Records Management Glossary

This glossary provides definitions for records management terms used in the B.C. government and is part of the Records and Information Management (RIM) manual. Most recent update: April 12, 2021.



Accessibility: The characteristic of being easily reached, retrieved, or used by people regardless of abilities. In an information management context, accessibility refers to the availability and usability of recorded information. For information on the Province's commitments to building a better BC  for people with disabilities, please visit

See also Usability

Accession: A body of records registered as a unit (and given an accession number) for the purposes of administrative control. This includes physical identification and control of transfer, storage, retrieval, and disposition. Accessions typically cover records maintained in a records storage facility contracted by government.

See also Information schedule; Record

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 Record

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

See also Inactive records; Information schedule; Lifecycle; Primary value; 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; Information 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: The permanent transfer of records, and all rights to and ownership of the records, from a ministry or other government body covered by the Information Management Act to an agency not covered by the Act.

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

Appropriate recordkeeping system: As defined in the Chief Records Officer Guidelines on Documenting Government Decisions, an appropriate recordkeeping system should:

  • contain logical, organized naming conventions that can be followed by all staff;
  • ensure the preservation and accessibility of records over time;
  • protect against accidental or unauthorized access, alteration, copying, movement or deletion;
  • minimize duplicate storage of records; and
  • permit the retention requirements of information schedules to be applied accurately and efficiently.

See also Appropriate system; Recordkeeping system

Appropriate system: As defined in Chief Records Officer Directive CRO 01-2019, an appropriate system for documenting government decisions must include at least the following:

  1. recorded policies and procedures and defined roles and responsibilities for creating and maintaining, in a manner consistent with this directive and any applicable enactments and provincial government policies, adequate records of decisions that the head of the government body has determined, in accordance with this directive and any guidelines issued under section 6(1) of the Information Management Act, are to be recorded;
  2. appropriate recordkeeping systems that ensure the preservation and accessibility of records of decision over time;
  3. a program for ongoing training of relevant employees of the government body respecting the creation and maintenance of adequate records of decisions;
  4. a program for monitoring implementation by the government body of the system and of its compliance with applicable laws and government policies.

See also Appropriate recordkeeping system; Recordkeeping system

Archival appraisal: The process of evaluating recorded information (records) to determine its disposition. Government records are typically appraised by a government archivist under the direction of the Chief Records Officer. Those having permanent value to government and society are preserved and made accessible in the government archives. Archival appraisal in the BC Government is part of the process of developing an information schedule. It focusses on the information content of the records and the context of their creation and use over time. It takes into consideration the capacity of the records to be used as evidence of activity as well as information on facts, people, and topics of significance to BC society, as expressed in the criteria outlined in the CIRMO Policy for Archival Appraisal of Government Information.

See also Archival selection; Archives; Evidential value; Final disposition; Full retention; Permanent value; Preservation; Selective retention

Archival records: See Record

Archival selection: The process of selecting records designated with the final disposition of "selective retention" in an information schedule. The Chief Records Officer delegates this work to government archivists. Archivists carry out archival selection in accordance with criteria established in the relevant information schedule (if specified) and the CIRMO Policy for Archival Appraisal of Government Information.

See also Archival appraisal; Final disposition; Information schedule; Selective retention

Archival value: See Permanent 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; Record; Reliability; Trustworthiness

Authoritative copies: Authoritative copies are authentic, reliable, complete, and usable copies that provide evidence of government actions and decisions. As such, they can be retained in place of original source records in an appropriate system. Authoritative copies may be produced through physical or digital copying, imaging, migration, or conversion in accordance with an authorized process to ensure the resulting copy is authentic, reliable, and retrievable.

See also: Authenticity; Redundant source information; Reliability; Usability


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 201Executive Records; Government information; 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

Chief Records Officer (CRO): Appointed under the Information Management Act, the CRO is mandated to promote the preservation of valuable government information for current and future use, approve information schedules, manage the digital archives and promote its availability to the public, and promote effective information management by government bodies.

See also Digital archives; Government information; Information Management Act; Government Records Service; Information management; Information schedule

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.

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; Function; Information schedule; Integrated records classification and scheduling system; Primary; 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 information schedule, as appropriate.

See also, ARCS; ORCS; 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

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 taken to preserve materials in their original form. This includes actions taken to prevent damage and further deterioration. Conservation actions also include examination, documentation, research and advice.

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 information

Court information: Under the Information Management Act, this means recorded information held by a court that is filed in or about a court proceeding. Court information does not include judicial administration records or recorded information relating to matters of court administration. Court information schedules are approved by the Deputy Attorney General and the chief judge or justice of a court (unlike information schedules covering other government information and judicial administration records or other recorded information relating to matters of court administration, which are approved by the Chief Records Officer).

See also Chief Records Officer; Government information; Information Management Act; Information schedule

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

Critical information: The records and data essential to the operations of a government business area. This includes information that supports business continuity by documenting and supporting core programs, functions, responsibilities and commitments (e.g. security and risk mitigation information, records needed to meet financial and legal requirements). Critical information also includes information of public interest and permanent value.

See also Data; Information; Permanent value; Record; Vital records

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: The smallest meaningful units of recorded information generated by an organization, which gain significance when stored in a structured manner that enables them to be synthesized and interpreted.

See also Data administration; DatabaseDigital records; Encryption; Metadata; Record

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

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

Deaccessioning: See Permanent Removal

Destruction of records: Inactive government information can only be destroyed in accordance with information schedules approved under the Information Management Act. Destruction may be carried out using various methods, such as deleting, shredding, incineration, or pulping, but must always comply with relevant policy. Destruction is only complete when the information is obliterated and cannot be reconstituted.

See also Final disposition; Information 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; Metadata; Record

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 destroy, or render impracticable to decipher, recorded information, as defined in the Information Management Act.

See also Final disposition

Disposition: See Final disposition

Document: Information consigned to a medium.

See also Original record; Record

Document Disposal Act (RSBC 1996, c. 99) (DDA): Repealed in May 2016, this Act used to govern the scheduling and final disposition of government records, via an approval process that involved the Public Documents Committee (now disbanded), the Public Accounts Committee, and the Legislative Assembly. The schedule approval process is now governed by the Information Management Act, which came into effect in May 2016. Under the new Act, approval is granted by the Chief Records Officer. Records schedules approved under the DDA are considered to be information schedules under the IMA, and continue to be valid.

See also Final disposition; Information Management Act; Information schedule


Electronic records: See Digital records

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: See Permanent 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 lifecycle in accordance with ARCS, ORCS, and other approved information schedules.

See also ARCS; Information management; Lifecycle; 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 focused on identifying and preserving records with high evidential value.

See also Archival Appraisal; Authenticity; Function; Informational valuePermanent value; Record; 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 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 information 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 Information Management Act (also known as alienation).

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

See also Alienation; 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; 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 information 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; Information schedule; Record; 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 fulfill 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; Information schedule; Integrated records classification and scheduling system

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 fulfill when operating properly.

See also 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 information

Government body: As defined in the Information Management Act, government body means a ministry of the government of British Columbia, or a government agency designated as a government body by regulation, but does not include a person who is a member or officer of the Legislative Assembly, in the exercise of his or her functions as a member or officer of the Legislative Assembly, or a court.

Government information: As defined in the Information Management Act, government information means recorded information created or received by a government body in connection with government business, including: information that must be held by the government body by law; information that documents a decision by a government body respecting a course of action that directly affects a person or the operations of the government body; information that documents or supports the government body's organization, policies, procedures, transactions or operations; information created or received by a government body that has archival value; and information relating to matters of court administration assigned to the Attorney General or government by law. Government information does not include: constituency information held in the office of a minister; court information; or information stored in or recorded on a judicial administration record.

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

Government records:  See Government information

Government Records Service (GRS): Delegated by the Chief Records Officer, this is the central government agency responsible for appraising and scheduling government information; providing records management policy and practice advice, guidance and training; implementing and supporting BC Government's EDRMS; and managing offsite storage of government's physical records.

See also Archival appraisal; Chief Records Officer; Digital archives; EDRMS; Information management; Information schedule


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 Lifecycle; 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 Information Management 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: Any collection of data that is processed, analyzed, interpreted, classified, recorded or communicated in order to serve a useful purpose, present fact or represent knowledge in any medium or form. Information includes both data and records.

See also Data; Record

Information management: The means by which an organization plans, collects, organizes, governs, protects, uses, controls, disseminates, exchanges, maintains and disposes of its information; as well as any means through which the organization ensures its information's value is identified and that the information is used to its fullest extent, including the facilitation of efficient discoverability of information.

See also Data; Information technology; Lifecycle; Records management

Information Management Act (SBC 2015, c.27) (IMA): This statute governs the management of provincial government information in British Columbia. Proclaimed May 28, 2016, this statute supersedes the Document Disposal Act. Key provisions of the Act are:

  • establishes the authority of the Chief Records Officer (CRO);
  • establishes the digital archives of government;
  • defines government information;
  • identifies government bodies that hold government information, and establishes their responsibilities;
  • requires government bodies to manage their records in accordance with information schedules approved by the CRO; and
  • distinguishes court information and court information schedules from other government information and schedules.

See also Chief Records Officer; Court information; Digital archives; Document Disposal Act; Government information; Information schedule

Information schedule: Approved by the CRO under the IMA, an information schedule provides a timetable that governs the lifecycle of government information. Information schedules specify how records are managed to ensure that government information is kept for as long as required and authorize the holding, transfer and disposal of records.

See also Chief Records Officer; Government information; Information Management Act; Lifecycle

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

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 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; Information 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 Information Management Act.

See also Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) records

Lifecycle: The lifespan of information from its creation or receipt and use, through to its final disposition: destruction, transfer to the government archives or alienation.

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


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

MLA records are legislative records not covered by the Information Management 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 Information Management Act.

See also Legislative records; Ministerial records; Cabinet committees

Metadata: Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. Metadata is structured information about the characteristics of an information resource that helps identify and manage that information resource.

See also Data

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 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 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. The Information Management Act specifically excludes the following from its definition of government information: constituency information held in the office of a minister, court information, judicial administration records.

See also Document Disposal Act; Executive records; Final disposition; Government information; 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


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: An information 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; Information 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: An information 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; Information schedule; Integrated records classification and scheduling system; Operational records; 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”.

Permanent value: Records of permanent value provide the best evidence of the activities and responsibilities of the BC 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 permanent value.

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 Information Management Act.

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

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; Special media

Preservation: The principles, policies, rules, strategies and activities aimed at prolonging the existence of an object by maintaining it in a condition suitable for use, either in its original format or in a more persistent format, while leaving intact the object's intellectual form.

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 information schedule. Special categories of primary value include audit value, fiscal value, and legal value.

See also Active records; Audit value; Fiscal value; Legal value; Permanent 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


  • 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; Record

Public records: See Government information

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: Recorded information created, received and maintained by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. This includes records formats defined in the Interpretation Act and FOIPPA.

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

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; Information schedule; Record; Secondary

Recorded Information: See Record

Recordkeeping system: A shared filing system in which records are captured, protected, retained and destroyed in accordance with approved information schedules. A recordkeeping system, when used in conjunction with recorded policies and procedures, defined roles and responsibilities, and ongoing training, constitutes an appropriate system for managing government information

See also Appropriate recordkeeping system

Records: See 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 an information 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; Information schedule; Legal value; Physical format; Primary value

Records management: "The field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records." (Source: ISO 15489, cited in International Council on Archives,

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

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 Information schedule

Records schedule: See Information schedule

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 Information schedule

Records values: See Permanent value; Primary value; Secondary value

Redundant source information: Redundant source information (RSI) is government information that has been replaced and rendered redundant by authoritative copies, once those copies have been verified to ensure their accuracy and authenticity.

See also Accuracy; Authenticity; Authoritative copies; 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, Record; 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 Permanent value

Retention period: The length of time a file is retained, as governed by the information 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; Information schedule; Lifecycle; Semi-active records

Retention schedule: See Information schedule


Schedule authority number: A unique 6-digit number linked to an information 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 information; Information 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 information 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 Evidential value; Function; Inactive records; Informational value; Permanent 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 information 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; Archival selection; Final disposition; Full retention; Information 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; Information schedule; Lifecycle

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

See also Document; Original record; Redundant source information

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: Schedules for special broad categories of records that may apply to all ministries and agencies. Existing special schedules cover records that originate from a specific creator or type of creator, serve no lasting purpose, have special media formats, or document unique or short-term events. See

See also Executive records; Special media; Transitory information

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 information: Transitory information is information of temporary usefulness that is needed only to complete a routine action or prepare a subsequent record (e.g. a new version). A record's content and context determine whether it is transitory, not its form or format. Information that is essential for understanding government business is not transitory.

See also Special schedules

Transitory records: See Transitory information

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; 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; Record; 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.

See also Primary value; Record; 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


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 information. Working materials relating to statutes, audits, or other records specified in an information schedule are not transitory information.

See also Transitory information