Happy New Year, Lobos!
I’m really looking forward to working with all of you this year to insure that Sul Ross State University continues to place an importance onto the state laws regarding records management. If you’ve compiled your New Year resolution list already, might I suggest that you highly consider making improvements in your records management techniques and understanding. Fear not, however, this is one resolution that you will not have to do alone. I am here to help you every step of the way.
To start off, here’s a list of a few ways in which you can slowly improve the records management techniques in your own office and department.
- Understanding what the schedule is referring to when it says, “Correspondence – Administrative” (1.1.007) or “Correspondence – General” (1.1.008).
- After almost a year of the new records management program at Sul Ross, I feel as though this is still confusing to many people.
- Not every email that comes into your inbox would be considered Correspondence – Administrative/General. In like manner, not every email that comes into your inbox is junk. Be mindful of what should be kept and what can be deleted immediately.
- For more tips on how to categorize your emails, please read my previous post titled “HELP! What about emails?“.
- Spend at least 10 minutes a week dedicating time to reorganize or maintain your current organization methods according to the records retention schedule.
- If you start out slow, eventually you’ll get there. It’s a huge undertaking at the beginning and a constant pain afterwards, but if you’re diligent you will save yourself a lot of time, effort and headaches.
- Ask don’t assume.
- Records management seems like an easy thing to understand, and quite honestly I would have to agree with that. However, not attending training and going at it alone does not mean because you’ve looked at the schedule, does not mean that you will be following the records management guidelines correctly. It’s really important for everyone to reach out to the records management office concerning best methods and practices. Even if it’s one phone call/email you’ll benefit from it. I promise.
Good luck this year Lobos! We have a lot of big things happening for Sul Ross in 2018. Let’s make this year a good one for Records Management!
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!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Think about your seniors and their graduation dates. Student records will be dependent on graduation dates.
- 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).
- 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.
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.
We’ve created a new Disposition Request Form for Records Retention! YAY! What does that mean? It means that the old disposal form used back in March through May of 2017 is out and this new form is in.
- Why do we have a new form?
- The previous disposal form was not user friendly. (you probably agree with this)
- The signatures at the bottom of the page made it confusing as to what individuals were signing for
- The form was too broad, which meant that there were multiple errors.
We take responsibility for the lack of ease with the previous form, primarily because trainings were not offered specifically on how to fill out the form. With that said, the new form is more user friendly and will have a training video to accompany it.
- Why do you have to fill out the form?
- We’re ensuring that departments understand Records Management, the Schedule, and what is required of them.
- The form also serves as a buffer. If someone assumes that FE+4 means August 31, 2013, we’ll have problems. When turning in the forms, the Records Management department has a chance to correct these minor errors to say that FE+4 actually means August 31, 2012.
- Why does it matter how correct we are on the forms and in our understanding?
- It’s extremely important that the departments across the campuses dispose of their records on time. This means that getting rid of paperwork or computer files before the Schedule allows you too, is a violation of the Records Management laws. Just as well, if you never destroy paperwork or computer files you’re also in violation of the laws.
If you ever have any questions about the forms/paperwork used in the overall Records Management program at Sul Ross, please feel free to contact us.
Stay tuned for a training video on how to fill out the Disposition Request Form!
Records Management Laws are what is required by the Texas legislature of all State institutions. The definition of records management is as follows,
” the application of management techniques to the creation, use, maintenance, retention, preservation, and destruction of state records…
for the purpose of improving the efficency of recordkeeping, ensuring access to public information under Chapter 552, and reducing costs.” (Government Code, Chapter 441, Subchapter L, Section 441.180)
As you can see from the definition, retention is just one part to the definition of records management. Records Retention refers to the RR Schedule that all state employees must adhere to.
“Records retention is the way by which state records are managed.”
Records Management is used to describe the entire program being implemented here at Sul Ross. The program includes an updated Records Retention Schedule, inventories, trainings, one-on-one consultations, and archival review of state records.
The more you know! 🙂