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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

For more information, please refer to our Your Responsibility page.

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, refer to 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, refer to University of Washington Retention Schedules.

These retention periods apply to all electronic records regardless of format including, but not limited to, spreadsheets, Zoom recordings, email, and word documents. For more information, refer to our resources on electronic records.

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. For a list of records that can be destroyed/deleted as soon as they have served their reference purpose, refer to Materials That May Be Disposed of Without a Specific Retention Period.

Some common examples include preliminary drafts, duplicates, scheduling emails, automatically-generated notifications, and routine informational exchanges. These types of records oftentimes constitute a large portion of the records an office or individual receives, but can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from more valuable records. If your office has an overwhelming amount of these types of records, we have a special unit to help with redundant, obsolete and transitory (ROT) materials. You can schedule a consultation with our ROT Squad today or contact us at or 543-0573.

If you have questions or would like further clarification, please contact us at 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 or 543-0573.

If your office is scanning records into the UW-IT Document Management System (DocFinity), GCCR, or Workday (including Workday Finance), you are covered by one of our University-wide policies and do not need to create your own 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 or 543-0573 and we will help you find the appropriate record series and determine how long to keep it.

There are a variety of regulations regarding the privacy of records, and there are a number of offices at the university responsible for policies that oversee confidentiality. Regardless, while assuring the privacy requirements of your records are met, you must still observe the proper retention period outlined in the General Records Retention Schedule. The records must be accessible and readable by individuals with appropriate security clearance until they reach the end of the retention period.

For more information about implementing proper security for your files, please contact the UW Privacy Office.

Our office offers training on a variety of records management topics. Our most recent training materials can be viewed on our website. Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when we roll out new trainings.

If you cannot find the training you are interested in, please contact us at or 543-0573. We also provide customized consultations for individual offices and 1-on-1 meetings via Zoom or video conference platform of your choice.