How to Organize according to Records Management (Part 2)

Continuing on from our last post, here’s two more tips on how to better organize your state records according to the records retention schedule.

3. Use filing aids for yourself and others

  • For us here at Sul Ross I don’t think loaning out physical files is that big of an issue, but electronic records can and do get messy. As a record holder you are responsible for the retention, preservation, maintenance, and disposal of the records that you create and/or receive on behalf of Sul Ross State University (Government Code, Chapter 441, Subchapter L, Section 441.180, Definitions).
  • When a record that you’re responsible for it emailed out all across campus, you have to maintain that email. If individual departments print reference copies of your email, you continuing the chain of duplications. When it comes time to dispose of the record, you will have multiple copies to try and sort through and find in order to ensure full compliance.
  • SOLUTION: Only send an attached file to those that really need the document. Duplicate copies are sometimes unnecessary.

4. Maintain consistency throughout your filing program.

  • Successfully organizing your files once does not ensure that the files will stay that way. You will need to reorganize and stay reorganized. As with all of the other requirements with records management, getting caught up in one area but letting it fall by the way side a year later just ensures that you’ll have to do it all over again. Constant up keep equals no more headaches.
  • SOLUTION: Schedule a Records Inventory so that we can organize everything (according to records management) together. This will ensure that you have help on the day of and continual help for the future.

If you have any questions or would like more help, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!

How to Organize according to Records Management (Part 1)

Hi everyone!

If you’ve attended one of the Records Management trainings you know how important it is to organize your files, records (both physical and electronic) based on the records retention schedule. Here are two out of the four tips on how you can make small changes to your filing system that will directly impact your efficiency in disposing of state records.

1.File documents in one location.

  • Did you create or inherit a filing system in which there are records spread all across the office or better yet in another building entirely? In these cases it’s difficult to keep track of what needs to be disposed because your probably not even sure where all of the record copies are.
  • Records spread across an office are one thing, but old records that are held in a different location create a whole other problem. If your department has records held in Ferguson, the basement/cage of the UC or Mountainside, you have actually created a much larger problem for yourself.

Records Management means that you will not have old records that are falling out of filing cabinets or needing to be stored off site. If you run out of room for your files, you are not accurately managing them. Don’t assume that one day it’ll be someone else’s problem later on.

  • SOLUTION: Before you can move forward with anything else, you need to track down all of your department’s files, classify them, and begin purging. I (Kayla Waggoner) would love to help you with this process! Don’t hesitate to give me a call if you have any questions.

2. Do not mix retention period inside filing folders, both physical or electronic.

  • When it comes time to dispose of some of your records, if you have multiple retention periods in one folder it makes it harder to just dispose of it. As an example, many departments probably have a folder dedicated to Student Files. In that student file folder you will probably have their transcripts, degree plans, major assignments, exam grades, and maybe even email correspondence between the department and said student.
  • Here’s that list again with the current retention periods attached:
    • Transcripts – other colleges (for those who are enrolled) – AC+5 (AC = Graduation)
    • Student Degree Plans – AC+3 (AC = Graduation)
    • Major Assignments or Student papers have varying retention periods. These have to be classified individually. Really it’s the grade or other personalized student information that matters. However, important student works might need to be archived.
    • Exam Grades – 1 year (currently).
  • There are lots of other things that could be included in a student file. The point is, from the list we have currently you’ll be shredding once a year from just a portion of the folder, and then again 3 and 5 years after the student graduations.
  • SOLUTIONS:
    • Purchase a multiple sectioned file folder so that all of the individual student’s information may remain in one place, but will not give you a headache when it comes time to shred the documents.
    • Do not print the documents. You can find a lot of the student information online or a quick call to the office of the Deans or the Registrar’s office will provide that information. If you do not have a copy printed or saved electronically then you don’t have to worry about it.
    • Save all of these documents online so that they are much easier to delete when the time comes. When putting them online make sure and put the retention code next to the title as a constant reminder to yourself.

Follow me on to the next post for two more tips.

 

 

Where should I start?

Howdy Lobos!

Are you really eager to get moving with your personal records management program but have no idea where to start? When laying the foundation for your program I suggest you do two things..

1a. Attend one of the trainings provided by the Records Management division

OR

1b. Schedule a time to have a one-on-one training session (for this I would anticipate a                 one to one and a half hour long session)

2. After you’ve been properly trained, I would schedule an inventory for your office.                      During the course of the inventory we will be able to shred/delete documents that                    are either past retention, unessential or old reference documents.

With training and a completed inventory, you’ll be able to start with a solid foundation to grow from there. Remember that with any changes made, consistent upkeep is needed. Do not plan to tackle records management sparingly. Be prepared to make the necessary changes and keep up with them!

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact our offices.

 

Is my cell phone included in the Records Management laws of Texas?

In short, yes!

To review the Texas Legislature notes that a record is defined as any “written, photographic, machine-readable, or other recorded information created or received by or on behalf of a state agency…” Though this definition doesn’t specifically mention the source of media, text messages are included in this definition.

Why? In our society often times a text is sent before an email notice or even a verbal message. It is possible to create a state record on your cell phone if you are conducting official state business through your phone. 

Texting your boss/co-workers to let them know that you’ll be in for work, or to call in sick would not be a record. The following are some practical situations by which your text messages would become state records.

  1. If you’re texting a co-worker to let them know that you will be meeting with a student to discuss their graduation this year.
  2. If you text a student directly about their GPA.
  3. If you text your friend in another department for information about your departments FOAPAL code.
  4. If you text your supervisor or if you are the supervisor and the conversation discusses the details of your travel arrangements.
  5. If you are texting about anything that discusses your job, including any part of the job description, then it’s probably a record.

It’s been previously mentioned in some of the in person trainings that employees whose cell phones are personal property (not paid for using a university stipend) are exempt from this rule. However, the Attorney General does not see the funding source of phones as being the decider of what is or is not a record. For more information please read the TSLAC blog post on the issue.

Please seek more advice on this before moving forward. As always give us a call if you have any questions.

How to prepare for Records Retention in the new fiscal year

In regards to the Records Retention Schedule (RRS) there are just a few dates that are clearly defined, immovable, and universal. The two retention codes that I’m referring to would be FE and CE. Fiscal Years and Calendar Year ends have two clear dates (August 31 and December 31) that help agencies decipher when to get rid of certain records, specifically financial and academic records.

These dates are also immovable. Meaning if you have an FE or CE on the schedule, you know from the beginning the exact date that all of these things will be due for disposal. The other retention codes depend on other factors such as administrative value, student graduation dates, new hire information, employee termination dates, etc. Where the other retention periods require a closer eye to be placed on the records that may or may not be up for disposal, FE and CE provide the date for you.

With that in mind, it’s important to prepare for fiscal years and academic years as new records are created and up for disposal all at the same time. Here are a few suggestions that I’d like to provide for those with FE (Fiscal Year end) requirements.

  1. If your records go by FE on the schedule, organize your files according to the fiscal years, not academic years or calendar years.
  2. When switching from one fiscal year to the next, it’s best to keep all of the records in one place. This will help you when it comes time to dispose of those records. Keeping everything that will require an immediate disposal, in one location, will save you time and energy.
  3. Your focus should be on Records Retention, as much as it would be on other duties that are required of you during the start of a new fiscal year. According to the schedule, your department will have records up for disposal on September 1. The longer you wait, after that date, to dispose of the records, the further you go out of compliance with the State.

For help on dealing with the new academic year or the CE requirements, check out this blog post.

How to prepare for Records Retention in the new academic year

Similar to the FE requirements found on the Records Retention Schedule, CE (calendar year end) requires immediate action and attention. Records Management may be used as a tool for you to help your efficiency and organization when the new academic year, and students, start coming into your offices.

I think everyone would agree that student information is sensitive and should require the same careful eye as someone would place on their financial records. As far as Records Management is concerned, the student records will have a continual disposition period that correlates with their graduation date. Though this post title references academic years, I’d like to offer some tips on how to approach calendar year ends and new academic years.

Calendar Year Ends (CE)

The end of the calendar year is December 31. A CE retention period means that January 1 of every year, you will have certain records that require disposition. Knowing that January 1 is a holiday, January 2 will be your next date of disposal. No one wants to spend their first day back after holiday vacation shredding stacks of paper. However, keep in mind that regardless of when the date falls in the year, you will need to dispose of these records in a timely manner. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Create your pile of records that need to be disposed of on January 1 of the next year, before you leave for your holiday vacation. That way when you get back into work, you can begin tackling your paper files.
  2. In regards to electronic files. My recommendation is the move everything that will be needing immediate disposal onto your desktop or a separate folder titled something to the effect of Delete on January 1.
  3. If you create to do lists for yourself, write Records Retention down, before your holiday break so you know what needs to be done when you get back.

Academic Year Starting (and stopping) 

The schedule doesn’t reference the first or last day of school as being a date where records have a disposal requirement, however graduation dates do. Therefore, when considering academic years here are my suggestions:

  1. Think about your seniors and their graduation dates. Student records will be dependent on graduation dates.
  2. When organizing specific student records that have a AC (plus however many years) retention period, where AC means Graduation date, try to keep all student records in one folder titled something along the lines of Delete May 2020 (using AC+3 as an example).
  3. Be mindful of the records life cycle. Watch these records when their created (new students) and when they die (student graduates + X amount of years).

With any and all records be mindful of the programs that you’re using. BlackBoard and Banner are great but if they are keeping records permanently, they will not help you with Records Retention. In any of those cases, we recommend that the various departments talk to us about where these records are stored and help us create clever solutions to ensure Records Management throughout the department and to work towards avoiding any obstacles placed on normal work flow.

If you’d like some advice on managing the beginning/end of a fiscal year, check out this post.

What to expect in the remainder of 2017 and on into 2018

Hi everyone!

As most everyone has already seen, we’re rolling out the disposition logs with a deadline of October 31, 2017. It is not our goal to confuse anyone with these forms, but rather to create a process and a full supply of documentation that show Sul Ross’ compliance with the State. With that in mind here’s an outline of what you can expect for the foreseeable future.

2017 

August 

  • Final reminder that Disposal Forms were due last April. The deadline is now August 31, 2017.
  • Those who turned their Disposal Forms in last spring have received their Disposition Logs, due October 31, 2017. If you have questions about the Disposition Log, check out this post.

September

  • Those who turned in their Disposal Forms by the August 31, 2017 deadline will receive their Disposition Logs during this month. They have the same deadline of October 31.

October 

  • October 31, 2017 is the deadline for the Disposition Logs. Once those are turned in, you’ll be good to go until November/December.

November

  • November 2, 2017 is our next in person training. If you have not yet attended a training, that will be your day to do so. More information will be provided as the date approaches.

December

  • The next Disposal Form will be due December 15, 2017. This is to account for all of the CE disposition dates across the schedule.

2018

January 

  • Departments who met the December 15, 2017 deadline, will receive their Disposition Logs.

February/March

  • Disposition Logs will be due March 30, 2018.
  • Those who did not turn in a Disposal Form or turned one in late will have the same March deadline as those that turned their forms in the previous December.

April 

  • Trainings and other help. This would be a great time to schedule an inventory. If you’d like more information about the inventories, please give us a call.

May

  • The Records Retention Schedule Draft is due to the State by May 31, 2018. After this date, departments will have one year to make any other changes necessary to the schedule.

June/July 

  • A down month similar to April. We will suggest that departments schedule inventories at this time.

August 

  • Disposal Forms will be due August 31, 2018 to accommodate for the fiscal year end retention period requirements.

From here we will continue the same process as the year before. This is the schedule that the university will be on for the immediate future. If you ever have any questions along the way, please let us know.

 

HELP! What do I archive?

Hello!

Whether your familiar with the Archives of the Big Bend or not, I bet the Records Management side of the Archives will be something new to everyone. As most everyone knows, Records Management isn’t only about getting rid of records, but also about the permanent preservation of important documents.

As any of the numerous Records Management trainings will tell you, the and archival codes listed on the Records Retention Schedule help departments recognize which of their records require either archival review or a transfer to the University Archivist. But what about the records that you personally want to keep but they are either not a record, or lack an I or an O archival code? Don’t worry!

Here’s a quick summary of things that can be found on the Texas State University webpage. This summary is a great example of what should come to Archives.

“Any department, office, employee, or past employee who discovers old university records may have uncovered part of the history that we want to document. Presidential and Provost correspondence, building records, student organizations, and photographs of people and places on campus are highly desired. Other historically significant information is appreciated.”

If you have anything in your office that you think fits that category or would be beneficial to the university, please give the Archives a call. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

 

HELP! What about emails?

Hi everyone!

First off, some of you might not have realized that emails are included in the Records Management laws. Typically emails will be your Correspondence – General or Administrative, but not always. Emails are probably the most up to date records that recordholder’s create, daily.

Here’s some steps to help you determine how to figure emails into your Records Management program and fit individual emails into the Records Retention Schedule.

If you’re still unclear about how to classify email’s, visit the Texas Record blog site maintained by TSLAC. They always have great advice.

What is the Records Retention Disposition Log?

Hello!

I know it has to be confusing trying to decipher between a Records Retention Disposition Request Form and a Log. Hopefully, this post and the one previously on the Disposition Request Form will help clear things up for ya.

Review: The Disposition Request is the form completed by each department. Departments include which records are up for disposal in their department, according to the Records Retention Schedule. This is a request to dispose of the records. When this form is turned into the Records Management department, departments are not yet allowed to disposed of any records, without the completed approvals from the Records Management Officer and the University Archivist.

Note, saying you disposed of the records is one thing but actually showing that you have is another subject. Once a department has received the approval to dispose of their records, they must then document that they did dispose of the records. Keep in mind that the approval is to show a departments complete understanding of the Records Retention Schedule. For more information on the Records Retention Disposition Request Form please see one of our previous posts.

The Disposition Log requires dates of disposal and method type. The log also records any notes that the Archivist’s made about your departments records. The packet has several pages of detailed instructions. Please be sure and read through those carefully before completing and turning in the Disposition Log.

In short, the Disposition Log is how we’re documenting that departments have actually disposed of their records, once permission has been given.

When reports are created on the compliance to the Records Management Laws, within each department, the Disposition Logs will serve as evidence of that. Same as the Disposition Request Form, be on the look out for a training video on how to complete the Disposition Log.