Records Management and Archives

University System of Georgia records retention policies and procedures


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Active record: A record referenced often in the conduct of current departmental business.

Administrative record: Records documenting the day to day operation and administration of an office (e.g., legal, financial, budget, personnel and other common operations.)

Archival Record: Permanent record which is inactive and no longer needs to be housed in the office in which it originates. These records are of enduring value, and document the history and the development of the organization.

Archives: An area used for the permanent storage of valuable records and documents for the benefit of scholars and for future generations.


Back-file conversion: The process of scanning in, indexing and storing a large backlog of documents on an imaging system.


Case file: Record groupings that pertain to a specific action, event, person, place, thing, organization, location, program or project. Include personnel, project, and transaction files

Chronological Files: Files arranged in date order

Chronological Filing: Filing in date sequence.

Classification: The process of assigning a file series (or class) to a document.

Closed File: A file folder in which documents should not be added.

Creator: The person, administrative unit, or organization that originates, receives, or assembles records in the course of normal business.

Current Files Area: The area in which frequently used records are maintained.

Cut-Off: The time at which all new (Active) material is placed in a new set of folders and the previous folders (Inactive) are removed from the current files area and transferred to a storage area, records center or archives. The cut-off date varies with the record type and departmental procedures. (eg:__ July 1, end of quarter, end of semester, etc.).


Destruction Date: The date which marks the end of the legally required retention period for non- permanent records and the time when records should be destroyed unless the records are involved with or relevant to audit, litigation, or continuing administrative action.

Disposal: The final removal, whether for destruction or transfer’ to another records storage center or archives, of records that have reached the end of their retention period.

Disposition: The actions taken regarding records which are no longer needed to support on-going administrative activities in accordance with the University Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. Directions may include destroy, transfer to the University Records Center, transfer to the University Archives, transfer to inactive records storage space, or retain permanently in unit.

Duplicate File: A photocopy of official record created for easy reference that is not located in the Office of Record.


Electronic Records, Electronic Data, Information and/or Record: Any form of digitally recorded material generated, transmitted, received and/or stored that is designated a record by data owner or law, based on content and/or subject matter. This includes but is not limited to electronic digital interchange, email, digital/text voice messages, instant messages and text messages.

Eye-readable: A record that can be read by the naked eye, without the aid of hardware or software. (e.g.:__ paper or microfilm/fiche is considered eye-readable although it must be magnified to be read.)


File Series: A set of documents all having the same subject. For example, invoices, purchase orders, resumes, job descriptions, and meeting minutes are all different series (classes) of documents. (May also be referred to as Class)

FERPA: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly referred to as the Buckley Amendment, protects the rights of students by controlling the creation, maintenance, and access to educational records. It guarantees students’ access to their academic records while prohibiting unauthorized access by others.

Format: The physical form in which material appears — books, slides, photographs, film, recordings, etc.


Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 50-18-70) This is a state law requiring that public records be open and available for inspection by any member of the public. Any member of the public may request an inspection of any public record. It is not necessary for the requestor to show particular need or interest in the matters covered by the record in order to gain access. Most USG institutions have a designated person/office to whom a request is made. A USG institution must provide access to existing public records in its custody or under its control within three business days, including those it has created and those it has received in the course of its operation. Institutions are not required to create a record which does not exist at the time of the request nor are they required to compile requested information into a single document. [Open record exceptions include:

  • medical and veterinary records and other materials involving matters of personal privacy;
  • records relating to pending investigations;
  • records required by the federal government to be kept confidential, such as student educational records;
  • trade secrets and certain information of a proprietary nature;
  • certain research data, records, or information that has not been published, patented, or otherwise publicly disseminated;
  • personal and financial information of donors
  • confidential evaluations submitted to a public agency in connection with the hiring of a public employee.]

GLBA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act: The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, (GLBA) effective May 23, 2003, addresses the safeguarding and confidentiality of customer information held in the possession of financial institutions such as banks and investment companies. GLBA contains no exemption for colleges or universities. As a result, educational entities that engage in financial activities, such as processing student loans, are required to comply. GLBA and other emerging legislation could result in standards of care for information security across all areas of data management practices both electronic and physical (employee, student, parents, customer, alumni, donor …etc.). As part of this act, personal information means any non-public financial information about an individual that is handled or that is maintained by or on behalf of the university or its affiliates. The definition of personal information is very broad and may include: social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, credit history or rating, tax return information, student grades (FERPA), medical records (HIPPA).

GPIPA (Georgia Personal Indentity Protedtion Act of 2007(O.C.G.A. 10-1-910 thru 10-1-912): Security Breach Notification Law; Georgia’s breach notification law was amended in 2007 to include public universities and other state and local agencies. Personal information protected by GPIPA includes the combination of an individuals full name, or first initial and last name with one of the following, when not encrypted or redacted: Social Security Number; Driver’s license number or state ID card number; Account, credit card, or debit card number; Account passwords, personal identification numbers, or other access codes .


HIPAA: The Health Insurance Protability and Accountablility Act of 1996; The portion of this law of particular importance to Records Managers, are the standards dealing with the privacy of health information which helps prevent improper use of one’s medical record. Protected Health information is considered any patient identifiable data including but not limited to: social security number, name, demographic data (address, telephone number, fax number, sex, date of birth, etc.), diagnosis, e-mail address, medical record number, account number.


Inactive records: Records no longer required by their creating unit or other units to carry on current business and therefore ready for final disposition in accordance with the University Records Retention and Disposition Schedule.

Input: In electronic records, data to be entered into a computer for processing.

Input Records: Non electronic documents are used to create, update, or modify records in an electronic medium; or electronic records containing data used to update a separate computer file. Sometimes called source records or source documents.


Journal: In accounting, a (book) register of daily transactions that are posted to the general ledger (e.g.:__ payroll, sales)


Life Cycle of Records: Records management’s three stages of a record:__ creation, maintenance and use, and disposition.


Machine-readable: Records that must be read by using hardware and/or software.

Medium (Media): The physical makeup of recorded information. (eg:__ paper, film, disks, etc.)

Microform: An arrangement of images reduced in size, as on microfilm or microfiche.


Non-current record: A record no longer required for the day-to-day conduct of an active business.

Non-record: Materials excluded from the legal definition of (public) record. (e.g.:__ copies of documents kept only for convenience of reference, extra copies of printed records or publications and materials intended solely for reference or exhibition.


Off-site Storage: A facility other than the normal place of business where records are stored for protection.

Office of record: The office that maintains an “official record” copy of a document, in support of state business, as opposed to a duplicate.

Official Copy: A document possessing public record status, created or received by a state officer or state employee, while conducting state business and serving state government in an official capacity. This is the copy that must be kept the entire retention period.

Out Card: Card inserted in place of a file that has been removed from it’s place of storage/file cabinet for access. The out card should identify the records, the date taken, and the person taking them.

Output: Information transmitted from internal to external units of a computer, or to an outside medium.

Output Records: Information generated by a computer and placed on an outside medium, such as paper, microform, or an electronic storage medium.


PCI DSS: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard; While not a law, compliance with the PCI Data Security Standard is required to accept major credit cards for business transactions on a USG campus. PCI DSS defines protected customer financial information, and establishes security best practices to safeguard that information. Expensive fines may result from mishandling of financial data, as well as potential revocation of credit card processing services.

Pending file: Correspondence, reference and similar materials, filed in chronological order and generally used for reference and convenience.

Permanent Record: A record which has a permanent or lasting administrative, legal, fiscal, research or historical value and therefore must be retained and preserved indefinitely.

Personal Papers (Personal files or personal records): Materials belonging to an individual that are not used to conduct agency business or that are used exclusively for that individual’s convenience. Must be clearly designated as such and kept separate from the agency’s records.

Public Record: According to the Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 50-18-70), (public) records are “all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, computer based or generated information, or similar material prepared and maintained or received in the course of the operation or a public office or agency”


Record Copy: The single official copy of a document maintained on file by an administrative unit of the University. A record copy is sometimes termed the file copy. The record copy is usually, but not always, the original. A record copy may be held by the creating office or another office of record.

Records: “recorded information in any form, including data in computer systems, created or received and maintained by an organization or person in the transaction of business and kept as evidence of such activity”. Georgia statute defines records as “all documents, papers, letters, maps, books (except books in formally organized libraries), microfilm, magnetic tape, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in performance of functions by any agency” (Official Code of Georgia Annotated, § 50-18-91[5]).

Records Center: A storage space or facility for the high-density and low-cost storage and maintenance of semi-active or inactive records pending their scheduled final disposition.

Records Inventory: A survey of records to determine the size, scope, and intricacy of the department/agency’s records. It should include the record series, inclusive dates, types of records, quantity, arrangement, and description.

Records Management: A field of management responsible for the systematic control of the creation, maintenance, use, reproduction, and disposition of records.

Records Manager: The person assigned primary responsibility for the records management program.

Records Series: A group of identical or related records that are used, filed, and disposed of in a similar fashion. (Human Resources & Student records are examples of Record Series, while College Department Student Files and Veterans Records are types of records that fall under the Student Records Series. Each record type would have a separate Retention schedule.)

Records Retention Schedule: Instructions for what to do with public records (based on administrative need and legal requirements) from their creation, through active and inactive use, to their destruction or retirement. The schedule provides a minimum period of time that a specific type of record must be preserved.

Retention Period: The period of time during which records must be kept before they are either destroyed or stored in an archival area (i.e., records as off June 30, 2007 having a retention period of three years should be kept until June 30, 2010).

Retirement: The removal of records from an active location to a storage or records center. Or from a records center to an archival area.

Retrieval: The activity of finding and making available records or record information.


Sensitive Data: Any information whose comprise may cause harm to an individual or institution and includes academic (FERPA), medical (HIPAA) and identity numbers.

Scanner : A device that optically scans a human readable image and converts the image to machine readable code, with applicable software.

Scheduled Records: Records for which there is an official records retention schedule.

Subject Files: Records arranged and filed according to their general informational, or subject, content. Mainly letters and memorandums but also forms, reports, and other material, all relating to program and administrative functions, not to specific cases. (Also known as general correspondence files)


Transfer: The process of moving records from one location to another. For example:__ From office space to storage facility, Records Center, or Archives.

Transitory Records : Routine correspondence with short-term records value, to be destroyed after the action covered by this correspondence is completed.

Transmittal Sheet: Used by agencies in transferring records to the Records Center or Archives, which lists box contents along with other statistical data.


Until Obsolete: Retention period assigned to records that become valueless on a non-routine basis.

Until Superseded: Retention period assigned to records that are routinely updated or revised and where the previous version has no continuing value.


Vital (Essential) Records: Records containing essential information, necessary for the resumption of operations after a disaster, the reestablishment of the legal and financial status of the organization, and to fulfill obligations to the organization, its students and employees, and to outside parties.


Working Copies/files (Reference Only Copies): Documents with short-term or transitory use and used as reference-only. May include rough notes, calculations, or drafts used to prepare or analyze other documents. Working copies are documents that have no administrative, operational, financial, legal or historic value.

↑ Top