Financial records retention information announced in the General Ledger newsletter

The July 2011 issue of the General Ledger Newsletter, a newsletter from the Office of Finance and Treasury, highlights the accounts payable records in Princeton’s current record retention guidelines. The intention of this statement is to clarify the office of record (i.e., who has ownership of and responsibility) for these records. I will cite the main points here, and include additional information after each point.

  • The Office of Finance and Treasury is the office of record for payment vouchers (e.g., travel vouchers, employee vouchers, vendor vouchers, etc.), purchase orders, and supporting materials (e.g., invoices, receipts, etc.).

When a request for payment is processed by Accounts Payable, the transaction and its supporting evidence are captured in the financial systems in use by Accounts Payable. Accounts Payable then becomes the “office of record” for these records, and assumes the responsibility for maintaining them for the appropriate retention period. The department should maintain the original records for 90 days or until the payment has been verified and reconciled in the departmental account, whichever is longer.

  • This policy does not include the financial records of sponsored research.

While Accounts Payable also processes payments for sponsored research projects, we will be treating the financial records of sponsored research separately, primarily because of their longer-term retention requirements. Please continue to maintain these records as before. The Office of Finance and Treasury and I will follow up with specific retention information for these records within the next 6-8 months.

  • Finance and Treasury will provide departments with copies of previously submitted documents upon request.

As I mentioned above, departments should retain original records until they’ve been verified and reconciled. The 90-day period should reduce the need for departments to request copies of those documents they have previously submitted. In the event that a copy is needed, however, please request it via e-mail: invoices@princeton.edu.

  • Departments are the office of record for departmental credit card statements and receipts.

Yes, this means what you think it means. Departments must retain the records (monthly credit card statements, credit card transaction receipts, etc.) that document the use of departmental credit cards. These records must be retained for 7 years and then destroyed. Please maintain the records in such a way that you can provide these records if needed.

But wait! There’s more…

  • Departments may, if they so choose, scan credit card receipts and other documentation and destroy the originals, provided that they scan them to a legally acceptable standard.

We are currently working on documenting some commonsense scanning guidelines, and they will be published here, as well as announced in other venues. You may expect these shortly.

Please check here regularly for more news and information on all types of records retention topics, and feel free to e-mail me with any questions you might have.

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