|| James Bush
|| Information Technology
|| President’s Cabinet
|Date of Approval:
||May 10, 2016
|Date of Last Revision:
||May 10, 2016
|Next Review Date:
Electronic Mail (email) is a communication tool used throughout the University for both internal and external communication. Email documents and associated attachments are considered public records and therefore can be subject to retention guidelines similar to those for other forms of official records. This policy provides guidance for distinguishing email that is transitory communication and email that can be considered formal public documentation.
Reason for Policy/Purpose
This policy provides guidance regarding record status, retention, and management of electronic mail messages including any attachments. Email is neither private nor secure. Organizing and managing email assures the appropriate use of electronic communications, saves space, provides more efficient access, maintains confidentiality where needed, and reduces legal exposure in discovery proceedings.
Who Needs to Know this Policy
All members of the Heritage community—faculty, staff, students, and contractors—who have a Heritage University email account.
Website Address for this Policy
Vice President for Information Technology James Bush, Bush_J@heritage.edu
Retention. Email messages are subject to the guidelines in RCW 40.14 regulating the preservation and destruction of public records and as such are managed through records retention schedules. Email that is considered to have no administrative, legal, fiscal, or archival requirements for its retention may be deleted as soon as it has served its referenced purpose.
Legal Proceedings. Like other forms of records, and regardless of retention requirements, email pertaining to pending audits, or judicial or public disclosure proceedings must not be destroyed until the issue is resolved.
Back-up. Email should be considered a communication tool, not a storage mechanism. Back-ups are for disaster recovery purposes only. Retention is the responsibility of the sender and receiver of the message, not the back-up process. Back-up copies performed by Information Technology staff are NOT records retention.
Public Records. Public records are defined (per RCW 40.14.010) as “…”public records” shall include any paper, correspondence, completed form, bound record book, photograph, film, sound recording, map drawing, machine-readable material, or other document, regardless of physical form or characteristics, and including such copies thereof, that have been made by or received by any agency of the state of Washington in connection with the transaction of public business…”
Electronic Mail. A document created or received on an electronic mail system, which includes brief notes, more formal or substantive documents, and any attachments that may be transmitted with the message.
The following information should be used to guide Heritage email account holders on what email documents to retain, how and for how long. In general all other email should be deleted as soon as it has been read and/or has appropriate follow-up.
- The vast majority of what you send and receive does not need to be retained for more than two years.
- In most cases, responsibility for retaining an email message falls to the sender.
- Personal or transitory correspondence (Meeting notices, status updates, “There are leftover donuts in the conference room,” and so forth) can be deleted immediately after reading or when no longer useful.
- It is preferable to preserve an attachment you received by email (e.g., a grant application narrative) on your hard drive or network space separate from the original email message.
- Email that can otherwise be destroyed may be retained in order to document activity or for personal reference. Be advised that any message retained is subject to open records and e-discovery procedures.
- Do NOT destroy anything relating to an active (in process or pending) grievance, lawsuit, open records request or audit; retain relevant records until that activity is completed.
Correspondence with grants management office; correspondence with the IRB; correspondence with collaborative researchers/co‐applicants should be treated as general correspondence; retain no longer than two years
Correspondence with granting agencies: Retain no longer than three years after the termination of the grant unless needed to show compliance or otherwise required by the terms of the grant.
Reports, data, papers, etc. do not have to be saved as email, in the email system. Unless the message itself conveys significant information, the attachment/data can be preserved separately, either printed and filed or on your computer/in your network space. Under ordinary circumstances, drafts do not need to be preserved, but final reports are permanent records.
Correspondence re: wait listed students, changes in assignments, changes in class meeting times, grades on particular assignments, extensions, excused absences, extra credit, final grades, etc. should be treated as general correspondence; retain no longer than two years. Some of this data is considered private and protected and should be retained only in a secure place. See the FERPA policy for further guidance.
Note that official copies of final grade information and student status will be maintained by the Registrar.
Notification of meetings, agendas, minutes: Regardless of whether the committee is a departmental, unit‐wide, or University‐wide committee, unless you are the creator of the agenda or minutes, These should be delete once the informational value is gone. If you are the creator, they should be preserved outside of the email system. The minutes of committees that develop and set policy are permanent.
Reports sent as attachments:
If you are the creator (or chair of the committee that is the collective creator), you may preserve the final report outside of the email system, assuming that is where it was created.
Even if it was created within the email system, it may be stored in network space or printed for long term preservation. If you are not the creator of the report, and did not modify it significantly as part of a drafting process, you do not need to retain the report any longer than you need it for reference purposes.
Both personal and those relating to people you supervise may be considered transitory records and deleted when no longer useful.
Note that some of the documents may contain private and protected information. If choose to retain longer for reference purposes do not retain as email. Confidential data in electronic format must be stored on IT-qualified secure equipment in a locked office or room, preferably on University servers. These records shall not be stored on mobile computing devices unless encrypted. See Record Management Policy for confidential data storage guidelines.
Related Policies and Procedures
Records Management Retention Schedule
Information Technology Appropriate Use Policy
FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) Policy
Data Security Policy
Approved on 05/10/2016