How to keep emails by Levone

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									Electronic Records Management at VMFA
Courtney Yevich VMFA Archivist February 2008
courtney.yevich@vmfa.museum

What is a public record, and why do you need to care?

“The detailed warrants gave the agents broad authority to search the museums' galleries, offices, storage areas and computer archives. They were looking for objects and records related to the primary targets of the investigation.” Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2008

Virginia Public Records Act (VPRA)
• Recorded information that documents a transaction or activity by or with any public officer, agency or employee of an agency • The medium upon which such information is recorded has no bearing on the determination of whether the recording is a public record Source: Virginia Public Records Act, Code of Virginia, Section 42.1-77

Are e-mail messages public records?
ABSOLUTELY! • More and more business is conducted by e-mail, replacing memos and letters • State agency employees are responsible for managing all of their e-mails, including messages sent and received

Is e-mail subject to FOIA?
ABSOLUTELY! • E-mail records are subject to the same accessibility requirements as other public electronic records – they are exempt from access only if they fall within the exemptions provided under FOIA • Requests from the public for e-mail records must be honored in the same manner as other public records • E-mail records must remain accessible during their entire retention period and should be maintained in such as manner as to permit easy access and timely retrieval

Exemptions from FOIA
• There are many types of state agency information that are exempt from FOIA discovery, including: – Personnel information – SSNs and other indentifiable personal information – Security information (system plans, codes, etc.) – Identifying financial information (account numbers, etc.) – Legal counsel – Minutes from closed session trustee meetings – Unpublished scholarly research Additionally, the museum is committed to protecting: – Values of art (appraisals, insurance, etc.) – Dealer correspondence – Conservation evaluations – Insurance policies for art – Terms of anonymous gifts – Sales transactions – Other sensitive donor information (especially of a financial or contractual nature)

•

Employee responsibilities
• As an employee of a state agency, you must manage all of your information assets, both paper and electronic. If you don’t, you can create serious legal, operational and public relations risks from the museum • Moreover, you can lose your job, be bought to trial, or even go to jail for up to five years… “If any person steal or fraudulently secrete or destroy a public record or part thereof, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.” Source: Code of Virginia, Section 18.2-107

What is a public record?
• Administrative records -Correspondence, annual reports, calendars, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, org charts • Financial records - Contracts, budget materials, reports • Personnel files • Research files • Fundraising / grant records -Reports, expenses, applications • Policies and procedures • Publications -Final drafts, production files • Program files -Course listings, descriptions, logs

What is not a public record?
• Reference materials -Articles, booklets, flyers, newsletters • Blank forms or templates • Copies of materials for distribution* -Policies, procedures • Transactional e-mail / announcements -Meeting times, lunch dates, staff association events, holiday schedules • Listserv messages • Personal e-mail • Personal electronic files -Photos, errand lists, itineraries
*If you are not the original distributor

Records appraisal
All of the values below will be considered when determining which records are permanent or temporary, and if so, how long to keep them:
• Administrative: continuing utility in the operation of the agency • Fiscal: documents and verifies financial authorizations, obligations, and transactions • Legal: documents actions taken in the protection and proving of legal or civil rights and obligations of individuals and the agency • Historical: contains unique information, regardless of age, that provides understanding of some aspect of government and promotes the development of an informed and enlightened citizenry

Records retention schedules
Schedule Number

GS-102 Series Description Checks and Checking – 012096 This series contains reports, cancelled checks, returned checks, check registers, checking statements, and other records relating to the agency’s checking accounts. Retain 3 years or until audit, whichever is longer, then destroy.
Disposition Statement Retention Statement

Series Name and Number

Record

Did you create it?

Did you receive it?

Is this a copy of a record another dept. keeps?

From outside agency

From inside agency You changed it You didn’t change it

Is your department the official record creator?

Delete when no longer needed

Delete – sender should file Determine type of record

Informational or reference

Temporary record

Permanent record

Delete when no longer needed

File and delete according to retention period

Print or file for permanent retention

Storage and destruction of paper records
• Separate temporary records from permanent records and box them separately; remove hanging files and make sure file folders are labeled; label the boxes well, including dates • By state law, all original records destruction must be documented and signed off on by the records officer and the COO • If you do destroy any duplicate copies of records and it contains sensitive, personal information, it MUST be destroyed properly to avoid identity theft. Treat it as if it was your own personal information!

Recent changes to the VPRA – timely destruction of records
• Temporary records created after July 1, 2006 must be destroyed in a “timely manner,” within one year of the retention period expiring • Records that contain identifying information must be destroyed within six months of the expiration of the records retention period • Identifying information is defined as the presence of any one or more of the following:
– – – – – – – – Social security number Driver's license number Bank account number Credit or debit card number Personal identification number (PIN) Electronic identification codes Automated or electronic signatures Passwords

Electronic records management challenges
• The ease of copying and modification – the great advantage of digital media – is a major liability • Media degradation and obsolescence (hardware) • Format obsolescence (software) • Uncontrolled accumulation and duplication • Ease of uninformed and unintentional destruction • Maintaining records in a way that will enable retrieval of all records relevant to a transaction when they are needed in the future Solution: cooperation between records management staff, administration, legal counsel, information technology staff, and all agency staff

Good electronic recordkeeping practices
• Do not save permanent records to your hard drives!! Overall, save everything you can to your shared network drive, which is secure and backed up daily • Ensure that consistent descriptive information is found in each file (title, author, date, etc.) to create context • Model your folder structure on your departmental retention schedule and/or on your paper files • Do not duplicate files on your networked drive that also reside on your department’s shared drive • Do not create a folder structure based on the program used (Word files, Excel files) because that doesn’t tell you anything about the content of the files inside

File naming tips
File names must be unique so that if they are moved from one location to another, they will not be confused with another file (i.e. don’t create two folders called “Spr08” and “Win08” and just name the file in each “Report”) Common elements of file names: • • • • • • Version number (v1, vers1) Date of creation (021408, 02_14_08, 20080214) Name of creator (RBSmith, RBS) Description of content (Medkit, Report, Corr) Intended audience (Pub, Int, Conf) Name of group associated with record (CommABC, Trustee)

Always include the date (at least the year) in file or folder names for temporary records because that will make destruction compliance much easier!

Storage media options
• The best place to store any electronic record is on the museum’s server spaces because they are secure and backed up daily. • Portable storage media (CDs, DVDs, USB drives, etc.) all pose security and data loss risks. • Even when properly cared for, all storage media has limited life expectancy – affected by quality, age, condition before and after recording, handling, frequency of access, and storage conditions. • If you do need to put information on storage media, you should only save temporary information there, anything that has a lifespan of less than 5 years. • CD-Rs are the preferred storage media right now – they are more stable than CD-RWs and DVDs and USB drives are still rapidly changing technologies.

E-mail is managed by its content, not its format.
You will not find “e-mail” on any retention schedule

When is e-mail a record?
• Approve or authorize actions or expenditures • Formal communications between staff, such as correspondence or memoranda relating to official business • Signify policy change or developments • Create precedents, such as messages issuing instructions or advice • Involve negotiations on behalf of the museum • Have enduring value for other people or the museum as a whole

What is e-mail not a record?
Delete messages with short-term value, such as: • Reference materials -Newsletters • Copies of materials for distribution* -Policies, procedures • Transactional e-mail / announcements -Meeting times, lunch dates, staff association events, holiday schedules • Listserv messages • Personal e-mail • Spam
*If you are not the original distributor

(1) From: Wally To: A1 Asphalt Subject: Contract clarification Message: This is a good question. The intent of that item in the contract is to… (2) From: Commissioner Patterson To: All Staff Subject: E-mail policy Message: Please read carefully and comply with the following e-mail policy… (3) From: Kevin To: Daniel Subject: Re: Draft for review Message: Sorry about the delay. See what you think about this draft and get back to me by Thursday… (4) From: Brad To: Mindy Subject: Committee appointment Message: You have formally been appointed to the Department Improvement Committee… (5) From: Laura To: Staff on the 9th Floor Subject: Party Announcement Message: Join us on December 18th for our annual holiday celebration. This year we hope…

(6) From: Hugh To: Sarah Subject: Fwd: Joke Message: Here’s a good one! A giant grasshopper goes into a bar… (7) From: Sandra To: Jane Subject: Information for annual report Message: Here are the statistics I gathered for the annual report. Let me know if… (8) From: Leon To: Roger Subject: Letter of complaint Message: Dear sir, I feel compelled to send you this complaint about the people working in your department… (9) From: Kelly To: John Subject: Not feeling well Message: Sorry I’ve been out of the office, but I have been battling this terrible cold for days now. Can you please let me know what… (10) From: John To: All Managers Subject: Instructions for travel form Message: Here are the instructions for filling out the newly updated travel form…

What to do with e-mails that are records?
• Do they have enduring value? At this point, truly important permanent e-mail should be printed and stored with other paper files, or kept in Outlook • Do they have temporary value? Store on acceptable media for required length of time – in Outlook, on storage media (CDs, DVDs, flash drives, etc.), or on a networked hard drive

When in doubt, print it out!

A word about printing
Print version must include: • Addresses of specific recipients (including Cc and Bcc fields), not names of distribution lists • Address of the sender • Date and time the message was sent and/or received • Subject line • Body of e-mail message • All attachments

How should you organize your e-mail?
(1) No filing system: creating no folders, keeping all emails in inbox (2) Filing system: simple filing scheme based on subject areas, keeping no e-mails in your inbox

(3) Combination of filing system and inbox: e-mails that are lingering and require resolution stay in the inbox, the rest are filed

How should you organize your sent mail?
(1) Manage it like your inbox, deleting those that you don’t need to keep, and filing those that you would need to keep (e.g. you’re the originator of a record, you offer a decision or solution to a problem) (2) Always Cc or Bcc yourself when you know you’re sending an e-mail you will need to keep so once it arrives in your inbox, file it away. Then you can safely delete your sent mail at regular intervals.*
*If you’re sending e-mails with sensitive or personal information, they will need to be destroyed properly

Sample mailbox organization
Permanent e-mails

Retain in Outlook for now

Retain until no longer needed or superseded

Reference e-mails

Retain for 6-12 months

Temporary e-mails

Inbox as to-do list

So do I really need to clean out my inbox?
ABSOLUTELY! • Our e-mail system will be moving to a central storage server space with VITA in about 18 months. At that point, the size of our mailboxes will be greatly decreased and many of you will exceed your limit immediately. • When we move to central storage, simply archiving all of your old e-mails with no regard to content is not advised.

Electronic records destruction
• Just like paper records, all electronic records destruction will be handled by the Archives. • Once temporary electronic records in various departments have been identified and they become “inactive” records for a department, they will be moved to a specific location on the servers to await destruction at the expiration of their retention period. • All documentation for electronic records destruction will be signed off on by the records officer and the COO. • Destruction of any electronic records with sensitive or personal information must be done by the Archives.

Auditing for timely destruction
• The state will be auditing state agencies for compliance with timely electronic records destruction. • Organizing records in folders according to subject area and then fiscal or calendar year allows for easy monitoring of retention periods and disposal of records at the appropriate time without manually sifting through hundreds of e-mails or files. • Once your department’s retention schedule has been updated to include electronic records, regular destruction will occur (e.g. each summer, financial records will be destroyed).

Archiving e-mail
Three methods of archiving e-mails outside of Outlook: (1) Print e-mails and maintain them with your paper files (2) Save e-mails as text files on the secure network server, not on your hard drive (3) Create personal archive folders (.pst files) and store them on the secure network server, not on your hard drive The best system is a combination of methods 1 and 2: • Print and file all permanent e-mails • Store all other e-mails in folders based upon subject and date and destroy records routinely based upon retention schedules

Issues with .pst files
• Backup issues (the default setting is to save them to your hard drive, so you must remember to put them on the networked drive) • Messages takes up more space in a .pst file than in Outlook or as other type of electronic file • Security issues • Hard to apply retention schedules because all folders are saved together • Global searches no longer possible, making discovery very difficult • Uses a Microsoft proprietary format

What to do with attachments?
Three options for preserving attachments: (1) Save the e-mail and attachment together in Outlook (2) Save the attachment on your hard drive or shared drive and delete the e-mail (this is when the e-mail simply says something like “Look at this attachment.”) (3) Print the e-mail and attachment and save them in paper format If attachment should be kept permanently, method 3 is the best.

Other electronic record types
All of these types of records have special needs and can be discussed individually with departments: • Databases – a born digital record type that has no functional paper equivalent

• Web content – agency websites are public records and need to be managed as such
• Digital images – our digital image archives are our on the museum’s most valuable information assets

Electronic records and e-mails do not manage themselves!
You must become a proactive manager of your inboxes and desktops. You must manage your messages and files in a way that is most effective for you.


								
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