A note about transitioning to digital records
Many departments are moving from paper-based records to digital records. This is accomplished in two main ways: scanning the paper records so they will become digital, or starting with digital records and storing them as the official record copy.
Moving from paper records to digital records is not a records management issue because the University's Records Retention Schedule applies equally to all records. Records are records, no matter what format.
The process of scanning/digitizing paper records into a digital format is a reformatting issue. Migrating from paper to electronic records is a workflow issue.
The State of Texas does not have a preference for the format in which agency records exist; however, the State does have specific requirements for the technical specifications and ongoing management of electronic records. For more information, see the Texas Administrative Code (see TITLE 13, PART 1, STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES FOR MANAGEMENT OF ELECTRONIC RECORDS) and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's State Agency Bulletin 1: Electronic Records Standards and Procedures.
The University's document management system
For university records being scanned in-house for storage in the document management system (DMS) and with the planning assistance of Technology Resources, the DMS should meet the State requirements for digital records. Once each scanned image is reviewed and determined to be a complete and accurate copy of the original (with the quality control process written into the departmental procedures), the digital copy can be considered the official record and the paper version can become the convenience copy.
If you wish to plan digital reformatting utilizing the DMS, please contact the document management team in Technology Resources.
Scanning without the assistance of the Document Management Team
For university records being scanned by departments for storage in a digital repository other than in the DMS and without the planning assistance of Technology Resources, it is strongly recommended that the digital copy be used for convenience and the paper be stored as the official record. As stated in the records management training, "when in doubt, treat it as a record."
Implementing a new or using an existing database to maintain electronic university records
Many departments are using specialized databases that can also manage imported records. While there is no rule that permits or prohibits using these databases to hold university records, it is recommended that departments verify the following before uploading official university records:
- Confirm the database is considered secure by the Information Security Office, and that university records uploaded into the database have no security/confidentiality concerns.
- Verify that the database has a method for disposing of digital records according to the University's Records Retention Schedule (RRS). A record is a record, no matter what format, and all university records must be retained and disposed according to the retention policy set forth in the RRS. Prior to deleting from the database, the digital records must be listed on a Records Disposition Log (see Disposition Instructions).
If your office decides that the database holds the official university record in digital format, paper records do not need to be printed and held in hard copy. As long as the existing paper records are an exact copy of the digital records held in the database, then the paper version can become the convenience copy.
Ultimately, individual departments are responsible for making sure their records meet the State requirements for retention, accessibility, and disposition as outlined in the links above. The University's Records Retention Schedule (RRS) provides guidance for how long university records must be retained, regardless of the format, system, or storage location.
Again, if you wish to plan digital reformatting project, it is strongly suggested that you contact the document management team in Technology Resources prior to starting your project. They can assist you with meeting State requirements for electronic records.
As an alternative to digitizing records, offsite storage may be a viable option. Several university offices are using the selected offsite records storage facility, which is a cost-effective alternative for records that are rarely accessed but that must be retained according to the Records Retention Schedule (RRS). Note that the owning department is responsible for the recurring monthly fees and for retaining/disposing stored records according to the RRS. For more information about offsite storage, please email RecordsRetention@txstate.edu.