Records Management | Williston State College

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Records Management

All records produced in the daily course of business at WSC are subject to state and federal laws/regulations, including retention and disposal.

The current records disposal guidelines for Williston State College (NDUS General Records) can be found in the WSC Records Disposal Report. This report is due to the WSC Unit Records Coordinator. 

Records Management

Importance of Records Management
Records management is vital to:

  • Managing growth of record holdings
  • Improving storage & retrieval
  • Improving efficiency & productivity
  • Identifying & protecting vital/essential records
  • Meeting fiscal, archival, legal, & administrative requirements
  • Preserving corporate memory & provide a historical reference to the past
    • When individuals leave - knowledge management
    • Archival value - preserved for historical reasons

NDCC 54-56: Records Management
North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) Chapter 54-46: Records Management outlines requirements for a standard Records Management program. It also includes definitions, duties, and guidelines for management, disposal, and preservation of records. Furthermore, NDUS Procedure 1912.8 directs each NDUS institution to "maintain a continuing program for the management of records as required by N.D.C.C. ch. 54-46."

What is a Record?
NDCC 54-46-02 states that a record is: "a document, book, paper, photograph, sound recording or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of official business."

A document is a record if:  

  • Your office created it.
  • Your office received it & acted on it.
  • Your office is designated as the custodian (record-holder).
  • Your office needs it to document decisions.
    • EXAMPLES: Meeting minutes, accounting files, budget files, correspondence, personnel files, insurance policies, contracts, project files, research documents, etc.

Is E-Mail a Record? 
E-mail messages can be a record, though it depends on the message's content, i.e. lunch invite vs. a decision to approve the budget of a project. E-mails should be treated like correspondence, filed by subject/content, and retained according to a retention schedule (same rules apply paper & electronic).

What is Not a Record? 

  • Library & museum material made or acquired and preserved solely for reference or exhibition purposes.
  • Stocks of publications (forms, brochures) & of processed documents.
  • Extra copies of documents retained only for convenience of reference.
    • NOTE: Reference copies should not be kept longer than the record. Must be made available for open records requests and litigation, even if only copies available.

Check out this Is It a Record? flowchart.

Unable to find a record series description that applies to your record?
Please contact your WSC Unit Records Coordinator to help identify the appropriate record series for you. It may possible that a new record series needs to be created and the Unit Records Coordinator will request that on your behalf.

Litigation Holds
Information subject to a litigation hold should not be disposed of until the hold is canceled or removed. If you are notified of pending or reasonably foreseeable litigation, ongoing audit or open records request, there may be an impact to the management and/or disposal of your records. SBHE Policy 1912 outlines the procedure for applying a litigation hold for NDUS and its institutions.

Disposal Resources

Information about the annual records disposal will be communicated to the WSC community through this website and other electronic announcements. Records disposal is the responsibility of all WSC faculty, staff, and students who manage records.

The process is facilitated by the Unit Records Coordinator. Forms received from the WSC campus community are compiled by the Unit Records Coordinator, who then records their unit's disposal data electronically prior to the required deadline.  

Disposal Methods: Paper Records

  • Landfill/Recycle: place in trash or a recycling bin - no special protections required
  • Retain: retain within department
  • Shred*: coordinate appropriate disposal
  • Archive: give the records to be archived to your Unit Records Coordinator who will then coordinate the transfer to Archives.

Disposal Methods: Electronic Records

  • Recycle: delete if stored on a hard drive (computer or external), on a network drive or within an electronic imaging system. If stored on a floppy, CD, DVD, USB, tape or other electronic media, place in recycle bin
  • Retain: retain within department
  • Shred*: securely destroy
  • Archive: give the records to be archived to your Unit Records Coordinator who will then coordinate the transfer to Archives.

Records with a disposal method of "shred" often contain confidential information and must be disposed of properly. Paper or microform records must be shredded in an office shredder or through a shredding service. Other media should also be disposed of so as to destroy any data. For electronic media this may mean that the device has to be physically destroyed or completely overwritten with data at the end of its life. 


Are emails considered records?
Email is a method of communication that is no different than a paper record.  

How long should emails be kept?
All WSC employees should 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.

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.  

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 employed at WSC.

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

  • Annually review your records inventory.
  • Properly dispose of records in accordance with the disposal guidelines in the Records Retention Schedules used at WSC.  

Can I keep records longer than the published retention period?
No. Records must be managed in accordance with North Dakota state law.

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.

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.  

What is the process for transferring records to the archives?
Contact the WSC Unit Records Coordinator who will coordinate the transfer of paper and electronic records to Archives as per established procedure.   

How do I manage and dispose of my email records?

  • Determine record status (based on content)
    • Email system itself is not a record
  • Take appropriate action to organize - touch once:
    • Delete non-record emails or duplication 
      • i.e. jokes, notices that go to all employees, no business value (lunch invites)
  • Manage the messages that are records:
    • File and store (move to separate location, i.e. network, document management system, or print/file in traditional paper system)
    • Dispose of according to retention schedule
      • Email retention not a blanket statement (i.e. keep 1 year)  

How do we manage notes of informal staff meetings?
Notes and agendas of informal staff meetings, such as check-ins, updates, discussions of workloads, etc., where no voting or departmental decisions are made, are not considered official minutes or agendas. Rather, they are informal notes - not records - and may be shredded when they are no longer needed.

Laws, Policies & Procedures

WSC Policies & Procedures
Williston State College follows the policies and procedures of the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) which is the policy-making body for the North Dakota University System (NDUS) and the state's 11 public colleges and universities. NDUS procedures are used to implement SBHE policies. Any requests for NDUS procedures should be directed to the NDUS office.

NDUS/SBHE Policies & Procedures

NDUS Procedure 1912 - Public Records

SBHE Policy 1912 - Litigation Hold

North Dakota Century Code

NDCC Chapter 44-04 - Duties, Records, and Meetings

NDCC Chapter 54-46 - Records Management

NDCC § 55-02.1-01 - Archival Resources Defined

NDCC § 55-02.1-05 - Depositories of Archival Resources

WSC Unit Records Coordinator

The Unit Records Coordinator provides assistance and oversight to faculty, staff, and administrators in their units for management and disposal of their records in compliance with federal, state, and institutional requirements. 

Information on this page adapted with permission from the NDSU Records Management Department, Fargo, North Dakota.

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