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Going Digital

No. Currently, most records are created or received electronically, and maintaining them in their native electronic format is actually preferred over printing and retaining them in paper. However, be aware that electronic records are governed by the same retention requirements as paper records. When saving electronic records or designing a database you need to consider the retention period of the record and ensure it is accessible and readable for the full retention period. You must also ensure that it can be deleted or wiped at the end of the retention period. Any paper copies are considered duplicates and should not be saved. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at recmgt@uw.edu or 543-0573 to discuss this further.

Yes. Using a third-party vendor to store information in the cloud or using third-party services, such as Moodle, as part of interaction with students does not affect how these records are defined. Even if the records are not in our custody, these records are created on behalf of the University. Therefore, they are public records and may be subject to requests and legal action.

Yes, an eSignature service is now being offered by UW-IT as part of the Enterprise Document Management business service. eSignature capabilities are provided through an enterprise UW license for an online software called DocuSign. It provides the following business functions both electronically and securely: signatures, data collection, approvals, notification and acknowledgement.

For more information and to sign up, see the IT-Connect page on eSignatures.

Yes. Records retention schedules cover all records created or received by University employees, whether in paper or electronic format. Both the state and the federal government define a record as information “regardless of physical form or characteristics”, so by definition, an email, database, or word document is also a record. Since every record has a specific amount of time it must be retained before it can be destroyed, this retention requirement applies to electronic records as well. At the end of the retention period, electronic records should be deleted or transferred to the University Archives (if listed as “Archival” or “Potentially Archival” on a UW Records Retention Schedule).

Please be aware that all records pertaining to ongoing or pending audits, lawsuits (or even reasonably anticipated lawsuits), or public disclosure proceedings are said to be on destruction hold and must not be altered or destroyed until the hold has been lifted and the records have met their retention.

Any records created or received by your office must remain findable and accessible for the full retention period. This is not always straight forward in OneDrive/Google Drive. Keep in mind when using these systems:

  • Use a Google Team Drive or a OneDrive account linked to a departmental UW NetID. This allows you to sidestep the potential loss of documents that can occur when an employee leaves your department.
  • Like any other records repository, set and manage your access permissions in order for others to be able to see and access documents stored in the cloud. This prevents silos that can be lost or forgotten.
  • Incorporate records cleanup into your off-boarding process. Departing employees should delete any records that are past retention and, if using individual accounts, migrate any records with continuing retention to a durable, shared repository.

For more information about the responsibilities inherent in using a third-party cloud service provider, please see our resource on Cloud-Based Applications Best Practices. If you have questions, or would like further clarification, please contact us at recmgt@uw.edu or 543-0573.

An office or department is always welcome to scan records so long as they keep the original paper documents. If you want to scan and destroy the original paper, your office must have a written Scanning Policy on file with our office. To check if you already have a scanning policy, talk to the Records Coordinator in your office or try our Departmental Search webpage – it tells you if you have a departmental retention schedule and/or a scanning policy. If you are still unsure, please contact us at recmgt@uw.edu or 543-0573.

If your office is scanning records into Ariba, EDMS, GCCR, or Workday, please see the University-wide policies

Our office has written a University-wide ARIBA scanning policy for your use. Every office is expected to follow this policy which allows you to dispose of any original paper source documents (as well as any departmental copies of the PDFs) as soon as they have been uploaded to ARIBA.

For those of you with SNAP grants, the use of this policy eliminates the need to keep your own copies of SNAP grant-related financial records in your office.

If you want to scan then destroy the original paper record, your office must have a written Scanning Policy on file with UW Records Management Services. We encourage you to use our Scanning Policy Builder to aid in drafting a departmental scanning policy that meets all University and State requirements.

For state, gift, and endowment budget records see the Financial Records section of the general schedule. For grant and contract budgets see the Research and Grant/Contract Records section. Records viewable in MyFinancial.desktop and Ariba, are managed centrally. Any paper or electronic copies of records you have are duplicates and should not be retained. See Electronic Records that do not need to be printed or saved.

Administrators and PIs are able to electronically ‘sign-off’ on the Reconciliation Report in MyFinancial.desktop. This is the recommended means for demonstrating oversight of fiscal transactions. To view the steps on approving the reconciliation report electronically, go to the MyFd website.