Electronic Records Management

An electronic record is any record stored electronically.  A record is anything created or received by an agency, official or employee during the transaction of business, on that agencies time and /or resources, which could also be a personal device, and regardless of the medium.

According to Preservation and Management of State Records and Other Historical Resources Government Code, Chapter 441, Sub Charter L Section 441.189. Electronic Records

  • Any state record may be created or stored electronically in accordance with standards and procedures adopted as administrative rules of the commission.
  • Certified output from electronically digitized images or other electronic data compilations created and stored in accordance with the rules of the commission shall be accepted as original state records by any court or administrative agency of this state unless barred by a federal law, regulation, or rule of court.
  • Certified output from electronically digitized images or other data compilations created before September 1, 1997, in accordance with any applicable prior law shall be accepted as original state records or, in the absence of an applicable prior law, at the discretion of the court or administrative agency.
Types of Electronic Records Location of Electronic Records
  • Email & Attachments
  • Audiovisual (recorded presentations)
  • Digital (scanned) images
  • Electronic Publications (newsletters)
  • Media Sites (YouTube) Content
  • Social Sites ( Facebook, IM, text chat, blogs)
  • Website Content
  • Spreadsheets
  • Word Processing Documents
  • Computers
  • Databases
  • Shared Drives
  • Smart Phones/Tablets/Ipad

Guides/Tips

How long do i keep emails?

  1. Determine if the content of the email relates to state/university business and if it doesn’t then you immediately delete spam, advertisements or emails of a personal nature.
  2. Consider whether the content of the email is part of your responsibility. You would determine if the email requires you to take some sort of action and if not it could just be a convenience copy for you. You could also forward the message to the right person if necessary or you could delete the email.
  3. Check if you are the custodian based on the subject matter of the email. Many times but not in every situation, the sender of the email is the custodian.You can refer to the Retention Schedule as a guide to who the custodians are for different types of records.
  4. Use this flowchart as a guide to help you manage your emails. Email Management Flowchart

Using Personal Emails to Conduct State/University Business

This practice is highly discouraged as there are huge risks associated with it such as:

  • Privacy and Security Issues – If you use your personal email account to conduct state/university business, you can potentially open up that account for scrutiny in instances of litigation, audits or Public Information Act requests.
  • Incorrect Disposition Practices – The university cannot of what they don’t know about so while the university can do it’s due diligence to comply with retention rules if the items are in your personal inbox then those vital records could possible end up being stored for a long time which would lead to a compliance issue.
  • Legal Concerns – In the situation of a Public Information Act request, no one at the university would know about content that you have been sending through a personal account and while the university could claim it didn’t know about the information, if it is discovered that the information does exist on a personal account a court could find that this is a failure to control information and this would constitute as spoliation, which could result in colossal fines and sanctions.

Administrative vs General Correspondence

Its very important to remember that email is a format and that the record series that is used to determine how long to keep emails are based on content of those emails.

Administrative Correspondence (Record Series 1.1.007) – Correspondence pertaining to the formulation, planning, implementation, modification, or redefinition of the programs, services, or projects of an agency. This record series mainly applies to high level staff such as supervisors and directors who will typically send out policy and procedure implementation or directives. Retention period is 4 years.

General Correspondence (Record Series 1.1.008) – Correspondence pertaining to or arising from the routine operations of the policies, programs, services, or projects of an agency. This record series typically encompasses most emails between you and your colleagues which document the regular course of business. Retention period is 2 years.

Creating an Email Filing System

  1. Sort through your emails and delete messages that are non-records (personal emails, unsolicited mail, non-work related emails and spam).
  2. Figure out which emails are record copies. Typically the sender copy is the record copy but if you receive an email that requires you to take some kind of action or documents an action that you took then your copy of the email will also be the record copy.
  3. Use the retention schedule to help you classify the messages and setup folders for the various record series. You can use the schedule to name the folder and include the retention period, for example you can have a folder named “Leave Requests – FE+3”, this way you can easily identify messages when it’s time to dispose of them.