Category Archives: E-Records

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.

 

 

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.

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.