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What is a record?

What exactly is considered a record?

A record is any document (paper or electronic) created or received by offices or employees that allows them to conduct business. This definition includes, but is not limited to:

  • correspondence
  • forms
  • reports
  • committee minutes
  • memoranda
  • policy statements
  • budgets

Not included are things considered ephemera (these may be discarded at will):

  • duplicate or convenience copies of correspondence
  • drafts of letters or reports
  • routing slips
  • correspondence not related to your job duties

An easy test: If a document helps you perform your job description or documents the history and/or administration of your office, it is probably a record and should be handled appropriately.

Electronic Correspondence

What about emails, instant messages, and other electronic correspondence and/or documents? Are those records?
Yes. The value of a record is determined by content, not by format. If an email or IM helps you conduct the substantive duties of your office, it is a record and must be scheduled as if it were any other paper document. See guidelines for email management.

Official Record vs Convenience Copies

Am I responsible for every record I receive?
Although documents that you receive in the course of business are records, you may not be responsible for long-term maintenance of all of them. In most cases where documents are disseminated, such as in the case of correspondence or committee minutes, the records creator (in these examples, the sender or the committee chair) holds the copy of record, which is the official, long-term copy that must be held for public records purposes. All other copies are considered convenience copies and usually have shorter retention times.