EWU's responsibility for public records is contained in WAC 434-615, which states in part that:
- Public records are property of the State
- Must remain in the legal custody of the office in which they were originally filed
- Shall be destroyed or transfered only per instructions from the State Records Committee
EWU Records Management Program
University records are public records and may not be destroyed, transferred to the University Records Center, or transferred to the University Archives without an official retention period approved by the State Records Committee. The University Records Retention Manager will assist you with the forms to transfer your documents to the proper location.
Benefits of Managing Public Records
Purpose: Provide guidance to state and local government agencies on how managing public records through an effective records management program delivers benefits to the agency.
An effective records management program:
1. Enables the agency to fulfill its mission:
The public records of an agency form a critical element of the informational assets of the agency. Having timely access to accurate information is central to an agency being able to fulfill its mission.
2. Promotes cost-effective use of agency resources:
- Time - Agency staff can work most productively when the right people are able to locate the right records at the right time. In addition, retaining records that document the agency's actions and experiences helps prevent the wasting of time and resources during staff turnover.
- Storage costs - Through timely destruction of non-archival records (which have met their minimum retention period) and transfer of archival records to Washington State Archives, agencies are able to make optimal use of the physical space within their facilities and the storage space on their servers.
- IT costs - In addition to reducing IT storage costs, the appropriate disposal/transfer of public records also reduces other IT costs associated with the time it takes to backup/restore data and to migrate records.
- Litigation costs - By being able to locate all necessary records in a timely matter during litigation, public records requests, and audits, agencies minimize their risks and associated costs.
3. Promotes open and accountable government:
Public records are the evidence by which government agencies are able to demonstrate, whether during litigation, public records requests or audits, that they took the right action at the right time for the right reasons.
Demonstrating that public records are organized, controlled and only disposed of as part of a managed program enhances the professionalism of the agency and the public's confidence in the agency.
Access to Records
Public records transferred to the Washington State Archives are open for inspection and examination by the public unless prohibited by specific statute or restricted under the terms of the Public Disclosure Act (RCW 42.17). All records that have been transferred to archival custody are available to researchers on equal terms of access. The Archives does not grant privileged or exclusive use of materials to any person or organization. Records that are in the custody of the Archives must be used and copied on site at the Archives. They may not be removed for any purpose unless special arrangements have been made or they are subpoenaed into court.
Differences Between the Archives and the Records Center
Often when people speak of "archiving" their records or sending their records to archives they are really speaking about the State Records Center. Although both the State Records Center and the State Archives are part of the Washington State Division of Archives and Records Management, and although the jobs of both sections are to store records and provide reference services, there are several fundamental differences.
State Records Center:
- Serves as an off-site storage facility for state agency records
- Only stores records which have Records Retention Schedules and have not yet reached the end of their retention period
- Only allows the agency of origin access to the records
- Checks records back out to the agency of origin upon request
- Charges the agency of origin for storage based upon the number of boxes stored
- Assigns each box a unique bar-code number for inventory control, tracking and reference
- Only stores records which have historical value
- Only takes in records which have completed their retention period (or in some cases, records which were never scheduled)
- Allows access to anyone, under the terms of the Public Disclosure Act
- Does not check records out except under very special circumstances
- Does not charge for box storage
- Catalogs its holdings by subject, content and origin
Preparing the Records
Records designated for transfer to the Archives should be placed in file folders upright in records center boxes. They should be in the order in which they were originally used. Do no put binders, hanging files or large metal clips in the boxes . If the records are being sent to either the Records Center or the Archives, the Archival Box Content List needs to be included in the box.
*Please note that records pertaining to ongoing or pending audits or judicial disclosure proceedings must not be destroyed until the issue is resolved. These records should be documented and securely stored in properly marked boxes. Please see the Records Retention Manager for assistance with this.*