Handbook of Business Procedures
October 23, 2012
October 23, 2012
Records Management Services
20.6.5. EMAIL RECORDS
Correspondence that is delivered as email for the purpose of conducting official business at The University of Texas at Austin must be managed as an official university record. Email must be categorized by its content and function in accordance with The University of Texas at Austin Records Retention Schedule (UTRRS) and university policy. For example, if a contract is updated via email exchange, the email thread becomes part of the contract files and must be retained in accordance with UT Code AALL570 Contracts and Other Agreements as stated in the UTRRS. On the other hand, if an email is an invitation to an office luncheon, it is categorized as transitory information and is managed in accordance with UT Code AALL083 Transitory Information.
For more information about categorizing email, refer to the following resources:
- 20.6.4. Categories of Correspondence
- Classifying Correspondence
- How to Create an Email Retention Filing System
B. Determining Which Incoming and Outgoing Messages to Retain
The following rules apply to emails that must be retained as official university records:
- If no response is sent via email, retain the incoming message. For example, if a phone call is made in response to an email received, retain the email.
- If a response or a series of responses (a thread) is sent by email, keep the last outgoing email showing the final response, or the last incoming email that shows the final resolution of the correspondence.
- If an email is forwarded to someone else for resolution, retain the forwarding email.
Note: Emails that are categorized as transitory information can be disposed of as soon as their purpose has been fulfilled.
C. How to Retain an Email
- Retain the email in an electronic format. State law requires the retention of transmission data, also known as metadata
(the data describing context, content, and structure of records), to establish the authenticity and integrity of the record.
Data that must be retained includes:
- Name of sender
- Name of recipient/addressee(s)
- Date/time the message was sent
- As with paper records, when an employee departs, it is best practice to transfer email master records to a common folder where they can be managed by the department until the retention requirements are met.
Note: State law regarding electronic records requires that electronic records be individually identifiable and retrievable for the entire retention period. Backup tapes cannot be considered a method of retaining email records unless the backup tape is indexed for individual retrieval.
D. How to Dispose of Emails
All email master records require submission of a Request to Dispose of Records Form by a department to Records Management Services (RMS) prior to deleting the emails. When completing the form, emails must be listed as part of the appropriate category of correspondence or project files. Do not list the email records as a separate category or line item. After receiving authorization to destroy the emails, delete them. For more information, refer to 20.5.4. Destruction Procedures and Form.
Note: It is not necessary to obtain authorization to delete emails categorized as convenience copies or as AALL083 Transitory Records.