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New Employees

As a state agency, the University of Washington is subject to laws regarding public records and transparency. Subsequently, the university, each of its offices, and each and every employee has the legal responsibility to demonstrate the proper care and management of its records. That means:

  1. Keeping the record for the appropriate amount of time (the retention period)
  2. Keeping it in such a way that it is not damaged or destroyed
  3. Keeping it in such a way that it can be found and viewed
  4. Being able to produce copies in the event of litigation, audit, or public records request
  5. Disposing of the records promptly, in an appropriate manner, once the retention period has expired

The state defines a record in RCW 40.14.010. In short, a record is any recorded information, created or received, regardless of:

  • physical format or characteristics,
  • the device (computer) on which it is created or stored, or
  • the owner of the device.

→ For more information, see What is a record?

It is the content, not the medium, which determines the retention obligation of a record. Always apply the retention schedule regardless of format.

Consult the University General Records Retention Schedule and check to see if your department has a supplemental Departmental Records Retention Schedule.

For more information, see University of Washington Retention Schedules.

By the way, these retention periods also apply to email, word documents, and other electronic records. For more information, see our resource on Email Management.

No, there are no exceptions HOWEVER there are several types of records that can be disposed of as soon as they’ve outlived their usefulness. Some common examples include preliminary drafts, duplicates, scheduling emails, automatically-generated notifications, and routine informational exchanges. These types of records often times constitute a large portion of the records an office or individual receives, but can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from more valuable records.

If you have questions, or would like further clarification, please contact us at urc@uw.edu or 543-0573. For a list of records that can be destroyed/deleted as soon as they have served their reference purpose, see Materials That May Be Disposed of Without a Specific Retention Period.

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 urc@uw.edu or 543-0573.

If your office is scanning records into ARIBA, please see the University ARIBA Scanning Policy.

If you can’t find a record series on the General Schedule it is because

  1. the record is no longer being created;
  2. it needs to be added to the schedule;
  3. you might use a different name for this type of record.

Contact us at urc@uw.edu or 543-0573 and we will help you find the appropriate record series and determine how long to keep it.

As there are a variety of regulations regarding the privacy of records, so too are there a number of offices at the university responsible for policies which oversee confidentiality. Regardless, while assuring the privacy requirements of our records are met, we must still observe the proper retention period outlined in our state-approved retention schedules. The records must remain able to be located and viewed by individuals with appropriate security clearance until such time as they can be properly disposed of.

For more information about implementing proper security for your files, please contact the Human Subjects Division for Grant/Contract records or the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer.

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 entered into MyFinancial.desktop, however, are managed centrally. Any paper or electronic copies of records you have are duplicates and be disposed of. See Electronic Records that do not need to be printed or saved.

Our office does offer training on a variety of records management topics. Our most recent training materials can be viewed on our Records Management Training & Guides webpage. Subscribe to our listserv to be notified when upcoming free trainings are offered.

If you do not see the training you are interested in, please contact us at urc@uw.edu or 543-0573. We also provide customized on-site events and 1-on-1 consultations for individual offices.

Check out the rest of our website including our New Employee Resources page. And feel free to ask us questions over email (urc@uw.edu) or by phone (543-0573).