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Diocesan Records Management
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Sacramental Records Handbook, Second Edition
School Records Management

Records Management Policies


The Diocese of Charleston, hereafter referred to as the “diocese,” acknowledges Canons 482 and 486, assigning the chancellor as the custodian of diocesan records and noting the need for proper records management and care. It is the general policy of the diocese to identify, properly arrange, maintain, and safeguard records required to conduct its spiritual and temporal affairs.

The objectives of these general records management policies are:

  • To establish guidelines with respect to the maintenance, use, retention, disposition, and preservation of appropriate diocesan documents and records, and to assign responsibilities for administering the function within the organization.
  • To ensure the retention of records for the appropriate period of time based on intrinsic and enduring historic value or legislated by the Code of Canon Law, federal and state statutes and regulations (e.g., United States Code, Code of Federal Regulation, South Carolina Code of Laws, South Carolina Code of Regulations, etc.), or administrative standards and practices (e.g., United States Generally Acceptable Accounting Principles, Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles, etc.)
  • To ensure that records that outlive their respective retention periods are destroyed to reduce storage and supply costs, increase administrative efficiency, and to lessen exposure to criminal or civil liability.
  • These policies apply to all administrative agencies and advisory boards of the diocese, a collective commonly referred to as the chancery. These policies do not apply to parishes or schools of the diocese.


The following definitions are specific to, and limited to, these policies and any subsequent procedures:

  • Active records are the recorded information, regardless of format, necessary to conduct the current, day-to-day business of the diocese; usually maintained in office space and equipment.
  • Agency is a specific department or departmentalized unit of the diocese or a subdivision thereof, excluding parishes and schools.
  • Agency head is the highest authority within a specific agency. In the case of advisory bodies, the chair or moderator of that body serves as the agency head.
  • Inactive records are the recorded information that must be retained for legal, fiscal, historic, or administrative purposes but are so rarely used as to no longer justify their maintenance in active office space and equipment.
  • Records are defined as all recorded information, regardless of media or characteristics, made or received and maintained by an agent or agency in pursuance of legal obligation or in the transaction of business of the diocese. Examples may include, but are not limited to, correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, notes, photographic materials, architectural drawings, marketing materials, artwork, tape recordings, computer tapes and disks, etc. The essential qualifying characteristics relate to evidence and information, not physical form or format or location.
  • Record series are the recorded information arranged in accordance with a filing system or maintained as a unit because they relate to a particular subject or function, result from the same activity, have a particular form, or because of some other relationship arising from their creation, receipt, or use.


Regardless of format, all records created or received by individuals associated with the diocese or one of its affiliates or advisory organizations in the course of official business are the property of the diocese. No such records shall be removed, destroyed, transferred, stored, or otherwise disposed except in compliance with these policies.

  • When both private matters and business matters appear in the same document, that document is defined as a diocesan record. Materials labeled “personal,” “confidential,” “private,” or similarly designated and used in the transaction of diocesan business or activities are diocesan records.
    By virtue of their appointments, each agency head is responsible for the effective and efficient management of the active and inactive records of his or her agency.
  • Agency heads shall, to the best of their knowledge, ensure that each item in their records is authentic (i.e., that the document is genuinely what it purports to be), reliable (i.e., that the document provides a full and accurate representation of the facts), and trustworthy (i.e., the document is complete and unaltered except by those authorized to do so).
  • Agency heads shall ensure all record series held by their agency are surveyed and inventoried by the archivist for inclusion in published records retention schedules.
  • Agency heads shall comply with published records retention schedules.
  • A Records Retention Committee, chaired by the chancellor, shall compose and publish records retention schedules defining the length of retention and final disposition of diocesan record series. At minimum the committee must include the following individuals or their designates: the chancellor, the judicial vicar, the chief financial officer, diocesan legal counsel, and the archivist. The bishop of Charleston and his vicar general are ex officio members of the committee.
  • The archivist shall inventory all record series within diocesan agencies.
  • The Records Retention Committee shall review the compiled inventory and, with consideration of the input from respective agency heads, mandate the minimum retention of record series based on legal, fiscal, administrative, and historic values of the records and in compliance with canonical, federal, and state statutes and regulation.
    5. The archivist is to carry out the efficient collection and administration of noncurrent records of permanent value to the diocese in accordance with published records retention schedules.
    To ensure the identification and preservation of records of permanent value, the archivist shall coordinate the development and implementation of records retention schedules for all diocesan agencies.
    Records transferred to diocesan archives become the possession and responsibility of the Office of Archives and Records Management. They are no longer the possession or responsibility of the original office of record or office of creation.
    The chancellor or his/her designate shall conduct audits and surveys of diocesan records from time to time to ensure compliance with these policies and to review and update procedure.

Approved by Bishop Robert Guglielmone, 10 August 2011
Revised 3 October 2012