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Guideline #6: Records Responsibilities of UWM Staff
More likely than not, you create records as a part of your daily work.
Crucial to your work and to the work of the campus is the appropriate management
of records that you create and are related to your job responsibilities. We all
have a stake in making sure records are efficiently and well managed so that
UWM’s administrative, legal, audit, and historical interests are served.
Furthermore, we all run the risks of exposure, legal liabilities and costs that
are associated with poor or inadequate records management practices.
of business transactions
for the decision making process
of UWM programs, activities and events
for future historical research.
Information technology has had significant impact on the record keeping
process. The consolidated subject file or case file stored in the department
office file cabinets is no longer the mainstay of record keeping. Technology
makes it more challenging to ensure that a complete, accurate and reliable
record is maintained. "Records" are frequently the compilation of a number of
different data elements from databases, or they come from varying locations or
media. Record keeping is not easy and provides many challenges.
Technology has effectively made all of us records managers. It is our
responsibility to abide by University policies and procedures relating to
records and information. This informational brochure outlines basic
responsibilities for the management of records and information regardless of
media. It also identifies where you can go for more information or
The information below is intended to provide UWM staff with help in managing
their work-related records.
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- The records you create and maintain as part of your job responsibilities
belong to UWM and the State of Wisconsin.
- You need to manage your records and information in accordance with state
and Federal regulations. All University records, for example, are subject to
provisions of Wisconsin Statutes relating to records retention scheduling.
- UWM’s records must be properly managed regardless of their format. There
is no legal distinction between paper, electronic, and any other format of
- You should know which records are your responsibility to manage, and you
should know where in your office environment they are. Be able to identify and
locate your records if they need to be examined.
- You should
establish consistent filing practices, and stick to them. Make sure that you
separately identify and segregate private or personal information in both paper
and electronic files.
information on a regular basis in accordance with established retention
policies. Be familiar with the records schedules that apply to records that you
or your department create. Check the UWM Records Management homepage for
retention information or call the campus records officer if you are uncertain
whether your records are covered by a retention policy.
- As the time
period between major technology platform shifts continues to decrease, you will
need to be increasingly prepared to migrate, or move forward, any records or
information with long-term value to you or your department when these platform
How to Approach Your Office’s Records
Apply this strategy regardless of
record format or storage media used.
- Determine if the document is a record.
- Wisconsin Statutes 16.61 defines public records as any “books, papers, maps, photographs, films, recordings,
optical disks, electronically formatted documents or other documentary
materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made, or received by
any state agency or its officers or employees in connection with the transaction
of public business, and documents of any insurer that is liquidated or in the
process of liquidation under ch. 645.”
- The statute also identifies certain broad categories of materials as
non-records. Such materials may be destroyed without seeking guidance from the
UWM Libraries or authorization from the Wisconsin Public Records Board.
Identifying non-records narrows the focus of records appraisal and facilitates
disposal/deletion of a vast quantity of records and information.
- Identify the official record copy.
- The ‘official record’ is the copy that will be managed for the prescribed
retention period. Identification of the individual responsible for managing the
official copy enables all other staff members to destroy/delete their copies as
needed, thus freeing up valuable disk and file cabinet space.
- E-mail and other electronic information systems have encouraged the
proliferation of copies. Determine which e-mail is the official copy. If the
official record resides on a Local Area Network, determine who will be
responsible for shared directories and which directories will hold the record
- Implement existing retention policies.
- For many categories of University records, retention policies, known as
schedules, or RDAs (Records Retention/Disposal Authorizations), already exist.
Apply those retention schedules not only to records in file cabinets but also to
the folders and directories that you have established within your PC directory
and e-mail systems.
- Understand the records-related capabilities of your PC's office product
software. Familiarize yourself with storage technologies used by your
- Generally, word processing software includes some type of directory/foldering
capability. You should develop consistent filing structures and practices using
that capability. Talk with others in your department, and develop consistent
practices department-wide. This can aid access and retrieval and be a valuable
- Similarly, use the capabilities of your e-mail system to establish folders,
directories, and sub-directories for the daily management of your e-mail.
Establish folders and directories that correspond to established filing
structures within your office as well as approved retention schedules. Ideally,
e-mail messages that pertain to a particular topic or subject should be
transferred to the particular filing systems containing that topic or subject.
- Alternatively, consider storing record copies of e-mails in the same
directories as record copies of other e-documents (text files, spreadsheets,
- Dispose of records appropriately.
- Records disposition requires an approved records retention schedule. Records
disposition can take several forms. It may mean transferring the records to the
UWM Libraries for permanent preservation. More often, it means physical
destruction of the records.
- Destruction of non-confidential records can be accomplished by merely placing
them in recycling containers after the approved retention time has been
satisfied. Greater care should be taken with confidential records; these records
must be destroyed separately from non-confidential records. There are a number
of locked bins at various locations on campus in which these records can be
placed. Please visit the UWM Records Management website for the list of
- Destruction/deletion of electronic records, like that of paper records, can
only occur under the authority of an approved records retention schedule. An
additional important consideration with regard to electronic records is that
deletion must be applied to all backup copies as well. If the backup copies are
not destroyed, they remain subject to legal and audit actions. Also, be aware
that during legal or audit actions, relevant retention schedules are suspended
and the records covered under those schedules cannot be destroyed.
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What responsibilities, if any, do I have in the preservation of
historical materials from my department?
The Archives has identified certain record series as having enduring
historical value. All records created and maintained by your employing
department should be covered by approved retention schedules that designate
which records have long-term or historical value and should be transferred to
the Archives for preservation.
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Upon Leaving Your University Position
- Check with your supervisor regarding any official University records that
fall within the scope of your responsibilities and confirm their proper
- Identify active records with directory locations for your successor.
- Seek guidance from the UWM Libraries on the disposition of faculty/academic
staff personal papers. The Archives is particularly interested in documenting
major programmatic and research developments on campus, as well as other
significant events relating to the history of the University.
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Questions about anything on this site? Email the Records Officer or call Records Management at (414)-229-6979.