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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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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 Director of Records Management.
  • Properly dispose of records in accordance with the disposal guidelines in the current record retention schedule.

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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 permanent record, and it is what must be included in the Records Disposal Report. The imaged document should be tested for electronic integrity three months after imaging. The paper version is to be disposed of according to the disposal guidelines designated in the Records Retention Schedule.

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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 start a new disposal report form and submit it; 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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Site Manager: NDSU Records Management Coordinator
Published by NDSU Records Management

Last Updated: Friday, April 08, 2016 9:12:44 AM