In Part 1 of this series of posts, we discussed the process of crosswalking–matching items on current program records schedules to the new functional schedules–for records created in the process of licensing a new applicant to practice a given profession. What about after the full license has been created, though? How should agencies handle the records surrounding renewal, lapsed licenses, inactive licenses, and expired licenses?
To begin, let’s look at the functional and business processes behind license files. A small minority of occupational licenses are lifetime licenses: once someone is approved to practice, he or she does not have to renew the license. It remains active and effective unless it has been revoked.
The remainder of professional licenses, though, require some sort of renewal process, typically through licensees’ submission of continuing education hours and renewal fees. Some occupational licensing boards also conduct random audits of licensee-reported continuing education hours.
So, what happens if a licensee fails to submit continuing education and/or renewal fees on time? It depends, based on the occupational licensing board’s establishing statutes and rules. Non-renewed licenses often become inactive¹, meaning the licensee is no longer allowed to practice, but can still be reactivated upon submission of continuing education credits and a fee (either the renewal fee or a special reactivation fee). However, if a license is inactive for too long, it can fully expire²–meaning that if the licensee wishes to become active again, he or she must start over as a new applicant.
Finally, licenses can be revoked due to clerical error, or for cause. (Part 3 of this series of posts will go into greater detail on investigations and disciplinary hearings within Occupational Licensing Boards.)
So how were these workflows documented when the current program schedules were written? It varies from board to board, but many older schedules, which were written with a paper workflow in mind, document this entire process.
In the Board of Nursing schedule, the core licensee file is based on the preliminary application. We can see this through the two “inactive files” included in this excerpt (Items 21041 and 21048), which direct reactivated licenses to be transferred back to the core application files (3333 and 3334). Inactive files are scheduled for destruction after 2 years, meaning the license has fully expired and cannot be reactivated. This retention schedule also has an additional category of license file–one in which the licensee is known to be deceased (Item 21012).
Additionally, this excerpt contains two additional items that are critical to the maintenance of current licenses: renewal records (Item 21047) and reinstatement records (Item 43769).
Now let’s look at how these same records are scheduled on the new functional schedules, under Subfunction 13-2: Authorizing and Licensing:
Under the new schedules, all records related to the core license are scheduled under the same RC No.: 1324.3. How exactly does this work?
Tip: There are two possible trigger periods!
The three-year retention period does not start until “expiration or renewal.” Within each license, there is a core body of material that is retained until the license fully expires–typically, the license itself, initial application, qualifying exam scores, etc. Records relating to renewal, however, are less important than this core body of material. The trigger period for these records is when the license renews. So the license renewal and license reinstatement files on the schedule excerpt can be destroyed 3 years after renewal or reinstatement, while everything else needs to be retained until 3 years after expiration.
Tip: What does “expiration” mean?
Inactive license periods vary greatly by board. Some don’t have an inactive period at all, while others will let licensees reactivate ten or twenty years after the license first lapsed. On the functional schedule, “expiration” means that the license can no longer be renewed, and the licensee must apply as a new applicant to practice again. Any inactive licenses, then, must be retained the same way as active ones–until they have fully expired.
Using this information, we can match the example schedule to the functional schedule like this:
Where does this leave the core license file, though? Under the current program schedule, these records are scheduled to be retained for 32 years total – two in office, and 30 in the State Records Center. This retention period is based on a typical career length rather than the status of the core license. Space considerations may have caused the board to decide to schedule its records this way. Other boards may have similar long retention periods for inactive (but not expired) licenses, if the licenses have a long window for reactivation.
In these cases, what matters is how long the records are ultimately retained. The State Records Center is still operating as additional storage space for semi-active records. If your agency has a long retention period like this and has previously sent records to the State Records Center for storage, contact your records analyst to work out a storage solution under the new schedules.
- Terminology varies by board. Other boards use the terms “lapsed” or “expired” to describe this schedule status.
- Again, terminology varies. Boards that use the term “expired” to refer to an inactive license frequently use the term “relinquished” to refer to a license that can no longer be renewed or reactivated.