What Is A Record
In a broad sense a record is something that shows that an event occurred. It is created by, or at the time of the event, and is closely associated enough to be evidence that it happened. In an organisation, records are created as employees conduct work in their designated roles:
- Documents created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. (AS/ISO 15489 – Records Management);
- Official Records [are] records created by, sanctioned by, or proceeding from an individual acting within their designated capacity (USP Records Management Policy)
USP records are evidence of the activities of its staff. As data is entered, emails are sent and responded to, reports and policies are written, correspondence is posted, courses are designed and assignments marked, records show the results of these tasks.
While all records generated by USP activity are covered by the Records Management Policy, not all belong in the formal record keeping system. Those that do can be termed ‘official records’:
An official record is the University’s original or primary record of business activities, as opposed to a duplicate copy or draft/working copies. Official records should be captured in the formal electronic records management system, Content Manager. Official records:
- relate to, document, or provide evidence of business activities of an individual staff member, faculty or unit, or of the University as a whole;
- record decisions, decision-making processes, advice and/or direction; and
- support the corporate memory of an individual area, a faculty or unit, and/or the University as a whole. (USP Records Management Policy)
NOTE: Official records are not only those that are to be permanently kept.
Most records are of temporary value, and making sure that they are stored only while they have value is an important element of good records management practices. Content Manager is intended to contain and manage all levels of official USP records.
For efficiency and accountability, USP staff and management must know what has been done or decided, when and by whom. Official records are those that may need to be consulted for some period, for the business purposes of your unit. Those that fall below this line (conversational emails, rough drafts and minor administrative exchanges) will be authorised for destruction as ephemeral records, when no longer required.
Records Management practices and objectives
Records management aims to ensure that:
- Records are created. When something is done in pursuit of USP goals, evidence is produced, and that evidence is captured in the University’s record keeping system;
- Records are organised in such a way that they are retrievable by those who need to use them, including successive people in a role, and/or successive and/or inter-related business units;
- Records are protected from loss, accidental or deliberate damage, destruction or deletion;
- Access to records is controlled appropriately according to their level of confidentiality;
- Non-confidential records are available widely as far as appropriate – they are the memory and asset of the University, not the staff member or the business unit; and
- Records’ retention is managed. Ideally the life-spans of records are set when they are created, so that they are held for the period that they have value and then disposed of.
These objectives promote the efficiency of the University in making information available when needed; in managing risk of inappropriate access; and optimising use of university property by not storing redundant records.