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Records Retention

Section: General Index: A-36


Chapter 441, Section 441.183 Texas Government Code, established the State and Local Records Management Division (SLRMD) of the Texas State Library and requires that each state agency develop and maintain an active, continuing program for the economical and efficient management of the records of the agency or institution, including the appointment of an employee performing other administrative duties to act as the Records Management Officer (RMO). The RMO is to comply with the rules, standards and procedures issued by the SLRMD, UH System Administrative Memorandum 03.H.01 Records Retention, and the policy and procedures set forth herein.

In compliance with this requirement:

Note: For further information in links to State and System Policies see Reference section at the end of this Policy.


  1. Records Retention Schedule – A timetable that identifies the length of time records must be retained in active and inactive status before final disposition. The official records retention schedule of UHV is published by the University of Houston System and is certified by the Texas State Library and Archive Commission, State and Local Records Management Division.
  2. State Record – As defined by Government Code 441.180(11), any written, photographic, machine-readable, or other recorded information created or received by or on behalf of a state agency or an elected state official that documents activities in the conduct of state business or use of public resources. The term does not include:
    1. Library or museum material made or acquired and maintained solely for reference or exhibition purposes
    2. An extra copy of recorded information maintained only for reference
    3. A stock of publications or blank forms
  3. Vital Record – Those records that are essential to resume business or continue the university’s operations; the records necessary to recreate the University’s financial or legal position, or to preserve the rights of the university, employees or students. Records regarded as vital are designated within the Records Retention Schedule.
  4. Record Copy – The state record document that is kept on file as an original or official record for the total retention period. This is not to be confused with “working” or “convenience” copy, which is a duplicate used for reference purposes. A record is simply recorded information that has been created or received by the university and has been used by the university as evidence of its activities or because of the information contained. Records produced in the workplace are included in the Records Retention Schedule.
  5. Electronic mail record – An electronic document, meeting the definition of a state record, sent or received in the form of a message on an electronic mail system of a state agency, including any attachments transmitted with the message.
  6. Records of Historical Value – Includes important historical documents and other materials that provide Evidence of agency functions or contain information of enduring value to the state of Texas and its citizens. Only a very small percentage of the records maintained by a state agency have historical value. Such records are usually listed in the records retention schedule and are required to be transferred to the UHV Library for archival preservation after they are no longer needed in the school or department; other records may be subject to archival review for historical or other value by Library staff before disposal. These records become “archives” when their period of required use by the originating agency ends. The State Archives and Informational Services Division maintain generic descriptions of records of historical archival value.
  7. Duplicate Records/Convenience Copies/Working Copies – Records where the original documents exist in another area or are in the possession of another department and includes such records as voucher copies, monthly automated budget reports and similar.


Records Retention Schedule

The university records retention schedule was created by the University of Houston System for use by all UH components and is periodically reviewed and re-certified by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
The retention schedule lists the required minimum length of time that listed records series must be retained before destruction or archival preservation. In accordance with UHV policy, these times are also recommended as appropriate maximum retention periods.
Records Management Officer (RMO) Appointment and Responsibilities
The RMO has the following responsibilities:

Electronic Records

Although departments are encouraged to use available electronic technologies to increase efficiency and improve the methods to process, handle, retrieve, transmit and retain university records and information, electronic records must be retained and disposed of in accordance with the University’s approved Record Retention Schedule. All official correspondence and business records are subject to the record retention policy whether in electronic or other format.

The time table for the retention of records is based on the content of the records and not the medium used for the storage of information. Therefore, records stored electronically, on the network, hard disk of a computer, magnetic tape, or in other electronic format shall be maintained in accordance with the official records retention schedule. Departments shall notify the UHV RMO if the medium for storing the official or record copy of any record is changed from one media type to another, i.e. from paper to electronic format as shown on the records retention schedule. All changes of this nature must be reflected in the Records Retention Schedule for the next re-certification.

The original hardcopy source documents that were converted into electronic documents can be destroyed after a minimum of three months has passed since the conversion and the department is confident that the conversion has been completely successful. In the interim, hardcopy source documents should be held at the department or can be transferred to local storage by submission of Records Disposition Request (Attachment A) to Business Services.

Retention Requirements For Original Documents Uploaded To The Finance System

All original documents and files that are scanned and uploaded to the Finance system (i.e. hard copies of original documents), may be discarded after the associated financial transaction has completed, has posted, or completed its final approval, whichever is later, except in the following circumstances:

Documents that cannot be uploaded to the Finance system because they exceed the maximum file size (60MB) must be maintained in the files of the originating department for the period indicated in the records retention schedule.

Information Technology Responsibilities

The Department of Information Technology is responsible for compliance with applicable directives of State Agency Bulletin Number One, Electronic Records Standards and Procedures, as published by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Compliance includes:

  1. Providing training for users of electronic records systems, including electronic mail systems, in the operation, care, and handling of the information, equipment, software, and media used in the systems.
  2. Developing and maintaining written documentation about institutional electronic records that is adequate for retaining, reading, or processing the records.
  3. Implementing a security program for electronic state records that is in compliance with TAC 202 Information Security Standards.
  4. Providing capability for preserving any electronic state record resident in the system for its full retention period; or, there must not be any system impediments that prevent migrating the record to another electronic records system, in as complete a form as possible.
  5. Providing for the exchange of records on electronic media between agency computers using different software/operating systems and the conversion or migration of records on electronic media from one system to another, when determined to be necessary by the University.
  6. Coordinating the documentation and destruction of electronic state records with the university RMO and disposing in a manner that ensures protection of any confidential information.
  7. Maintaining proper climatic atmosphere for any centralized electronic media storage.
  8. Conducting random sampling of electronically stored media on an annual basis to identify any loss of data.
  9. Establishing a backup schedule for electronic state records maintained on electronic media to ensure the integrity of the electronic records.

Note: IT does not destroy electronic records.
Electronic records shall be destroyed only in accordance with a record retention schedule approved in accordance with Government Code 441.185 or, in lieu of a state certified and approved records retention schedule, an approved records disposition authorization request.

Detailed Procedures For Disposition Of State Records

  1. Transferring departments shall complete an original and one copy of the Records Disposition Request (Attachment A) for each box to be stored locally. The form must accurately describe the contents of the box and indicate the most recent Fiscal Year of documents in the box. That year will govern the required retention period. A copy of the Records Disposition Request must be taped on one end of each box. See example in Records Retention Schedule.
  2. In describing the documents in a box, departments must use the Records Retention Schedule for proper classification of each record series. The retention schedule is available on-line or a hardcopy can be checked out from Business Services.

In some cases, the state records to be transferred will have already met the required retention period and, in those instances, those records will be disposed of once they have been properly documented. Caution: departments are not authorized to destroy any state records (with the exception of duplicate, working or convenience copies).
Use only approved storage boxes, letter or legal size, made for that purpose. Off-size and non-standard storage boxes will not be accepted for storage. Seal each box using only brown or clear box sealing tape. Boxes and tape are available from Business Services and will be charged to departments at cost by journal voucher.
Prior to admitting to storage, Business Services will verify that each Records Disposition Request has been properly completed and will verify that the retention periods indicated on the form and the requested action is correct. The department will be contacted if the disposition form is incomplete and the box(s) may be returned to the department.
With the exception of boxes whose contents are to be microfilmed, Business Services is not required to open the boxes to verify that the descriptions are accurate. Proper description of documents is the department’s responsibility.
Business Services will provide the department with a completed copy of the Records Disposition Request, including the storage location information for each box.
If a department requires access to their inactive stored files, the department should contact Business Services to set a time for a meeting at the storage facility. The department must always reference the Record Retention location information when requesting access to their inactive files so the box can be located easily.

Records Destruction Procedures For Duplicate or Convenience Copies

Electronic Mail (e-mail)

E-mail messages must be retained or disposed of according to the UHS Retention Schedule. However, e-mail systems must meet the retention requirements found in Texas Administrative Code, Title 13, Part 1, Chapter 6, Subchapter C, Rule §6.94(e). E-mail generally falls into several common record series categories. These are:

  1. Administrative Correspondence, 1.1.007 - Incoming/outgoing and internal correspondence, in any format, pertaining to the formulation, planning, and implementation, interpretation, modification, or redefinition of the programs, services or projects of an agency and the administrative regulations, policies and procedures that govern them. Subject to Archival review. Retention 3 years.
  2. General Correspondence, 1.1.008 - Non-administrative incoming/outgoing and internal correspondence, in any media, pertaining to or arising from the routine operations of the policies, programs, and services, or projects of an agency. Retention: 1 year.
  3. Transitory information, 1.1.057 - Records of temporary usefulness that are required only for a limited period of time for the completion of an action by an official or employee of the agency. Transitory records are not essential to the fulfillment of statutory obligations or to the documentation of agency functions. Temporary or transitory e-mail communications are fulfilled almost immediately upon receipt and may be destroyed after the immediate purpose of that record has been fulfilled.
    Examples of temporary or transitory e-mail include:
    • University wide communications
    • Drafts/revisions of documents
    • Meeting reminders
    • Deadline reminders
    • Routing Messages
    • Reading Materials
    • Reference Materials
    • FYI e-mails of information that does not require a response
    • Other routine messages used for communication but not for documentation of any specific transaction

Personal E-mail exchanges (the personal exchange of communication) are not covered by the State of Texas records retention schedule. However, personal e-mails stored on state equipment are subject to discovery under the Public Information Act and by legal subpoena. Examples of personal e-mails include:

Caution - Generally, employees should not consider email to be private. E-mail, including personal and other temporary or transitory e-mail stored on state equipment/systems is subject to legal discovery under the Public Information Act. Retention of unnecessary e-mail can be used in future litigation. Unnecessary e-mails (those not meeting the definition of a state record) have to be deleted from both the inbox and again from the deleted items folder the day received to be truly erased from the server. If someone sends you an e-mail today and you still have it tomorrow, then it has been backed up on the server and you can no longer guarantee that it is fully destroyed.

Erasure Of Magnetic Media

When information that is stored on magnetic, audio or video tape or on other magnetic media has fulfilled the retention period designated on the UH RRS, the information can be erased. The procedure and schedule for erasure is also provided on the retention schedule. By erasing the information, or recording over it, the media is free for reuse. Erasure of electronic media is considered destruction.

Electronic storage media previously used for an electronic state record containing confidential information shall not be reused if the previously recorded information can be recoverable through reuse in any way, when and if the media passes out of custody of the university.

Vital Records

Certain records that are classified as "vital" in the Records Retention Schedule may require duplication. Vital records, as defined above, are those that are either considered essential to conducting university operations or necessary to recreate a financial or legal position to preserve the rights of the university, its employees or students. Vital records will, however, normally be destroyed after the records have met the required minimum retention period, unless the department has requested a longer retention.

Requesting Boxes From Storage

Records are stored centrally at a commercial off-site location. A department may request records by sending an email to the Business Services mailbox, indicating the box barcode and a description of the contents. Upon request Business Services will request that the vendor pull the records. Requests must be e-mailed by 2 p.m. to ensure next day delivery by 4 p.m. Rush or emergency same day retrieval is available, however, there is a vendor retrieval fee that will be billed back to the requesting department for the rush service. No fees will be charged to the department for normal retrievals.


UH System Administrative Memorandum 03.H.01 Records Retention
State Agency Bulletin Number One
UH System Records Retention Schedule

Approved by:

Signature Obtained                   4/4/16
Raymond V. Morgan, Ph.D.     Date

Next review date: March, 2021
Origination Department: Business Services