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Email Records Identification Guidelines

An email message constitutes an official record when the document is made or received in connection with the transaction of University business. If it would be needed as evidence of a department's activities, events, or business transactions for operational, legal, regulatory, and/or historical purposes, it is a record. (Also see What Is A Record? for additional information on determining if a message is a record) Examples are:

  • When it records official decisions
  • When it records or communicates discussions about policies, programs and program delivery
  • When it contains background information used to develop other University documents such as studies, reports or position papers
  • When it documents a business transaction
  • It proves a business-related event or activity did or did not occur
  • To demonstrate a transaction
  • When you need to identify who participated in a business activity or had knowledge of an event
  • When it has business, operational, legal, regulatory, or historic value to the University
  • When it has legal or compliance value
  • When it could help resolve a dispute in the future
Ask Yourself These Questions:
  • Do you need the email to document a business activity or transaction?
  • Do you need the email to prove a business-related event or activity did or did not occur?
  • Do you need the email to identify who participated in a business activity or had knowledge of an event?
  • Does the email have legal or compliance value?
  • Do you need the email to support facts you claim to be true, since the person with the direct knowledge of the facts is not available?
  • Could it help resolve a dispute in the future?
  • Does the law expect that the University will retain it?
  • If it were in paper form, would it be retained?

Records Retention falls into one of three categories:

Transient Retention - these, by definition, are non-records and have very little administrative value. They are records of temporary usefulness that are not an integral part of a department's records series, that are not regularly filed in a department's recordkeeping system, and that are required only for a limited period of time for the completion of an action or in preparation of an on-going records series. Transitory records are not essential to the fulfillment of statutory obligations or to the documentation of department functions.

  • Examples: Routine messages, internal meeting notices and reminders, "While You Were Out" notes, drafts, work group discussions, administrative notices, courtesy copies, other messages that serve to convey information of temporary importance in lieu of oral communication.
  • Retention: Until no longer of administrative value, then destroy.

Intermediate Retention - Email that has more significant administrative, legal and/or fiscal value.

  • Examples: Internal correspondence requesting information, monthly and weekly reports, documents advising supervisors of various events, issues, and status or on-gong projects, correspondence from various individuals, companies, and organizations requesting information, copies of meeting minutes (excluding the official copy of the minutes).
  • Retention: Retain for the appropriate period of time per the records retention schedule, and then destroy.

Permanent Retention - Email that has significant administrative, legal and/or fiscal value and are scheduled as permanent.

  • Example: Executive correspondence pertaining to the formulation, planning, implementation, interpretation, modification, or redefinition of programs, services, or projects and the administrative regulations, policies and procedures that govern them; department policies and procedures, which include reports and policy studies; official copy of meeting minutes.
  • Retention: Retain for the appropriate period of time per the records retention schedule, and then transfer to Archives.


Non-Records

University of Missouri Definition of Non-Records
  • Extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience of reference.
  • Stocks of printed or reproduced documents kept for supply purposes where file copies have been retained for record purposes.
  • Books, periodicals, newspapers, posters and other materials made or acquired and preserved solely for reference or exhibition purposes.
  • Private materials neither made nor received by a University staff member in connection with the transaction of University business.
  • Duplicate microfilm of University records.
  • Tapes and cassettes provided that the documents containing the same information have been retained or approved for disposal.
  • Material not filed as evidence of department operations or for its informational value such as telephone call slips, letters of transmittal, route slips, etc.
  • Dictation tapes, machine tapes and mechanical records which have been transcribed into electronic or printed form.
  • Preliminary drafts of letters, memoranda, reports, work sheets, and informal notes which do not represent significant basic steps in the preparation of the record document.

Reviewed 2011-10-07.