in the shape of a rectangular sheet of transparent plastic having one or more miniaturized images usually arranged in a grid pattern, with a heading area across the top. Normal size is 148 x 105mm (6 x 4 inches).

See also Imaging; Microform


  1. A fine-grain, high-resolution film used in micrographics containing an image greatly reduced in size from the source document;
  2. The recording of microphotographs on film; or raw film with characteristics as indicated above.

See also Imaging; Microform

Microform: A generic term covering any form, either film or paper, that contains images greatly reduced in size. Microform may be produced through a photographic process or generated from a computer (computer output microform, also known as COMfiche/COMfilm).

See also Computer Output Microform; Imaging; Microfiche; Microfilm; Micrographics

Micrographics: Techniques associated with the production, handling and use of microforms.

See also Imaging; Microform; Quality control

Migration: To preserve the integrity of electronic records/data by transferring them across hardware and software configurations and across subsequent generations of computer technology. Migration is used to ensure continued access to information as systems or media become obsolete or degrade over time.

See also Conversion

Ministerial office: “Any office in or under the ministries, branches and institutions of the Executive Government of the Province, other than a record office" as defined in the Document Disposal Act.

See also Record office

Ministerial records: Government records created by members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) serving as cabinet ministers, received or created as part of daily ministry business activities. These are distinct from MLA records. They are covered by the Executive Records Schedule.

See also Cabinet committees; Executive records; Ministerial recordsMLA records

Ministry Records Officer (MRO): See Records officer

MLA records: See Member of the Legislative Assembly records


Non-government records: Recorded information not created or received by government offices as part of government business.

For guidance on identifying non-government records, see RIM Policy 101: Government Records (PDF).

See also Document Disposal Act; Executive records; Final disposition; Government records; Legislative records; Member of the Legislative Assembly records; Personal records

Non-Office Of Primary Responsibility (non-OPR): Any office or branch that is not the main custodian of the master record or record copy of a document or information for its ministry or agency.

See also Office of Primary Responsibility

Non-OPR: See Non-Office Of Primary Responsibility

Non-transitory record: See Official file copy


Office Of Primary Responsibility (OPR): The office that has primary responsibility for a category of records or holds the master/official file copy of any record series for that ministry or agency. The OPR maintains the official master copy of the records in order to satisfy operational, financial, legal, audit and other requirements.

See also Audit value; Fiscal value; Legal value; Official file copy; Non-office of Primary Responsibility; Record series

Official file copy: A complete, final, and authorized version of a record. An official file copy is the version that is classified and filed in the office recordkeeping system.

See also Classification; Office of Primary Responsibility; Original record; Recordkeeping system

One-time accession number: An accession number that is used by an office for a single transfer of records to a government approved records storage facility.

See also Accession number; Ongoing accession number

One-time records schedule: A records schedule that authorizes the retention and final disposition of a specific set of records, and does not provide authority for ongoing final disposition of records of the same type.

See also Final disposition; Records schedule

Ongoing accession number (OAN): An accession number that is used by an office for the regular or continuing transfer of records to government-approved records storage facilities. An ongoing accession number differs from a one-time accession number in that it can be used for multiple transfers. OANs are used to regularly transfer high volume records series, usually related to a single secondary classification number.

See also Accession number; Secondary; Record series

Ongoing records schedule: A records schedule that authorizes the retention and final disposition, on a continuing basis, of the types of records described in the schedule. Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS) serve as ongoing records schedules for ministry or agency administrative records and operational records. Special schedules are another type of ongoing records schedules.

See also Administrative records; Final disposition; Integrated records classification and scheduling system; Operational records; Records schedule; Special schedule

Operational records: Records that relate to the operations and services provided by a ministry or agency in carrying out the functions for which it is responsible according to statute, mandate, or policy. Operational records are distinct from administrative records and are unique to each government organization.

See also Administrative records; Function; Operational Records Classification System

Operational Records Classification System (ORCS): An integrated records classification and scheduling system tailored to the operational records of a specific function or program of government, in accordance with government-wide standards. ORCS facilitate classification, filing, retrieval and disposition; ORCS may also be used to identify vital records and freedom of information and privacy designations. ORCS is a block numeric records classification system, reflecting function and subject. Government Records Service establishes standards for the development of ORCS that are published in the Standard ORCS Kit.

See also Administrative Records Classification System; Block numeric system; Classification; Function; Integrated records classification and scheduling system; Operational records; Vital records

OPR: See Office of Primary Responsibility

ORCS: See Operational Records Classification System

Original record: A complete and finished document that is able to produce the consequences intended by its author. It is the first to be issued in that form. In law, it means the first copy from which all others are transcribed, copied or initiated.

See also Conversion; Document; Imaging; Legal value; Official file copy


Permanent removal: Permanent removal occurs when an office retrieves records from offsite storage and notifies Government Records Service that this is a permanent arrangement; i.e., they will not be returned to storage as part of that accession. Sometimes referred to as “deaccessioning” or “reactivation”.

Personal information: As defined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (RSBC 1996, c. 165). Personal information is recorded information about an identifiable individual other than contact information.

See also Personal information bank; Personal records

Personal Information Bank (PIB): As defined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act a PIB is a collection of personal information that is organized or retrievable by the name of an individual or by an identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to an individual. PIBs are flagged in Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS).

See also Personal information; Public use records

Personal records: Records created and/or accumulated and used by an individual or family for personal and/or private purposes.

Personal records are a type of non-government record. The retention and final disposition of personal records is not governed by the Document Disposal Act.

See also Government records; Legislative records; Member of the Legislative Assembly records; Non-government records; Personal information; Records

Physical custody: The responsibility for the care, preservation and security of a set of records in their physical location, in accordance with predetermined rules and regulations.

See also Current legal custodian; Legal custody

Physical format: The type of medium on which a specific version of a record is stored (e.g., paper, microfiche, or magnetic tape, CD ROM, DVD).

See also Conversion; Microfiche; Records schedule; Special media

Preservation: Preservation consists of all the measures taken to extend the life expectancy of records possessing long-term legal, administrative, or cultural value.

See also Archives; Conservation; Legal value

Primary: The basic building block of Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS). A primary relates to a function or subject. It consists of a 5-digit number and a descriptive title under which specific records may be classified and arranged.

See also Block numeric system; Classification; Function; Secondary

Primary block: A set of primaries covering related functions that form a logical group and are assigned sequential numbers. Each block contains a general primary and two or more primaries covering functions or activities subordinate to the major function of the block.

See also Block numeric system; Function; Primary

Primary value: Values that records have for assisting their creating office to carry out its operational mandate and administrative duties. Records with primary value are those that are necessary for administrative, operational, fiscal, audit, or legal purposes, that is, the purposes associated with the active and semi-active phases of the records schedule. Special categories of primary value include audit value, fiscal value, and legal value.

See also Active records; Audit value; Enduring value; Fiscal value; Legal value; Secondary value; Semi-active records; Vital records

Prior legal custodian (PLC): Office previously responsible for the records. Government Records Service maintains PLC historical data in the Archives and Records Information System (ARIS) database.

See also Creating agency; Current legal custodian; Physical custody; Transferring agency

Private records: See Non-government records; Personal records


  • The office of origin (i.e., the office or administrative entity that created or received and accumulated the records in the conduct of its business);
  • Information on successive transfers of ownership and custody of a particular record; and
  • In archival theory, the principle that the archival records of a given records creator must not be intermingled with those of other records creators.

See also Creating agency; Current legal custodian; Office of Primary Responsibility; Records

Public records: See Government records

Public Use Records (PUR): Records that are specifically created and organized with the expectation of access by the public, often with user fees. PURs are flagged in Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS).

See also Personal information bank


Quality assurance: The process of verifying that quality control steps have been taken.

See also Quality control

Quality control: Procedural steps that ensure that scanned, imaged, converted, or migrated records, systems, and applications yield the same data and functionality as the source record from which they are reproduced. Quality control aims to establish the authenticity, accuracy, and usability of official file copies.

See also Accuracy; Authenticity; Conversion; Imaging; Migration; Official file copy; Usability


Reactivation: See Permanent Removal

Record office: "Any office of a court in which documents are deposited" as defined in the Document Disposal Act.

See also Ministerial office

Record series: A group of records filed together in a unified arrangement that results from, or relates to, the same function or activity and permits evaluation as a unit for records scheduling purposes. A record series is classified based upon retrieval needs and maintained as a unit according to reference frequency. An Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) or Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS) secondary is in most cases equivalent to a record series.

See also Classification; Function; Records; Records schedule; Secondary

Recorded Information: See Records

Recordkeeping system:

  1. An information system that captures, manages and provides access to records through time.
  2. A set of rules governing the storage, use, maintenance and disposition of records and/or information about records, and the tools and mechanisms used to implement these rules.

In the B.C. government, an office recordkeeping system is a shared ARCS/ORCS based filing system in which non-transitory records are created, protected, retained and destroyed in accordance with legal retention schedules.

See also Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS); Information System; Operational Records Classification System (ORCS); Records management; Records schedule; Transitory records

Records: Any recorded information. Includes "books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers, papers and any other thing on which information is recorded or stored by any means whether graphic, electronic, mechanical or otherwise" as defined in the Interpretation Act.

See also Data; Digital records; Government records, Metadata; Operational records, Non-government records; Records management; Records schedule; Reliable record

Records classification system: See Classification system

Records disposition: See Final disposition

Records inventory: An analytical list of the records or part of the records of a unit of government. An inventory is usually organized by record type and provides the basis for establishing a records schedule. It fully describes the title, purpose and function, informational content, physical format, physical extent, and date range of the records, legal and fiscal retention requirements for the records, and other factors that may have a bearing on the retention periods and final disposition.

See also Audit value; Final disposition; Fiscal value; Function; Legal value; Physical format; Primary value; Records schedule

Records management: Records management is the exercise of physical and intellectual control over records to ensure their integrity in support of an organization’s accountabilities and actions. Ministries and agencies establish physical control by ensuring records are identified, documented, located, retrieved, and protected from loss, physical damage or inappropriate access. Ministries and agencies establish intellectual control over their records by ensuring they are classified, retained and disposed of in accordance with records schedules. Government Records Service is the central agency responsible for setting records management policy, procedures and standards.

See also Classification; Information management; Records; Recordkeeping system; Records officer; Records schedule

Records Officer: The employee responsible for providing information management (IM) direction and support to a ministry or agency, enabling it to meet IM business objectives and legislated requirements. Ministry Records Officer services are provided by Government Records Service, the central agency responsible for records management. Agencies and Crown Corporations outside core government provide their own Records Officer and support staff.

Records retention and disposition schedule: See Records schedule

Records schedule: A prescribed timetable that governs the life cycle of a file from creation, through active use within an office, retention in off-site storage during its semi-active period, to final disposition when it becomes inactive.

See also Active records; Final disposition; Life cycle; One-time records schedule; Ongoing records schedule; Original records; Retention period; Schedule authority number; Semi-active records

Records services application number: The unique number that identifies each application for records services submitted to Government Records Service. The number appears in the top right-hand corner of the application form. If the application is for an Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS) or one-time records schedule, the application number will become the schedule authority number.

See also Records schedule

Records values: See Enduring value; Primary value

Redundant source records: Records that have been copied or converted, where the copies, once verified to ensure their accuracy and authenticity, replace or supersede the originals and are filed in the office recordkeeping system.

See also Accuracy; Authenticity; Conversion; Original record; Recordkeeping system; Quality assurance

Reliability: The trustworthiness of a record as a statement of fact; a record’s ability to serve as reliable evidence. Reliability is established by examining the completeness of the record's form and the amount of control exercised on the process of its creation.

See also Accuracy; Completeness; Evidential value; Integrity; Reliable record; Trustworthiness; Usability

Reliable record: A record whose contents can be trusted as a full and accurate representation of the transactions, activities or facts to which they attest and can be depended upon in the course of subsequent transactions or activities. To ensure reliability, records should be created at the time of the transaction or incident to which they relate, or soon afterwards, by individuals who have direct knowledge of the facts or by instruments (e.g., a digital recorder) routinely used within the business to conduct the transaction.

See also Accuracy, Records; Reliability, Trustworthiness; Usability

Reserved secondaries: Secondary numbers used to cover record series that are repeated in several primaries. Secondaries -00 and -01 are reserved throughout all Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS) for policy and procedures files and general files respectively.

See also Record series; Secondary

Residual values: See Enduring value

Retention period: The length of time a file is retained, as governed by the records schedule. The file may be disposed of after the active and semi-active retention periods that apply to it have elapsed.

See also Active records; Final disposition; Life cycle; Records schedule; Semi-active records

Retention schedule: See Records schedule


Schedule authority number: A unique 6-digit number linked to a records schedule. Used in conjunction with the accession number, the schedule authority number allows Government Records Service, ministries and agencies to manage the storage and final disposition of government records.

See also Accession number; Final disposition; Government records; Records schedule; Records services application number

Scope note: The component of a classification system that describes the functions, uses and content of the records that are to be classified together; in Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS), each primary has a scope note. A scope note describes the administrative or operational function to which the records relate and provides a general statement about the record types (memos, forms, reports, etc.) and media (photographs, video recordings, etc.) covered. A scope note may also contain information about related records classified elsewhere.

See also Classification system; Function

Secondary: A subdivision of a primary that, like the primary, consists of a number and a descriptive title. The 2-digit secondary number is combined with the 5-digit primary number and the records schedule number to form a unique classification number for a file series.

See also Block numeric system; Classification; Primary; Record series

Secondary value: The continuing usefulness or significance that inactive records possess, beyond the purposes for which they were originally created or the function they originally fulfilled. Secondary value includes informational and evidential value.

See also Enduring value, Evidential value, Function; Inactive records, Informational value, Primary value

Security classification: A category assigned to information (and records) according to a security system in order to clearly show the appropriate level of protection against access or disclosure (e.g., open, restricted, or confidential). Government policy requires ministries to provide reasonable security arrangements for their information holdings based on a range of security categories (see Core Policy and Procedures Manual).

See also Confidential record

Selective retention: The archival appraisal decision by a government archivist to preserve part of a set of records (in most cases, the records covered by a secondary). Explicit selective retention criteria are developed during archival appraisal, and documented in the records schedule. Explanatory notes within Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) and Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS) often include instructions requiring staff to box selected records separately from those to be destroyed, or to help identify records for selection.

See also Archival appraisal; Final disposition; Full retention; Records schedule

Semi-active records: Records that are used only occasionally and therefore need not be maintained in the office space and equipment of the ministry or agency responsible for them. Semi-active records still retain administrative, operational, fiscal, audit, or legal value for the ministry or agency that created the records. Storage of semi-active records in economical, off-site facilities (or their electronic equivalent) until all values have lapsed results in significant savings.

See also Active records; Inactive records; Life cycle; Records schedule

Source document: The original from which a copy is made.

See also Document; Original record; Redundant source record

Special media: Records in forms other than text on paper, including photographs, sound recordings, motion picture films, video recordings, audio-visual materials, paintings, prints, maps, plans, blueprints, architectural drawings, and other sound, film, video, photographic, or cartographic materials. All records relating to a function are classified in Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) or Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS) as appropriate, regardless of media.

See also Function; Physical format

Special schedules: Records schedules for special broad categories of records that may apply to all ministries and agencies. Special records schedules are used for routine, temporary and transitory records (or data) that serve no lasting purpose. They may also cover records that:

  1. Contain information stored and used in special media;
  2. Originate from a specific creator; or
  3. Document a unique and/or short-term event.

Other special records schedules exist to cover such things as executive records, email records, and voice mail records.

See also Email; Executive records; Special media; Special Schedules web page; Transitory records

Subject files: Files containing records that relate to specific subjects or functions and that are classified according to general informational content. The purpose of subject files is to bring together records on the same topic in order to facilitate information retrieval.

Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS) and Administrative Records Classification System (ARCS) usually classify subject files under secondary numbers between -02 and -19.

See also Case file; File


Transferring agency: The agency responsible for specific records at the time they are transferred to off-site storage. When this happens, an accession number is assigned to the records.

See also Accession number; Creating agency; Current legal custodian; Office of Primary Responsibility; Provenance

Transitory records: Records of temporary usefulness that are not integral to an administrative or operational record series. Transitory records are not regularly filed within a standard records classification system and are only needed for a limited period of time for completion of an action or preparation of a document. Transitory records are not required to meet statutory obligations or to sustain administrative or operational functions. Transitory records are covered by special schedules.

For further guidance see the Transitory Records Guide (PDF).

See also Official file copy; Record series; Special Schedules

Trustworthiness: The accuracy, reliability, and authenticity of a record. To ensure that electronic records are trustworthy, the system that contains them should be dependable and produce consistent results based on well-established procedures.

See also Accuracy, Authenticity; Electronic records; Electronic system; Reliability


Usability: The extent to which a record can be located, retrieved, presented, and interpreted. A usable record should be complete, accurate, reliable, and accessible. In any subsequent retrieval and use, the record should be capable of being directly connected to the business activity or transaction that produced it.

See also Accuracy; Accessibility; Completeness; Records; Reliability


Vital records: The records of government that contain information essential to:

  1. Conduct emergency operations during and immediately following a disaster;
  2. Resume/continue government services or operations;
  3. Re-establish the legal, financial and functional responsibilities of government; and
  4. Re-establish the rights and obligations of individuals, corporate bodies and other governments with respect to the Government of British Columbia.

A Ministry may document vital records in its Operational Records Classification Systems (ORCS) by adding a “VR” flag next to relevant secondaries.

See also Primary value; Records; Secondary

Volume: A component of a file. A volume contains records, and may exist in any media or format (e.g., file folder, electronic folder, microfilm roll, and map drawer). Volumes are also referred to as folders, enclosures, directories, supplements, file parts or sub-files.

See also File; Physical format


Web site: A web site is an electronic system composed of interrelated web pages used to provide information about and access to the programs and services of an organization, as well as to facilitate ongoing projects. A web site may be provided on the Internet (making information publicly available via the World Wide Web), on an intranet (a secure site where information is shared within an organization), or via an extranet (a secure site where certain information is shared with clients).

See also Electronic forms; Electronic records; Electronic system

Working materials: Rough notes, calculations, preliminary drafts, and research notes that are assembled or created in the preparation or analysis of other records, such as correspondence, reports, and statistical tabulations. When the final documents have been produced and classified, working materials generally become transitory records. Working materials relating to statutes, audits, or other records specified in a records schedule are not transitory records.