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Records Management


What defines a record?

NDCC 54-46-02 defines a record as "A document, book, paper, photograph, sound recording or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law in connection with the transaction of official business."

A record is anything that:

  • Your office created;
  • Your office acted on;
  • Your office receives it for action;
  • Your office is designated as the custodian of (i.e. record-holder);
  • Your office needs to document its decisions.

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Are emails considered records?

Email is a method of communication that is no different than a paper record.

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How long should emails be kept?

NDSU has been advised that the University System will be responsible for a technical solution that will manage compliance with the new email retention requirements without the need for action by each employee. Accordingly, all NDSU employees are being asked to continue to follow their regular retention procedures for all records, including emails. In other words, continue to treat an email in accordance with the record series associated with its content.

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What is the definition of "Office of Record Retention?"

The "Office of Record Retention" is the organization or administrative unit that is officially designated for the maintenance, preservation and disposition of the official record according to the Records Retention Schedule.

  •  Note: the Office of Record Retention is not always the office of origin.

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What are the records management duties of copyholders?

Copy holders are individuals who are in possession of copies of records but are not the Office of Record Retention. They will dispose of their copies any time prior to the expiration of their retention period, in the method specified in the Records Retention Schedule, and with no need to include them in their annual Records Disposal Reports.

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When and how is a copyholder supposed to dispose of a convenience copy whose original is to be retained permanently?

The retention period for some record series is “PERM – Permanent,” and, naturally, there is no disposal method specified. In that case, copyholders may dispose of their convenience copies at any time. Regarding the disposal method, they should err on the side of caution and use shredding – the most secure method possible.

Who is responsible for managing records and information?

Everyone is.

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How often do I need to review my records for disposal?


  • Review your records inventory.
  • If any new record series have been created, add them to the records schedule in consultation with the NDSU Records Management leadership.
  • Properly dispose of records in accordance with the disposal guidelines in the Records Retention Schedules used at NDSU.

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Can I keep records longer than the published retention period?

No. Records must be managed in accordance with North Dakota state law.

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What resources are available to answer questions?

If you have other questions:

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How are records classified as “Public,” “Private” and “Restricted”?

Data types within a ND University System (NDUS) institution are classified as follows, according to the NDUS Data Classification and Information Security Standard 1901.2.1, :  

  • Restricted- This is data that requires the highest level of protection. It is data protected by federal or state laws, regulations, contracts, or policy.
  • Private- This is data that should not be available to the public. It is data that may be protected by federal or state laws, regulations, contracts, or policy. This data required protection, but not at the same level as "Restricted" data.
  • Public- It is data that can generally be released to the public. It typically required minimal protection.

The ND University System's "Classification for Common Data Elements" document provides useful examples and is available at

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How do I report disposal of records that I have in both electronic and paper form?

Once a record has been imaged electronically, the electronic version becomes the official record and should be tested for electronic integrity three months after imaging. At that time, the paper version becomes a convenience copy and is to be managed as such.

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If a particular email constitutes a record and has been saved as a pdf or txt document, is it still considered an email if we receive an open records request for “email documents”?

Yes, an email record that is saved in another format is still considered an email record.

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Why is the NDSU records disposal deadline the end of May, since we have until the end of the fiscal year to dispose of records?

We established the May 30 deadline for NDSU because our office needs to compile, tabulate and sum up all the NDSU reports and submit our cumulative report before the end of the fiscal year. This takes some time, so we set our deadline a month ahead of the end of the fiscal year to ensure that we get the NDSU report to the Bismarck ITD office on time. If after submitting your disposal report you find that you still have records to dispose of between May 31 and June 30, you can go ahead and report the additional disposal data; if we haven’t yet submitted our cumulative report to Bismarck, we will include that additional information to it, otherwise, it will be the start of the next fiscal year’s disposal report.

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At what time during the fiscal year should records disposal be conducted and reported?

NDSU departments may conduct their annual disposal and submit their disposal reports through their Unit Records Coordinators, during the time in the fiscal year that works best for them, making sure that the same time frame is followed every year.

May 30 of each year is the deadline for Unit Records Coordinators to record their units’ disposal data. However, if it works best for their departments to do so earlier in the year, that is perfectly fine. A department can designate another month for its annual disposal and reporting, and follow that designation consistently from year to year.


What is the process for transferring records to the NDSU Archives?

Unit Records Coordinators coordinate the transfer of paper and electronic records to Archives as per the requirements in the Records Retention Schedule. Instructions on this process, and the transmittal forms to be filled out, are available at   

I’ve received an open records request. What do I do?

The procedure for handling public records request, along with additional information related to identification and management of public/open/confidential records, is described in NDSU Policy 718; this policy is available at

How do I manage and dispose of my email records?

Guidance and recommendations on management and disposal of e-mail records is provided at E-Records Management.  Questions may be directed to .

How should we safeguard personally identifiable information, health information and financial information?

NDSU recommends that personally identifiable information (PII), health information and financial information must NEVER be:


  • stored in an unprotected area and/or on an unprotected electronic device
  • shared without proper protection
  • shared with anyone without a legitimate need to know
  • sent or received in an email
  • required for online forms

For more information on PII and to learn how to protect it please visit

How do I manage the paper document of grades that have been assigned, after the grades have been electronically recorded?

Students have the right to dispute grades they’ve received, so we need to keep all documentation pertaining to grades awarded until a dispute can no longer be filed.

According to NDSU policy 337, Grade Appeals Board, found at , a student who disputes an assigned grade must initiate a request for a change of grade “15 instructional days of the first day of the semester immediately following the semester in which the grade was awarded.”

Therefore, please hold on to the paper copies of assigned grades until at least 15 instructional days have passed in the following semester. After that time, the paper copies of the grades can be disposed of, as the electronic version will serve as the official record.

How do records management requirements impact Skype conversations?

Skype conversations may be documented in O365 email. If so, then the content of a particular conversation would determine whether or not it is a record, in which case it will need to be managed according to the Records Retention Schedules used at NDSU.

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Site Manager: NDSU Records Management Coordinator
Published by NDSU Records Management

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 08, 2018 8:42:08 AM
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