Frequently Asked Questions
To use the FAQ page, click on the desired category to view the questions and answers. Department personnel involved with the maintenance, storage, retrieval, and tracking of records will find these FAQ's a convenient reference when using records management services. If you have a question that is not on the list, or would like to recommend a question, please contact us and let us know.
A Department Records Coordinators (DRC) serves as the department designee for the management of records and liaison with the Records Management Department. Each DRC must be knowledgeable about all records received or created by the department.
RMAN stands for "Records Management Assigned Number". We assign a four digit number to each department for retention scheduling purposes according to their entity alignment. For example, numbers beginning with "1" are aligned with the office of the President; "2" are aligned with Business and Finance; "3" are aligned with the Health system; and "4" are aligned with the Academic Enterprise.
State agencies must assign a unique agency item number to each records series listed in the schedule. Our database sorts each department schedule, assigns a two digit sequence number to each records series and then puts the RMAN and sequence numbers together to form the unique 6 digit Agency Item Number.
In Texas, state records are defined by TGC §441.138. A state record is: any written, photographic, machine-readable, or other recorded information created or received by or on behalf of a state agency or an elected state official that documents activities in the conduct of state business or use of public resources." Does not include: Library or museum material, Convenience copies, Stocks of publications, Alternative dispute resolution documentation.
A records schedule is a tool for employees of the University Of Texas Medical Branch to use when managing the records of the university. It lists records received or created by an office and gives an assessment of their value by indicating when (and if) those records should be destroyed. The schedule is also an agreement between the office, the University Archives and Records Management.
According to TGC §441.138, the schedule gives our university permission to destroy public records according to its terms and conditions. Your office may destroy records only if they are listed on the certified schedule and the record's retention period has expired. All state agencies are required by state law to prepare and submit an agency schedule to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) every three years in accordance with 13 TAC §6.2. Permission to destroy any record not listed on the schedule must be granted by TSLAC.
Records management staff provide professional assistance to UTMB departments for the preparation of departmental retention schedules. The Records Management User Guide explains the concepts and process for creating a retention schedule.
All state records must appear on the retention schedule. Records in all formats should be included, such as paper files, electronic files, digital images, and microfilm.
Retention schedules undergo a series of reviews by records management staff, DRC's, and other department personnel. The retention schedule is eventually approved by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). The entire process usually takes three to six months after it has been submitted to TSLAC and must be recertified every three years.
A retention period is the length of time you are legally required to keep any given record before destruction or archival preservation. So, the question "How long should I keep contracts?" translates to "What is the retention period for contracts?
A retention code is an event. They are assigned to some records when the retention period is based on a future action or condition. The Codes and their meaning are:
|AC||After Closed (or terminated, completed, expired, or settled): The record is related to a function or activity with a finite closure date.|
|AV||As Long as Administratively Valuable: The immediate purpose for which the record was created has been fulfilled and any subsequent need for the record to conduct the operations of the department, if any, has been satisfied.|
|CE||Calendar Year End: December 31.|
|FE||Fiscal Year End: August 31.|
|LA||Life of Asset: The record is retained until the disposal of the asset.|
|PM||Permanent: A record that possesses enduring legal, fiscal, or administrative value and must be preserved permanently.|
|US||Until Superseded: The record is replaced by an updated version. If a record subject to this retention period is discontinued or is no longer required by law, the date of supersession is the date the decision to discontinue the record is made or the law takes effect. If the record relates to an employee, the date of supersession is the date of termination or the last date the record is needed with reference to the employee, as applicable. For example, an authorization for direct deposit (see Records Series Item Number 3.2.008) would be superseded on the date the last deposit is made under the authorization.|
Nearly every university office generates, receives, or uses records. Computer files of any kind, including drafts and email, are public records. Even if your records are not the official or final versions, your records are public records. Not all records have legal, fiscal, or historical value, but they all must be managed according to the certified records retention schedule.
Records that are subject to a legal hold or litigation hold must not be destroyed until officially released from the hold. A hold is placed when either an official discovery order is served on the university requesting the production of certain records (for a litigation, regulatory investigation, audit, open records request, etc.), or when litigation is pending and the university is on notice to preserve all potentially relevant records. You must ensure that for a claim or litigation that is reasonably foreseeable but has not yet been initiated, any relevant records (in paper or electronic formats) are preserved and not destroyed until released by the Department of Legal Affairs. The records in question must not be destroyed until the completion of the action and the resolution of all issues that arise from it regardless of the retention period set forth in the schedule. If you have any questions contact the Department of Legal Affairs.
A convenience or reference copy is usually a duplicate used primarily for information purposes, routine transmittal copies, and convenience or tickler copies. They do not have ongoing value and should be destroyed after their initial use. They should never be maintained longer than the official record.
A vital record is: any state record necessary to:
- The resumption or continuation of state agency operations in an emergency or disaster
- The recreation of the legal and financial status of the agency
- The protection and fulfillment of obligations to the people of the state
- Dispersal of copies
- On-site storage
- Off-site storage
We provide a variety of services including:
- Certification and maintenance of UTMB's Records Retention Schedule
- Storage and retrieval of inactive records
- Disposition of records using the official Records Retention Schedule
- Consulting with departments on their records management issues
- Training for departments and individuals on records management processes
No. However, record storage boxes must be purchased.
Records stored at the Records Center must appear on the Records Retention Schedule. The records must be inactive, and they must have at least one year remaining before their final disposition date.
No. Non-record materials may not be stored at the Records Center. These materials include reference materials, office supplies, undistributed inventories of publications, or any other item or document that is not a state record.
"Inactive" refers to the level of use. All or most of the activity associated with a file has been completed. Frequent reference is no longer necessary. No additions are required. Records are closed.
Call Materials Management at ext. 21161 and request item number 60471, provide your FRS number, L number, building and room number for delivery. You may also order on-line or at the service counter 14th and Strand.
Records with at least one year remaining on their retention life cycle may be sent to storage, you should:
- Determine storage eligibility by reviewing your departments Records Retention Schedule
- Obtain approval with a Storage Approval form
- Pack the storage boxes according to established procedures. Index the box contents
- Prepare and send the Transmittal of Records Form
- Mail the original forms to Records Management, Route 0918
The department owns the records, as custodians we must manage the records according to the Records Retention Schedule, therefore we must ensure:
- They are labeled correctly
- They are not packed too tightly
- They only contain one Records Series Title per box
- That proper inclusive dates are given on the Transmittal form
- That the information given on the Transmittal Form matches the contents of the box
When the boxes have been inspected and all information has been verified, it usually takes 24 to 48 hours for the boxes to be picked up and delivered to Records Management.
Complete a Records Request Form (RM 204) and fax it to Records Management (747-5910). We will pull the box and have it delivered to you on the next run. If the request is received by 09:45 a.m., the boxes will usually be included in that day's run. Otherwise, they will be delivered the following business day.
Any information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for a governmental body is subject to the Public Information Act. The format (paper, electronic, microfilm, etc.) of the record does not affect its status as a public record.
Yes, citizens have the right to access government records; and an officer for public information and the officer's agent may not ask why they want them. All government information is presumed to be available to the public. Certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of the information.
Not all university records are open to public inspection. Exceptions include: documents containing personal information including social security numbers, home addresses and phone numbers; protected health information in patient records including prescription information; personal education information including students records and copies of transcripts; birth and death certificates; audit work papers; credit card numbers; debit card information; geological and geophysical information; and information regarding competition or bidding.
We have added RESTRICTED ACCESS notations and confidentiality statements in the Remarks column of the schedule.
Yes. Any record that is not confidential by law must be provided when a request is received, whether it is "finished" or not.
Public records are public property. We encourage departments to utilize the services of the UTMB Records Center. The records center is dry, secured, and free from pests and mold. The center is well protected from natural and man-made problems while remaining readily available to your staff.
Yes, TGC §441.138 points out that any record generated in the conduct of the university's business is a public record, "regardless of physical form or characteristics."
The best practice is to destroy all records that have met their retention requirements at the same time, regardless of format. Records in paper and electronic formats that have met their retention period but continue to be kept are still subject to public inspection and litigation/legal holds.
No. Get rid of the paper after quality control measures such as image quality and index accuracy have been verified. A record in electronic form will usually be admissible if it can be shown to be "accurately represented", ie the record must have remained complete and unaltered from the time it was first generated in its final form; apart from minor changes which may arise in the normal course of communication, translation, conversion, storage or display. Where records are required for legal or regulatory purposes, an electronic record is acceptable if it is maintained in an accessible, perceivable form. It must also be accompanied by contextual information (metadata) which substantiates the provenance of the record - confirming the time, place and the person(s) responsible for creating or receiving the record.
E-mail accounts are provided to employees for conducting university business. NOTE: Records, including e-mail, cannot be destroyed if they have been requested under the Public Information Act, or if they are part of potential or on-going litigation, even if their retention has expired, until the request is fulfilled or the case is closed.
E-mail is a tool that is used to exchange messages and documents using telecommunications equipment and computers. A complete e-mail message not only includes the contents of the communication, but also the transactional information (dates and times that messages were sent, received, opened, deleted, etc.; as well as aliases and members of groups), and any attachments. E-mail is often a critical tool that facilitates university business operations.
E-mail messages are public records if they are created or received as part of performing the employee's official duties.
E-mail messages are not the property of employees, vendors or customers. Employees should have no expectation of privacy when using university computer resources.
Employee responsibilities for managing e-mail messages are the same as those for other records.
- Employees are responsible for organizing their e-mail messages so they can be located and used.
- Employees are responsible for using the certified Records Retention Schedule to identify how long e-mail messages must be kept.
- Employees are responsible for keeping e-mail messages for their entire retention period, and for deleting e-mail messages in accordance with the certified Records Retention Schedule.
Yes. Records created in the performance of an official function must be managed the same way as those created and received using university computer resources. If you use your personal account to conduct university business, make certain that the record is managed as part of your university account and deleted from your personal account.
Texas law requires that all records be listed on a certified Records Retention Schedule that identifies how long the records must be kept, when they may be destroyed and when certain records can be sent to the University for permanent preservation. Records cannot be destroyed unless the certified Records Retention Schedule authorizes their disposal.
No. Just like paper records, e-mail records are used to support a variety of university business processes. E-mail messages must be evaluated for their content and purpose to determine the length of time the message must be retained in accordance with the Records Retention Schedule.
Just as in the case of paper records, e-mail messages may be evidence of business decisions and activities. Both senders and recipients of e-mail messages must determine if a particular message should be retained to document their role in university activities.
Transitory messages are records that have very limited administrative value and should be retained until they no longer serve a purpose. Transitory messages do not set policy, establish guidelines or procedures, document a business transaction or become a receipt. NOTE: Records, including e-mail, cannot be destroyed if they have been requested under the Public Information Act, or if they are part of an on-going litigation, even if their retention has expired, until the request is fulfilled or the case is closed.
10. How should I store my e-mail?
Departments have many options for storing e-mail, each of which has benefits and disadvantages. Options include:
A. retain the message within the "live" e-mail system (not recommended)
B. save the message on a network drive in a folder that contains other electronic records that document the business process
C. print the message and file it with other paper records that document the business process
D. store the message in an e-mail archive that is accessed by the e-mail software
Regardless of which option a department selects, a procedure for all staff to follow should be written and distributed to affected individuals.
E-mail messages should be organized in a way that makes them easy to find. See Chapter 8 "Active Records & Filing Systems" in the Records Management Compliance Manual.
Just like paper records, e-mail messages might be subject to disclosure in accordance with the Public Information Act. They can also be subject to discovery once litigation begins. E-mail accounts are provided to employees for conducting university business.
All university employees are responsible for deleting messages in accordance with the Records Retention Schedule. However, deleted messages may be stored on backup tapes for several days, weeks or months after they are deleted. CAUTION - Items that you delete are moved to the Deleted Items folder, but aren't permanently deleted until that folder is emptied. Outlook can be configured to automatically empty the Deleted Items folder, or you should manually empty the folder frequently.
Departments may need to inform information services staff about the existence and location of older messages when technology upgrades and changes take place, so the messages can be migrated to the new technology.
Departments are responsible for ensuring that the e-mail (and other records) of former employees is retained in accordance with approved Records Retention Schedule.
Records should be destroyed according to the policy set forth by the University's approved records retention schedule, unless there is a hold due to anticipated litigation or audit. Each records series listed on your schedule has specific disposition instructions that indicate how long that series must be kept in your office, storage, and total.
The Records Center, with permission from the department, will notify the DRC and destroy records when they are due for destruction or return them to the department.
You will be notified when records are due for destruction. A Records Specialist will send a Disposition Log of Records to request permission to destroy the records. We cannot and will not destroy the records without authorization from the department.
A state record may be destroyed only in accordance with an approved records retention schedule. Prior to disposing of records, call Records Management for assistance. Then complete a Disposition Log of UTMB Records Form (RM 201) and mail the original form to Records Management. If there are no "Legal Holds" or archival requirements on the records, they may be disposed of in one of the following ways: Non-confidential paper records: placed in the appropriate recycling container. Confidential paper records: placed in a secure recycling container. Electronic records: Ensure that:(1) an electronic state record scheduled for destruction is disposed of in a manner that ensures protection of any confidential information; and (2) magnetic storage media previously used for an electronic state record containing confidential information is not reused if the previously recorded information can be recoverable through reuse in any way, when the media passes out of custody of UTMB.
Contact Records Management (7-5900). We will discuss the nature of the records with you to determine if the records have historical value. If the records do not have historical value, we will work with you to complete a form requesting permission from TSLAC to destroy the records. And we will revise your records schedule so that you can continue to destroy the records appropriately.
In your schedule a disposition which states "administrative value" means that you can dispose of these records when your office has no administrative need or the records are no longer required to perform the duties of your office.
Permanent records should be retained by the university forever. Some records will remain in the office of creation and must have a preservation duplicate. In some cases, permanent records should be transferred to the University Archives. Your schedule will indicate when a records series should be transferred or reviewed for possible transfer by the archivist. If you cannot maintain a permanent record in your office, please contact University Archives and Records Service for an evaluation of the records series for transfer.
Probably not. The University Archives accepts transfers of records series as listed on your schedule. The archivist and his staff will review, organize and sort records that require archival review to determine whether they have historical value. Some records may be determined to not have historical value by the archivist and will not be retained and should be securely destroyed once their retention period has been met.
Contact the University Records Management Officer (7-5905) or the University Archivist (2-2397). Arrangements will be made to examine the records and assess their historical value and possible transfer to the University Archives.
University records belong to the university and should not be taken home or given to a historic society or library without the permission of the University Archivist. Records listed as permanent in your schedule must be kept either in your office or the University Records Center.
You may transfer records to University Archives once the records series has met the retention period listed in your schedule. If you have questions contact Records Management (7-5900) or the University Archivist (2-2397).
Vital records are: records containing information that is essential to the survival of the university in the event of a disaster. Vital Records typically make up a small percentage of the vast amounts of the recorded data created by the university - at UTMB approximately only 11% of the Guideline records series are considered vital.
Vital Records will document the university's legal and financial positions and preserve the rights of employees, patients and stakeholders in the event of a disaster. If a Vital Record is lost, damaged, destroyed or otherwise rendered unavailable, that loss becomes a disaster-within-a-disaster, affecting critical operations needed to recover from the initial disaster.
Some common examples include:
- Contracts/agreements that prove ownership of property, equipment, vehicles, products, etc.
- Operational records such as current accounting and tax records, current personnel/payroll records, account histories, and shipping records
- Current client files
- Current standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Produced reports and summaries
- Software source codes (to include both licensed programs and systems and custom developed applications)
A Business Continuity Plan serves as the main resource for the preparation for, response to, and recovery from, a disaster that affects any number of crucial functions at UTMB. We use the records series 5.4.013 "Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plans" on Department Records Retention Schedules for the BCP.
For those university departments that have a published BCP, it provides a method for the protection and preservation of Vital Records.
Products (and services) which increase the protection of Vital Records should be viewed as an investment, not an expense like some other office equipment such as copiers, computers, faxes etc.
The first step is to identify specific risks, such as: facility and equipment hazards that can result in flooding to records storage areas, risky storage practices that increase the risk of fire, and periodic electric storms or hurricanes that could endanger digitally stored Vital Records. With electronic data you also need to consider poor care or storage - simple things such as spilled coffee, poor handling, etc.
Paper and computer media require different levels of protection. Paper is more durable than computer media and can tolerate a wide range of humidity levels and heat up to approximately 400°F before igniting. Computer media such as diskettes, CDs, and tapes cannot survive either the higher temperature or the humidity levels found in the paper rated products. They must be stored in an environment that will stay below 125°F and 80% humidity in order to be protected.
No. Not all records are good candidates for digitization. In many cases, it's cheaper to store paper records than to digitize them.
This thinking, attractive to management because it "seems" cheaper, is erroneous and potentially dangerous. Remember, you're attempting to protect your most vital information assets, and it is highly advisable to seek the highest quality. Price should not be an overriding factor in your decision. It is imperative to seek products that are tested by Underwriters' Laboratory (UL) or other nationally known independent testing labs.
Most departments at UTMB have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to proactively prepare for and address all possible disasters. In general, secure the area, and keep everyone out until fire or other safety professionals allow entry. Then, call Records Management at 409-747-5900 for advice on how to handle damaged records.
We can assist you in appraising the records that have been damaged so that precious resources (and especially time) are not spent on records with lesser value. We can provide lists of professional recovery vendors that you can contact to preserve your essential records.
Our workshops include:
- Records Management - The Basics
- Using the Records Retention Schedule
- Litigation and Records Management
- The University Records Center
- Email Management
- Vital Records Identification and Protection
- Managing Electronic Records
Yes, please contact us at 409-747-5900.
No. Records Management provides assistance to UTMB offices free of charge.
You can contact Records Management at (409) 747-5900 to obtain more information on records management issues, transfers to the Records Center or the workshop schedules.
Contact Logistics • Phone: (409) 772-1161 • Fax: (409) 772-8386
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