Are electronic documents and information records?

Yes! Any information created or received by the University of Washington is considered a record, regardless of physical format or characteristic.

Examples of electronic records include: emails, websites, Word/Excel documents, digital purchase receipts, databases, text messages, social media postings, and information stored on SharePoint sites and content management systems (Catalyst, Slack, DropBox, etc.). Electronic records must be retained according to a legally approved records retention schedule. Electronic records have the same record series (type of record) and retention period as their paper equivalent. This includes records stored in email, shared drives, the cloud, on laptops and cell phones, even ones created on personally-owned devices.

If your office scans records with the intention of destroying the original paper document (including Ariba attachments), you must have a scanning policy on file with our office. Click here to learn more.

Storing Electronic Records

Electronic records should be stored in a repository that is:

  • Backed up regularly
  • Compliant with all privacy and security requirements
  • Network or cloud based and allows for shared access
  • Organized in such a way that records can be identified and purged appropriately
  • Able to migrate content to a new system upon replacement
  • Maintained through regular software updates

Managing Electronic Records

Every UW employee is individually responsible for maintaining records they create and recieve in accordance with University and Washington state policies - including electronic records and email. Whether you just started at the University or have been here for years, managing records is a fact of life. But don't worry - you're not on your own! Records Management Services has resources and training available to assist you.


For more information on storing, organizing, and managing electronic records, check out our Fetch the Future Hub as well as our other resources.