Record Retention Guidelines
Chapter 441, Section 441.183 Texas Government Code, established the State and Local Records Management Division (SLRMD) of the Texas State Library and requires that each state agency develop and maintain an active, continuing program for the economical and efficient management of the records of the agency or institution, including the appointment of an employee performing other administrative duties to act as the Records Management Officer (RMO). The RMO is to comply with the rules, standards and procedures issued by the SLRMD, UH System Administrative Memorandum 03.H.01 Records Retention, and the policy and procedures set forth herein.
In compliance with this requirement:
- All departments shall adhere to the official University of Houston System Records Retention Schedule (UHS RRS), as certified by the Texas State Library when storing or requesting the destruction of state records.
- State records should be disposed of after they have met the required retention period, fulfilled their use and have no further legal, historical, fiscal or research value to the institution. Other considerations such as those cited in Texas Government Code, Chapter 441.187, require that a state record not be destroyed if any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit, open records request, administrative review, or other action involving the record is initiated before the expiration of a retention period for the record set in the approved UHS RRS until the completion of the action and the resolution of all issues that arise from it, or until the expiration of the retention period, whichever is later.
Note: For further information and links to state and system policies, see the Reference section at the end of these guidelines.
- Records Retention Schedule (RRS) – A timetable that identifies the length of time records must be retained in active
and inactive status before final disposition. The official records retention schedule of University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) is published by the University of Houston System (UHS) and is certified by the Texas
State Library and Archive Commission, State and Local Records Management Division.
- State Record – As defined by Government Code 441.180(11), any written, photographic, machine-readable, or other recorded information created
or received by or on behalf of a state agency or an elected state official that documents
activities in the conduct of state business or use of public resources. The term does
- Library or museum material made or acquired and maintained solely for reference or exhibition purposes
- An extra copy of recorded information maintained only for reference
- A stock of publications or blank forms
- Vital Record – Those records that are essential to resume business or continue the university's
operations; the records necessary to recreate the university's financial or legal
position, or to preserve the rights of the university, employees or students. Records
regarded as vital are designated within the Records Retention Schedule (RRS).
- Record Copy – The state record document that is kept on file as an original or official record
for the total retention period. This is not to be confused with "working" or "convenience"
copy, which is a duplicate used for reference purposes. A record is simply recorded
information that has been created or received by the university and has been used
by the university as evidence of its activities or because of the information contained.
Records produced in the workplace are included in the RRS.
- Electronic Mail Record – An electronic document, meeting the definition of a state record, sent or received
in the form of a message on an electronic mail system of a state agency, including
any attachments transmitted with the message.
- Records of Historical Value – Includes important historical documents and other materials that provide evidence
of agency functions or contain information of enduring value to the state of Texas
and its citizens. Only a very small percentage of the records maintained by a state
agency have historical value. Such records are usually listed in the RRS and are required
to be transferred to the UH-Clear Lake Library for archival preservation after they
are no longer needed in the school or department; other records may be subject to
archival review for historical or other value by Library staff before disposal. These
records become "archives" when their period of required use by the originating agency
ends. The State Archives and Informational Services Division maintain generic descriptions
of records of historical archival value.
- Duplicate Records/Convenience Copies/Working Copies – Records where the original documents exist in another area or are in the possession of another department and includes such records as voucher copies, monthly automated budget reports and similar.
Records Retention Schedule (RSS)
Records Retention Schedule (RRS)
The university RRS was created by the University of Houston System (UHS) for use by all University of Houston (UH) components and is periodically reviewed and re-certified by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
The retention schedule lists the required minimum length of time that listed records series must be retained before destruction or archival preservation. In accordance with UHS policy, these times are also recommended as appropriate maximum retention periods.
UHCL Records Management Liaison (RML)
- Serves as campus liaison to UHCL departments, UHS records retention staff and the Texas State Librarian's Office in matter involving records retention.
Although departments are encouraged to use available electronic technologies to increase efficiency and improve the methods to process, handle, retrieve, transmit and retain university records and information, electronic records must be retained and disposed of in accordance with the university's approved Record Retention Schedule (RRS). All official correspondence and business records are subject to the record retention policy whether in electronic or other format.
The time table for the retention of records is based on the content of the records and not the medium used for the storage of information. Therefore, records stored electronically, on the network, hard disk of a computer, magnetic tape, or in other electronic format shall be maintained in accordance with the official records retention schedule. Departments shall notify the UHCL Record Management Office (RMO) if the medium for storing the official or record copy of any record is changed from one media type to another (i.e. from paper to electronic format as shown on the records retention schedule). All changes of this nature must be reflected in the RRS for the next re-certification.
The original hardcopy source documents that were converted into electronic documents can be destroyed after a minimum of three months have passed since the conversion and the department is confident that the conversion has been completely successful. In the interim, hardcopy source documents should be held at the department.
Electronic Mail (email)
Email messages must be retained or disposed of according to the UHS RRS. However, email systems must meet the retention requirements found in Texas Administrative Code, Title 13, Part 1, Chapter 6, Subchapter C, Rule §6.94(e). Email generally falls into several common record series categories. These are:
- Administrative Correspondence, 1.1.007 - Incoming/outgoing and internal correspondence, in any format, pertaining to the
formulation, planning, and implementation, interpretation, modification, or redefinition
of the programs, services or projects of an agency and the administrative regulations,
policies and procedures that govern them. Subject to archival review. Retention: three
- General Correspondence, 1.1.008 - Non-administrative incoming/outgoing and internal correspondence, in any media,
pertaining to or arising from the routine operations of the policies, programs, and
services, or projects of an agency. Retention: one year.
- Transitory information, 1.1.057 - Records of temporary usefulness that are required only for a limited period of
time for the completion of an action by an official or employee of the agency. Transitory
records are not essential to the fulfillment of statutory obligations or to the documentation
of agency functions. Temporary or transitory email communications are fulfilled almost immediately upon
receipt and may be destroyed after the immediate purpose of that record has been fulfilled.
Examples of temporary or transitory email include:
- University wide communications.
- Drafts/revisions of documents.
- Meeting reminders.
- Deadline reminders.
- Routing messages.
- Reading materials.
- Reference materials.
- FYI emails of information that does not require a response.
- Other routine messages used for communication but not for documentation of any specific transaction.
Personal email exchanges (the personal exchange of communication) are not covered by the State of Texas RRS. However, personal emails stored on state equipment are subject to discovery under the Public Information Act and by legal subpoena. Examples of personal emails include:
- Family messages.
- Commercial mailings.
Caution - Generally, employees should not consider email to be private. Email, including personal and other temporary or transitory email stored on state equipment/systems is subject to legal discovery under the Public Information Act. Retention of unnecessary email can be used in future litigation. Unnecessary emails (those not meeting the definition of a state record) have to be deleted from both the inbox and again from the deleted items folder the day received to be truly erased from the server. If someone sends you an email today and you still have it tomorrow, then it has been backed up on the server and you can no longer guarantee that it is fully destroyed.
Records Destruction Procedures for Duplicate or Convenience Copies
- Departments may destroy records that are considered duplicate records, convenience
copies or working copies after retaining for the minimum period (one year after the
close of the fiscal year or origination) without requesting authorization or going
through Records Management.
- Any questions regarding the classification of these types of records should be directed
to Business Services before final action is taken.
- Department's may request Business Services to dispose of these records by completing
Request for Disposal of Duplicate or Convenience Record Copies Form (Attachment B).
Business Services will then arrange pickup and disposal by one of the following methods:
- If the records are classified as "confidential", or are security sensitive (contain personal information such as SSN, birth dates, etc.) they will be shredded.
- All others will be discarded without further preparation.
- At the discretion of the Archives, records may be destroyed by outside vendors. In that instance, the actual charges will be billed back to the department.