Public Record E-Mail Retention and New General Records Schedules
Will Henson, Director, Records Management
As stated in the University’s Policy on Public Records Law and E-Mail, electronic mail messages made or received in connection with the University’s official business which perpetuate, communicate, or formalize knowledge are considered public records under Florida law. As such, E-mail messages are subject to public inspection and can be deleted only in accordance with the University’s records retention schedules.
The Bureau of Archives and Records Management has approved a new record series entitled Transitory Messages . This series is designed to cover certain E-mail communications, as well as other information with short-term administrative value. This series is defined as follows:
- This record series consists of those records that are created primarily for the informal communication of information, as opposed to communications designed for the perpetuation or formalization of knowledge. Transitory messages do not set policy, establish guidelines or procedures, certify a transaction, or become a receipt. The informal nature of transitory messages might be compared to the communication that might take place during a telephone conversation or verbal communications in an office hallway. Transitory messages would include, but would not be limited to: E-mail messages with short-lived or no administrative value, voice mail, self-sticking notes, and telephone messages.
- Retention: Retain until obsolete, superceded, or administrative value is lost.
Rule 1B-24.010(3) of the Florida Administrative Code allows state agencies to dispose of all records with a retention value of, “retain until obsolete, superceded, or administrative value lost”(OSA) without having to fill out a Records Disposition Request. In other words, both duplicates and master copies of records with this retention period may be disposed of by each department when, in the judgement of the department, they are obsolete, superceded, or have lost their administrative value. In applying this rule, any E-mail messages created or received which are Transitory Messages may be deleted at the user’s discretion, under the above standards. However, E-mail messages that are not considered Transitory Messages as previously defined must still be maintained and disposed of in accordance with the Univeristy of Florida’s Policy on Public Records Law and E-Mail.
Effective March 1, 1996, new general records schedules were issued for state agencies and universities by the Bureau of Archives and Records Management. These schedules include several new records series, revisions to some series’ retention periods, and a new unified numbering system for individual records series. A new University of Florida General Records Schedule is being developed that will incorporate these recent changes and include several new schedules developed since March 1995. All offices may continue to use the old Schedule A-3 until the new schedules are distributed.
If you have any questions or comments about E-mail retention, records schedules, or recordkeeping in general, please contact me at 392-4180 or send e-mail to WHenson@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu.