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               Records Management Policy


What is a “record”?

A record is a document that contains the facts and relevant information your organization utilizes in its day-to-day operations.  While most organizations utilize many types of records in various formats to carry out their mission, the more common records exist as paper records, electronic records or as scanned records stored on microfiche, microfilm or CD-ROM's.

The value of records differs across campus. Generally, the value of a record to a department is based on four criteria: administrative/operational, fiscal, legal and historical. The same record may contain value based on more than one of these criteria. Categorizing a record according to these criteria helps us determine how long the record should be kept and what measures should be taken to prevent loss or destruction.

Administrative/Operational Value - These are records which support the mission of the University or your department. They retain administrative value as long as they assist the University or your department in performing its duties. Departmental policies and procedures, memos describing actions or decisions, and reports containing information on the current status of a project illustrate this type of record.

Fiscal Value - Records of fiscal value are those that provide financial information useful to the University or department's operation such as budgets, payroll and revenue/expense. Records that help the University or departments maintain an accurate financial picture over an extended period of time should be retained for management purposes.

Legal Value - Records have legal value if they contain evidence of legally enforceable rights or obligations of the University and its faculty, staff and students, or serve to fulfill legal requirements. Advice regarding the legal status of a specific record may be obtained from the General Counsel's office.

Historical/Research Value - Records of historical value help in current decision making and in future planning by describing the University's past and how it has influenced prior decision making. Some questions that may help determine the historical/research value of a record include:

  • What historical significance will the records have in the future?
  • Will the records help preserve information important to the department's primary mission?
  • Will the records help preserve information important in planning for the future?
  • Will the records provide important glimpses into past research interests of faculty and how they have shaped current and planned future research in your department  

The University Archives collects and preserves information that is of enduring historical value. The University Archivist can be consulted at any time about the preservation value of records which have outlived their primary purpose within the custodial office and should be consulted about any records which have not been previously placed on a retention schedule.

Records may include, but are not limited to:

  •     general correspondence and electronic messages

  •     financial transactional records

  •     working papers, reports, tables, minutes, planning documents, policies & procedures,    inventories, departmental publications

  •     student and course documentation and transcripts

  •     personnel documentation

  •     web sites

  •     audio/video files

  •     electronic backup media (tapes, disks, and other storage devices)

  •     grant documentation

The following materials have no value after they have served their initial purpose and should not be retained:

  •    large quantities of duplicate materials

  •    routing slips or phone message slips

  •    catalogues and other printed material from non-university agencies

  •    “for your information” notes

  •    Notices or memos that only give timely information such as a change in time and date of a meeting

  •    Procedures that have been updated

  •    Scraps and supplies

What is a records management schedule?

A records management schedule is a table/chart that clearly categorizes types of records and outlines their disposition (life span)—active v. inactive, how long they should be kept, and instructions for their disposal or transfer to archives.  State or federal law may determine the period that certain records must be kept; this schedule has been reviewed and is in compliance with these regulations.

Who are records custodians?

Maintaining records in a safe, secure, and retrievable way is the primary responsibility of the creator while the record is serving its useful purpose.  Sometimes the creator of the record will also become the official custodian.

An official “custodian” follows this policy to make decisions on the retention and disposition of records and to provide guidance to others who are involved in preparing records for storage.

The custodian is the keeper of the “official copy.”

Many records may have multiple copies in several offices and departments at the University; however, the official record will be maintained as indicated on the records management schedule.  Duplicate copies may be kept as long as they are useful.

What is a “VITAL” record?

Vital records are those records that are fundamental to an organization’s ability to function.  Certain information is critical to the continued operation or survival of an organization during or immediately following a crisis.  They contain information necessary to recreate an organization’s legal and financial status and preserve the rights and obligations of the board, employees, students, and others.  Vital records are indicated as such on the Records Management Schedule.


Last modified

June 1, 2009

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