UNIVERSITY RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSITION POLICY
The University seeks to ensure access to past, present, and future public records and preserve vital information generated by the University through an approved records management and retention program utilized across the University. Records management includes techniques such as determining retention periods, providing storage and access to permanent records, and disposal of records through either approved destruction or through transfer to the University Archives located in McCain Library and Archives.
Reason for Policy/Purpose
The Records Retention and Disposition Policy is designed for the following reasons: 1) to protect the corporate and institutional memory of the University’s activities by caring for University records from their creation through preservation or other disposition; 2) to provide economy and efficiency by relieving the University’s offices and departments of the cost and burden of maintaining valueless records; and 3) to comply with applicable federal law and state law, in particular Mississippi Code Ann. § 25-59-1 et seq., and the related rules and procedures of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) and the State Records Committee.
Who Needs to Know This Policy
All employees of The University of Southern Mississippi.
Website Address for this Policy
1.0 University Records
1.1 The University of Southern Mississippi (University) is considered to be a Mississippi government agency and therefore is a public body subject to the Mississippi Public Records Act, Miss. Code Ann. § 25-61-1.
1.2 As a government agency, the University is subject to the Mississippi Archives and Records Management Law of 1981 set forth in Miss. Code Ann. § 25-59-1 et seq. This law authorizes record retention schedules for government agencies in order to preserve records.
1.3 All University records are the property of The University of Southern Mississippi regardless of their physical location, even when they are in the possession of individuals, and as such, may not be permanently removed from the University nor destroyed except in accordance with this policy.
1.4 A University record means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings or other materials regardless of physical form or characteristics (including electronic records, mail or data) made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by the University.
1.5 A University record does not include:
a. Books, periodicals and other published material normally found in a library;
b. reference materials, stocks of publications and brochures, quasi-official notices, unsolicited announcements, invitations, or other materials not filed as evidence of office or University operations;
c. preliminary drafts, work copies or informal notes of finalized documents;
d. routing slips and telephone call slips;
e. duplicate copies of official documents kept for convenience or reference;
f. tapes of transcribed documents;
g. letters of transmittal that do not alter the transmitted information; and
h. envelopes, blank forms and templates (stock on hand).
1.6 All University records are retained in accordance with all federal and state laws/regulations and this policy.
1.7 All University employees are responsible for ensuring that University records are created, used, maintained, preserved and destroyed in accordance with this policy.
1.8 No one may deliberately alienate, alter, or falsify, any University record.
1.9 The unauthorized taking, destruction, removal or use of any University record is prohibited.
2.0 Roles and Responsibilities
2.1 The University’s Records Retention and Disposition Policy and its related procedures and records retention schedules will be administered by the Provost through the Dean of University Libraries or his/her designee.
2.2 Each University academic and administrative unit shall designate a liaison responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy. The liaison is expected to monitor this policy and its related procedures and retention schedules.
3.0 Retention of University Records
3.1 Records should be retained, transferred, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of as indicated on a Records Retention Schedule (Schedule).
3.2 A Schedule shall identify all functional groups of records in an office or department and assign a life cycle to their maintenance and disposition. In other words, the Schedule specifies the length of time each type of University record shall be retained. Retention periods reflect the legal, administrative, fiscal, and historical value of the information in a record.
3.3 Schedules must be initially prepared by or submitted to the University Libraries so that records may be appraised for their informational value and Schedules can be prepared for submission to the State Records Committee and the MDAH for review and approval and in accordance with MDAH rules and procedures.
3.4 The University Libraries shall create and use a standard form for transmitting all Schedules listing and describing approved retention periods applicable to all University academic and administrative units, offices, and departments. The University Libraries shall also retain a centralized copy of all such Schedules and related transmittals and communications received from MDAH.
3.5 In consultation with legal counsel and appropriate University parties, and in accordance with MDAH rules and procedures, the University Libraries may directly issue General Schedules regarding frequent, normal disposal of certain routine internal records and copies of records common to many University offices and departments.
3.6 The University Libraries will provide offices and departments with written notice of approval or modification of any Schedule.
3.7 All offices and departments should regularly (i.e., at least annually) use and monitor their approved Schedules. Schedules may be amended, added to, or otherwise changed by contacting the University Libraries.
3.8 University records are to be reviewed periodically to determine if they are active or inactive. Inactive records are those records consulted infrequently and are no longer needed to conduct current business. University records that are no longer required as active will be reviewed and assessed either for off-site or electronic storage or, if the retention period required by the Schedule has lapsed, for destruction. Documents that do not meet the definition of a University record and duplicate materials are to be destroyed rather than sent to storage.
3.9 Each department/school shall determine the best method of storage for both active and inactive University records. In all cases, however, University records are to be stored in appropriately secured areas.
3.10 For those University records of long-term value that require continued retention or preservation, the University Libraries may provide some services:
a. Storage and reference services for permanent and/or vital records in the University Libraries’ Archives facilities;
b. Assistance to University offices and departments with special records needs, including consultations regarding proposed storage locations and facilities.
4.0 Disposal of University Records
4.1 Upon receiving the first written notice of approved Schedules, the department head or its liaison should perform a review to determine the value or usefulness of departmental records. During this review, the department head or its liaison should identify and designate for disposal, destruction, or transfer to an archive, the records with lapsed retention periods that are no longer useful.
4.2 When the retention period for a particular University record (regardless of storage medium) expires, as specified in the Schedule,the University records may be destroyed in accordance with this policy.
4.3 Records must be destroyed in a manner that ensures confidentiality and renders the information no longer recognizable as a University record. Approved methods of destroyed University records include, but are not limited to, shredding, burning, pulping, pulverizing, and magnetizing. University records cannot be placed in trash receptacles unless the University records are rendered no longer recognizable as a University record.
4.4 Exiting or transferring employees must turn over all records to their successors and/or manager. Managers should remind employees who are about to transfer to another department or leave University employment of this fact.
5.0 Disposal of Paper Records After Transfer to Other Media
5.1 Compact storage methods, such as copying or converting paper copies to digital images, provide a space saving and often cost efficient means of storing records originally in paper form. Extreme care should be taken when transferring information to an alternate electronic storage medium or converting documents to any other automated records processing system.
5.2 The stored electronic documents must be retained for the minimum retention period under the Schedule.
5.3 Upon converting paper documents to a stored electronic medium, the original paper records may be destroyed provided the following are met:
a. The digital or stored electronic document accurately copies, creates, or recreates the original record; and
b. The digital or stored electronic document can be produced in easily readable form throughout the retention period required by the Schedule.
6.0 Litigation and Other Exceptions to Retention Schedule
6.1 Regardless of the particular Records Retention Schedule, any University record or other document (whether hard copy or electronic) that is relevant or potentially relevant to pending litigation or to any matter that is reasonably likely to result in litigation must be retained until such litigation or potential litigation is fully and finally resolved or closed. The University Office of General Counsel will distribute a memorandum to all appropriate personnel when litigation commences or is imminent, advising of the pendency of an action, the subject of the action and the designation of University Records to be maintained outside the specified retention period. Records subject to such notice are to be retained until notice has been received from General Counsel authorizing disposal.
6.2 Regardless of the particular Records Retention Schedule, any University record or other document (whether hard copy or electronic) that is relevant or potentially relevant to any pending government investigation, survey, or inquiry or to any matter that is reasonably likely to result in a government investigation, survey or inquiry must be retained until such investigation, survey or inquiry is fully and finally resolved or closed.
7.0 Further Guidance on Record Retention
7.1 All questions or concerns concerning this policy should be directed to the University Curator of Historical Manuscripts and Archives or the Dean of University Libraries or his/her designee.
The Dean of University Libraries or his/her designee is responsible for the review of this policy every four years (or whenever circumstances require immediate review).
Mississippi Archives and Records Management Law of 1981, Mississippi Code Ann. § 25-59-1, et seq.
Mississippi Public Records Act, Miss. Code Ann. § 25-61-1, et seq.
Amendments: Month, Day, Year – summary of changes