Records Management and Archives

University System of Georgia records retention policies and procedures

Records Management Policies

Designation of Records Management Officer at Each USG Institution
The University System of Georgia requires the head of each USG Institution to designate an Institution Records Management Officer (IRMO). The authority and responsibility for overseeing each Institution’s compliance with its legal obligations regarding records management are vested in the Institution head and delegated to the Institution Records Management Officer. This designated individual is responsible for implementing the Records Management Policies and Procedures of the USG as contained herein and creating and implementing the Records Management Policies and Procedures of the institution. The IRMO serves as the Institution’s contact with USG Legal Affairs and the Georgia Archives.

Creation and Ownership of Records
The USG is required by law to create and maintain complete and accurate records that document the conduct of the business of its respective offices. Records may be created in formats other than paper. All records created or received in the course of work are records of the state and may not be disposed of or removed without proper authorization. The USG is required to protect and preserve these records. Any actual or threatened loss or removal of records should be reported to the IRMO, State Archivist, or USG Legal Affairs.

Regents Advisory Committee on Records Management
The USG recognizes that input from each of its institutions is required to manage its records. Accordingly, the USG reestablishes the Regents Advisory Committee on Records Management (RACRM) to meet and review proposed changes to the USG Records Retention Schedules and discuss records management strategies. Members of the RACRM shall be the IRMO designated by each USG Institution, a representative from the Georgia Archives, and a representative from USO Legal Affairs. The representative from Georgia Archives shall head the RACRM.

Retention of Records
Each record created by a USG office should be listed with a retention period in the USG Records Retention Schedules. Records are to be retained until the retention period has expired, at which time the records become eligible for final disposition. Each office should be aware of the retention periods, as listed in the schedule, for records in its care. If records are not listed in the schedule or there are any necessary changes, the IRMO should contact the State Archives. Records not listed in the schedule cannot be legally destroyed.

Electronic Records
Electronic records consist of electronically recorded information created or received by the USG in the transaction of USG business and are to be retained according to the USG Record Retention Schedules. Electronic records, including email, are not specifically listed in the schedule; their retention is determined by the content of the information contained within the record. Electronic records may include, but are not limited to, word processing files, databases, spreadsheets, graphic files, and electronic mail messages, including text messages and instant messages. Like other records, electronic records should not be deleted or destroyed except according to the destruction procedures outlined in this document.

Storage of Records
Some records may become too voluminous to retain in office spaces until the records’ retention period has expired. These records should be stored in either a designated location at the institution, at the State Records Center, or at a local facility approved by the IRMO and State Archives. Electronic records should be stored in institutional approved locations and not on personal devices or accounts. Prior to an employee being terminated, the institution should ensure access to all records under the control of the employee, including ensuring that emails are not deleted without following the institution’s procedures.

Destruction of Non-Permanent Records
The USG will not maintain records (including electronic records) longer than necessary, but the records are not to be destroyed until authorized by the IRMO. Once the retention period for non-permanent records has expired, the office responsible for the records completes a Destruction Request Form, obtains signatures from the appropriate authority, and sends the form to the IRMO. The records may only be destroyed after receipt of the signed and completed form from the IRMO. The records are then to be destroyed through recycling. Sensitive records should be shredded. Following destruction, the destruction notice is signed by an employee witnessing the destruction and then sent to the IRMO and kept as documentation of the destruction. Because just deleting an electronic record does not necessarily result in their destruction, each institution shall create procedures for the destruction of electronic records.

Certain record-related materials need not be retained as records under the requirements of the schedule. Such materials include: 1) duplicate copies that do not require official action, so long as the creating office maintains the original record for the period required; 2) catalogs, trade journals, and other publications received that require no action and do not document institutional activities; 3) stocks of blank stationery, blank forms, and other surplus materials that are not subject to audit and have become obsolete: 4) transitory records, which are temporary records created for short-tern, internal purposes that may include, but are not limited to, telephone call-back messages, drafts of ordinary documents not needed for their evidentiary value, copies of material sent for informational purposes but not needed by the receiving office for future business, and internal communications about social activities. These documents may be disposed of without documentation of destruction.

Permanent Records
Records with a retention period in the Records Retention Schedules of “Permanent” shall not be destroyed but stored either at the Institution’s Archives or the Georgia Archives in Morrow.

Reformatting Records
Reformatting generally involves replacing paper records with microfilm or electronic images, but may also include replacing electronic records with paper, microfilm, or other media. Once reformatted, the original record may be destroyed as long as the duplicate captures all data from the original version. Before destroying the original of a permanent record, contact Georgia Archives. No reformatting project should occur without prior consultation with the IRMO and Georgia Archives and completion of a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the project.