VMI Records Management FAQ
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Please contact the VMI Archives for assistance with records management.
We provide secure, on-site bulk shredding services for VMI offices
General Records Management
- What Are Public Records?
A public record is recorded information that documents a transaction or activity by or with any public officer, agency or employee of an agency. Regardless of physical form or characteristic, the recorded information is a public record if it is produced, collected, received or retained in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of public business. The medium upon which such information is recorded has no bearing on the determination of whether the recording is a public record. VMI is a state agency, and its offices and departments are obligated to follow the requirements of the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia, Chapter 7) for retention and disposition of records.
- Employee Responsibility for Records
Every VMI office generates, receives, or uses records. Although you may not have records that are of long-term historical, legal, or fiscal value, they all must be managed according to the state's Records Retention and Disposition Schedules approved by the Library of Virginia. Most records will be destroyed at the end of a specific retention period. However, some offices create records that will be retained permanently in the VMI Archives.
- What is a Retention Schedule?
Records retention schedules list record series (types of records) held by many or most offices instructing the office how long to keep the records in accordance with the Virginia Public Records Act. These schedules are maintained by the Library of Virginia and are known as General Schedules. They are divided into broad categories including administrative records, college and university records, fiscal records, personnel records, and others. GS 111 is the General Schedule for college and university records.
- What if I Have Records Not Listed on a Schedule?
The approved retention schedules contain both broad and specific categories and cover all commonly created records. If you cannot locate a records series (type of records) in the Library of Virginia approved Records Retention and Disposition Schedules, please contact the VMI Archives for assistance. Please provide information about the records, including the name/type, use, if your office is the official keeper of this record or if another office holds the official copy. We will either direct you to the correct records series for the records under question or assist in creating a new records series and obtaining the approval of the Library of Virginia for use.
- My office is running out of filing space. Can I temporarily store material in Archives?
Our space is designed to hold permanent, archival records. In your situation, you should evaluate the records using the retention schedules and complete a certificate of records destruction for the material that has met retention requirements. Some offices have a backlog of non-current/inactive files whose retention requirements have expired. When these records are properly destroyed using the records management procedures, a significant amount of file space can be gained. However, inactive records that are of permanent value should be transferred to the Archives.
- What About Historically Significant and other Permanent Records?
Some offices create records of permanent historical, legal, or administrative value. They should be transferred to the VMI Archives for preservation and cataloging after they become "inactive" (i.e., are no longer needed in your office during the course of business). The Archives staff will review all records transfers to verify their retention status. Please do not place retired permanent records in off-site storage, closets etc., as they may be damaged or lost. Note: Some retention schedules refer to transferring records to the Library of Virginia Archives. This is not done at VMI and other state colleges/universities with institutional Archives on-site. Such records should be sent to the VMI Archives for preservation.
Destruction of Records
- How Long Should I Keep Records?
Required retention times for state agency records are specified in the Library of Virginia's Records Retention Schedules . Retention schedules are simply documents that list types of records (called series) and the length of time they must be retained. Records are destroyed at the end of their required retention period, or lifecycle. It is the content of a record - not the physical format - that determines how long it must be retained. Email, pdfs, and other electronic files are no different than paper documents, and must be retained for the same length of time as is required for their paper counterparts.
- How Do I Get Permission To Destroy Records Once They Have Met the Required Retention Period?
Please follow these instructions.You must complete a Certificate of Records Destruction and have it signed by an administrator in your office, and by the Head of Archives and Records Management.
- I Need to Shred Records - Can You Help?
The Archives provides secure, bulk on-site shredding through a commercial service. If you have records that require shredding and they are ready for destruction, please follow these instructions for transferring the material to the Archives. There is no need to devote valuable staff time to shredding.
Email and Electronic Records Management
- How Long Should I Keep Email and Other Electronic Records?
Retention requirements are based on the content of the record, not the format/medium. Email, pdfs, Word, Excel files etc. are simply formats. Email, for example, is just as much a record as any traditional paper document. If a particular category of records must be retained for 5 years, the same retention period applies whether it is an email, a paper document, a spreadsheet or other electronic file. Just as with paper documents that reside in office file cabinets, individuals are responsible for managing their electronic records according to the provisions in the Public Records Act and state retention schedules. The best practice is to destroy all records that have met their retention requirements at the same time, regardless of format. Electronic records should not be held beyond their approved retention periods. See also this additional information from the Library of Virginia.
- What if I have electronic and paper versions of the same record?
You may destroy one format of the records (either paper or electronic) if you plan to retain the other for the retention periods listed in the schedule. Records that your office holds in both electronic and paper formats, which are exact duplicates, should both be destroyed once they have met the retention periods in the Records Retention Schedules.
- Is there a special form for documenting the destruction of electronic records?
All records are listed on the same form, regardless of format. This example shows both paper and electronic records. Review the Records Retention Schedules and follow the usual instructions for destroying records.