The law broadly defines what constitutes a “public record.” According to RCW 40.14.010 it is defined as being “made by or received by [the university] . . . in connection with the transaction of public business” and “regardless of physical form or characteristics”. According to RCW 42.56.010 it is “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function, prepared, owned, used, or retained by [the university] regardless of physical form or characteristics.”
For the purposes of these laws, public records include: emails, text messages, social media posts, voice mail, art, maps, photos, video and sound recordings, documents (paper and electronic), and so much more! Additionally, if university business is conducted on personally owned devices like laptop computers, cell phones, the resulting records constitute public records.
Everyone! Public records created in connection with the transaction of public business, belong to the university as an agency of the State of Washington, not to the employee. So it is up to each and every employee to follow the Retention Schedules approved by the Washington Office of the Secretary of State.
A Record Series is the type or “genre” of a collection of records which are used for a specific function. For example, some records series that apply to the university include: Human Resource Management (records related to the university’s workforce); Student Administration (records regarding the administration and management of students from application for admission, to enrollment, to completion/discontinuation); Teaching and Learning (records designed to facilitate learning including curriculum planning and development, delivery, assessment, and evaluation); etc.
A Disposition Authorization Number is a code used to systematically identify a Record Series in a legal document that defines retentions and disposal of records.
Examples: GS 01001 (General State DAN which applies to university financial transactions) and 74-07-05577 (EWU specific DAN which applies to student admission applications).
A record that has met its retention cut-off is considered inactive for its retention period.
A cut-off is an event which triggers the beginning of a retention period.
Example: Retain for 6 years after end of fiscal year
These are records needed, in the event of a disaster, to continue operations. The university needs these records to resume its core functions following a disaster.
There are several factors which must be met before records subject to retention can be destroyed:
- Does it meet the requirements in the retention schedule?
- Is it still needed for business needs (and not a “just in case”)?
- Is there an audit for which it is needed?
- Is there a litigation hold / public records request currently on the record?
Satisfactory answers to these questions (an answer of “yes”) then results in a Destruction Notice Form being completed, signed by the department, and recorded with Records Management.
Note: records that have minimal retention value (transitory records) only need to be retained until they are no longer needed for university business. Transitory records can be destroyed by the employee.
It is a written index of what records are stored in boxes/records that are ready for storage (either at Campus Records Storage or State Archives). This document helps Records Officers with proper disposition and inventory.
Have you ever entered a messy garage and thought to yourself, “I know it is in here, somewhere” or taken stock of what is in the fridge before grocery shopping? These activities are kind of like a records inventory. It is taking stock of what you have and organizing it so you know where it is located. It is basically a list of the records that are stored in the box.
It may seem daunting at first, but investing a little bit of time can save you and your office time, stress, and money in the long run.
Contact Records Management to get started.
The biggest thing is consistency. Be consistent in:
- How you store your records
- How you name your records
- How often you send them to Campus Records Storage; and
- Most importantly in following the retention schedule.
- Organize the records in a logical manner. Store letter size records so they face the label side of the box and store legal size records so they face the front of the box.
- Do not leave records in binders or hanging file folders, please use regular file folders for record’s storage instead. For unusual sized records, please contact Records Management for assistance.
- First of all, breathe. It is not as bad as you think. Does your office have a naming system? An organization system? If not, start there and make sure the rest of your department/college is on board with the system to ensure consistency. (Psst. Records Management can help departments and colleges create naming and organization systems).
- If your department/college has naming and organization system in place, then take a little bit of time (15 minutes – couple of hours) on your slowest day of the week, select a small section of records, and start sorting according to your office’s system.
- If you still need help and/or are ready to pull your hair out, contact Records Management and I will schedule time to come to your office and assist you with beginning the process.
Call Nicole Vermillion at 359-6995 or email Nicole at email@example.com.