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What are the laws?

The State of Wisconsin Public Records Law requires that all public records shall be open to the public because people must be informed about the workings of their government. Therefore, every record is presumed to be available to the public. All employees have the following five public record responsibilities:

  • Recognize when you have a public record
  • Understand what is not a public record
  • Understand how to properly retain public records
  • Recognize a public records request and handle that request appropriately

Although most of us don't respond directly to a public record request, knowing what records are and following the Records Schedules keeps the University in compliance with public records law.

Who decides what to keep and what not to keep?

The State of Wisconsin Public Records Board in Madison has oversight and accountability for the State's Records Program. The Board conducts its work through collaboration with Wisconsin governmental entities to assist in their compliance with records retention and preservation requirements. Statutory authority may be found at Wis. Stat. Sec. 16.61. Supporting the Wisconsin Statutes are Universities of Wisconsin Administration Fundamental Activities of Record Management.

The University Archives is available to help campus offices and departments inventory records. Records that do not seem to fit a Records Schedule may require a Records Retention and Disposition Authorization forms, or RDA. Our campus Records Officer will help you facilitate obtaining a new Record Schedule through the Public Records Board. When the Board makes a decision about your records, the Records Officer will notify you how to implement the new schedule.