Records Management FAQ
ORC 149.011 (G) "Records" includes any document, device, or item, regardless of physical form or characteristic, created or received by, or coming under the jurisdiction of, any public office of the state or its political subdivisions, which serves to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office.
It is any record created or received by a public office with the few exceptions listed in ORC 149.43 (A) (i.e. medical records, student grade records, personal financial records, records with social security numbers, etc.).
ORC 149.011 (A) "Public office" includes any state agency, public institution, political subdivision, or any other organized body, office, agency, institution, or entity established by the laws of this state for the exercise of any function of government. If you work for any level of Ohio government, you are a public official.
BGSU's Public Records Policy can be found online.
Any record that does not fall under the exceptions to the public records law ORC 149.43 (A) for confidentiality must be made available at cost in a reasonable period of time. Check with your supervisor to familiarize yourself with records in your office that might be confidential. Either refusing to provide access to a public record or releasing personal information protected by law can result in legal problems for you, your office and the University. Your office should have a policy in place regarding records requests, clearly defining which records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or ORC 149.43, and which must be made available to the public.
Public records are the property of the public office and the citizens of Ohio and cannot be removed or disposed of without having an approved retention schedule in place and following proper state and federal guidelines. Penalties for unlawful removal or destruction of records can be up to $1,000 per item.
Explicitly designating what is “original” and who is the “holder of the original” should be a part of the policies or rules that are outlined up front. Designation of an official “holder of the original” saves other offices from filling up their storage space with duplicate information.
Records cannot be disposed of except as provided for by law under the guidance of the university records management program. Each office/department must have an approved records retention schedule before records are destroyed. Ask your supervisor to show you the retention schedule for your department. If there is no retention schedule or if it does not accurately reflect current office work, the University Records Manager can assist you in creating a new schedule.
It is a list of the records in an office including the length of time they must be kept based on state and federal laws, audit procedures and historical value. The Inter-University Council of Ohio’s Records Retention Manual provides guidelines for retention periods. Retention periods range from immediate destruction to permanent retention. The Center for Archival Collections assists offices in identifying the records being created and determining how long they are kept.
Once an approved records retention schedule is in place, records which have met their retention can be disposed. The retention schedule itself will dictate how records must be disposed: recycle, shred, or appraised for historical value. Records that are shred must first be listed on a Certificate of Records Disposal, which must be signed by the office administrator and sent to the University Archives. The Retention Schedule and the Certificate of Records Disposal are the two documents providing the paper trail necessary to demonstrate compliance with Ohio Law. All shredding must be done through Certified Document Destruction, Inc., which must be set up through the University Records Manager.
Records retention requirements apply regardless of storage media. For example, if the retention requirement was “destroy in five years” for the paper record, the same retention applies to the electronic record. Know your office data backup routine. What is backed up when? Where are backups maintained? This can be critical in a disaster situation.
Email is a public record when created on university owned software, hardware, or networks, and during the course of business. It must be treated as paper correspondence, with a retention schedule, and retained until the retention period expires. Email can be kept in folders on your hard drive, on the email server, or transferred to a CD or an external drive. It should be organized for ease of retrieval and for efficient disposition. Email can be hacked, so nothing considered confidential should be in an email. When the time for disposal comes, make sure you have deleted the outgoing, incoming and any other messages be they on your hard drive, shared drive, or both.
A large part of making records and information manageable is collecting and maintaining only what is needed in the first place. What does your department need to document? If you don’t need it, don’t create it. Examine the functions that your department supports. The creation of records should support those functions. Any records falling outside the supported functions should be examined to determine how necessary they are.Consult with the Center for Archival Collections. Records and information are critical University assets. Managing them carefully protects University interests, saves money and will assist your department in meeting its mission.
In compliance with Section 149.33 of the Ohio Revised Code, Bowling Green State University, by the authority of its Board of Trustees, has established a Records Management Program under the jurisdiction of the Center for Archival Collections for the purpose of insuring proper scheduling, storage and disposal of university records. Records Retention for Public Colleges and Universities in Ohio: A Manual (Inter-University Council of Ohio, May 2009) will be used as the basis for Bowling Green State University's Records Management Program. This program is designed to reduce the number of non-current records occupying expensive office space, provide records center storage and access outside the office of origin, eliminate unnecessary duplication of records between offices, offer a systematic method of records destruction and ensure that records with permanent archival value are preserved.
Every office and department on campus is faced with problems of storage space, as well as decisions about which records to keep and which to discard. An ongoing Records Management Program will address these problems, provide for a more economical and efficient means of filing and retrieving records, and protect the university against unnecessary litigation.
After personnel costs, record keeping is the largest expenditure of public offices. Record creation, maintenance, filing, office storage space, filing supplies and equipment all contribute to the high cost of keeping records. Certain strategies can greatly reduce these costs. Dispose of records as soon as legally possible. A small percentage of records are permanent, most having a retention period of ten years or less. Store records with low reference activity in low-cost non-office storage space. Good records management makes records keeping easier and more productive. Having fewer files in the office filing system makes individual records retrieval and refiling easier and more efficient.
Records management reduces nuisance litigation by reducing the quantity of records that attorneys may subpoena through the legal process of discovery. Following records retention schedules assures courts, litigants, and auditors that records are being disposed of properly and in a routine manner, not maliciously or in a capricious way.