Frequently Asked Questions
What is Records Management?
Records management is the systematic control of records during their entire life cycle from creation, through processing, distribution, receipt, organization, storage, retrieval to disposition, for the purpose of improving the efficiency of record keeping, ensuring adequate protection of the records, and ensuring access to public information. Records management seeks to meet operational business needs and accountability requirements along a records continuum from design to disposition.
What are the benefits of participating in this program?
- Organized files
- Ability to find materials quickly and reliably
- More office space
- More efficient use of space
- Lower costs
- Compliance to Texas State law and TAMU System Rules
- Better decision-making based on complete, reliable and authoritative information
- Accountability and responsibility for maintenance of records at the appropriate levels
What is the difference between open and confidential records?
An open record is one which may be viewed by anyone under the Freedom of Information Act and Open Records Act. A confidential record can only be viewed by those persons with proper authorization.
What is the difference between public and private (personal) records?
A public record is one created or received in the course of work that documents some aspect of University business. A personal record pertains solely to an individual's own affairs. As an employee of the State of Texas, any documents created during work time or using university equipment or supplies are technically public records, including email.
What is a Retention Schedule?
A retention schedule is a listing of records and records series commonly found in the workplace that lists the minimum length of time these items must be retained in order to comply with state or federal laws, statutes, or judicial rulings, or recognized industry best practices.
Who makes up the Retention Schedule?
The retention schedule for Texas A&M University is approved by the TAMU System and is certified by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Changes or additions to the basic schedule can be recommended by the departments and individuals who use the records on a daily basis. Contact the Records Center to have your recommendations forwarded to the System Reconds Management Officer. The TAMU Records Retention Schedule can be found at http://www.tamus.edu/assets/files/legal/pdf/RecordsRetentionSchedulRecertified12Jan2012.pdf.
What if I can't find what I am looking for on the retention schedule?
Contact University Records Management for assistance. A retention schedule is never a totally comprehensive listing of all records that exist at an organization, especially not one as large and complex as the University. The Records Management office can help you find the proper series title for your records, or we can tell you the steps involved in getting records added to or changed on the retention schedule.
What is a Records Inventory?
A records inventory identifies what kinds of records are created or received in a particular area. It describes the function, content, use and format of each records series. During an inventory, the records manager also determines workflow, whether the records found are original records or convenience copies, and the administrative, legal, fiscal, or historical value of the records.
What is a Records Series?
A records series is a group of records commonly used or filed together which are evaluated as a group for retention scheduling.
Who can use the services of University Records Management?
Any University department can use the records storage or destruction services. System agencies such as TEES, TEEX, or AgriLife should contact their respective records officers. A list of records officers is located at http://tamus.edu/offices/records/retentionofficers/.
How do I pack boxes?
It is recommended that you limit the contents of any box to a single record series or to series having the same retention period. We do not pull individual records from the boxes for destruction- the box contents are all destroyed at the same time. We will use the longest retention period and the latest date to determine the destruction date. Boxes do not have to be completely full to send them to the Records Center. The Records Storage boxes are designed to hold either letter or legal sized materials. When packing the box, it is recommended that you remove paper clips, metal clips, binders, bindings, and file folders. This will save you office supplies, will save space in the box, and will speed processing when the box is due for destruction.
When can records be destroyed?
Original records can be destroyed once the recommended retention period has passed, as long as there are no legal, administrative, audit, or historical holds on the material. Duplicate records should not be kept any longer than originals.
How can the department get records destroyed?
Records can be sent to the University Records Center for shredding using a Records Destruction Form. Records can also be disposed of in the department itself or by a commercial shredding company. Please complete the Records Destruction Form and mark "Request for Departmental Destruction." Send the completed form to the Records Center for approval prior to destroying the records.
Are there any charges for using the University Records Center?
At this time, there are no charges for any of our services.
What kind of boxes does the Records Center accept?
There are 2 types of boxes used in the Records Center: a 1.2 cubic foot box for regular files (Office Max # P5OM97213) and a box designed for checks and vouchers. Permafile boxes, copier paper boxes, and other non-standard boxes are not accepted for records storage. Boxes should weigh no more than 35 lbs. when packed to prevent injury.
Where is the University Records Center?
The Records Center is located in Room 160 of the Purchasing and Stores Building (#957) at 330 Agronomy Rd.
How can I send records to the Records Center for storage?
You can either call or email the Records Center for pickup of materials, or you can deliver them directly to Room 160 of the Purchasing & Stores building. Each box you send to storage needs to be assigned a unique number on the box and on the Records Storage Form. Please keep a detailed description of the contents of the boxes you send to the Records Center in case you need to retrieve documents.
Can the department get the boxes back once they are sent to the Records Center?
Authorized persons from the department can request to have boxes returned to the department or they can come to the Records Center to pull material from the boxes themselves to either take back to the department or view in the Records Center. Contact the Records Center by phone or email with the box number(s) you need. With advance notice, we can have the boxes ready in our viewing area when you arrive.
Does anyone else have access to our records?
No one opens boxes in the Records Center unless given authorization by the department. All employees of University Records Management sign a non-disclosure agreement and must pass security clearance. The Records Center itself is a secure area with security cameras, motion detectors, and an alarm system.
How do I contact University Records Management?
University Records Management is open 8am - 5pm weekdays on the same schedule as the University. The phone # is 458-1470 and our email address is RMDesk@library.tamu.edu.
Does the department have to use the University Records Center?
No. Records storage and disposal can be handled by the department or a commercial vendor as long as you adhere to the TAMU System Records Retention Schedule. The destruction of all University official records needs to be approved by the Records Officer, however. At this time, the University Records Center does not have the capability to provide proper in-house storage for non-paper media, such as tapes or microforms.
Texas State Law mandates that each state agency and local government entity shall have an on-going and active records management program. Texas Penal Code 37.10, Tampering with Governmental Records, states the penalty for destroying governmental records is a Class A misdemeanor, but, depending on circumstances, could be as severe as a 2nd degree felony.
What about electronic records?
Electronic records fall under the same guidelines as paper records. This includes any media available and in use by the department, such as personal computers, lap top computers, disks, CDs, tapes, microfilm, microfiche, etc. Electronic records can be on a hard drive application, such as a word processing program, a LAN or WAN, and also includes email sent or received in the course of business. The Texas State Library has strict guidelines for electronic and microfilmed records (see http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/slrm/recordspubs/)