University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries
University of Georgia Libraries
hargrett library :: records management :: electronic records policy

Electronic Mail (E-mail) & Electronic Records

Electronic mail created or received by University of Georgia employees in connection with official business is subject to the state record laws and the retention requirements of the Board of Regents. Just because such communication is transmitted digitally and easy to delete does not keep it from being an official record.

Electronic records bring new challenges to your role as a records manager. Even with careful storage, current magnetic and optical storage options cannot begin to match the life of properly stored acid-neutral paper or microfilm. This may not matter if the material has a short record life according to the retention schedules, provided the medium is carefully stored during its useful life, safe from potential destruction or deterioration. Preservation of the data, however, may not even matter if the machinery and software required to read it are not available in the future.

Just as the electronic record can be difficult to preserve, it can also be difficult to destroy when its retention schedule has been met. Simply hitting a delete key may not actually remove all trace of a record. Careful planning is needed to be certain that private information, such as that protected by FERPA, is not inadvertently released though inadequate protection or destruction of electronic records.

If contemplating a move from paper to electronic records, be certain that your electronic records can meet current standards for preservation, security, privacy and any other legal requirements. The following list contains a few of examples of what should be considered when the decisions to go from a paper 'record copy' to an 'electronic paper copy'. (Examples provided by Annette Evans, UGA Procurement Department in 2010. We will be happy to share her complete process upon request.):

  • Types of files (personnel, check request, etc) that will be stored electronically and for how long.

  • Ensure that the documents produced by the electronic system will be admissible in a court of law.

  • The records are stored in a manner that can be easily found and accessed.

  • A regularly updated backup that is stored in a safe location.

  • For flexibility, choose an electronic format that can be easily transferred to other document imaging platforms if necessary.

While we certainly are not technological experts, the UGA Records Management Program is always available to discuss electronic records issues.