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Frequently Asked Questions

This is a collection of some of the more frequently asked questions we receive, discussed here for easy reference. For more detailed information, please see our Staff Recordkeeping Manual.

General recordkeeping

Records are defined by the Australian Standard on Records Management (AS ISO 15489.1) as "information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organisation or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business".

Records can come in many different forms, including (but not limited to) paper and electronic documents, drawings, maps, plans, photographs, microforms, audio and video recordings, and database entries. It is the content that matters, not the format: if it contains evidence of business activities or transactions, it is a record.

University Records are records relating to the business activities of the University. The University owns all records created and received by individual employees as part of their day to day business, including research data, teaching materials and correspondence. Under the Archives Act 1983, the University's records are considered State Records and must be managed and disposed of in accordance with the Act.

Some examples of University Records:

  • Agendas (including appendices) and minutes of meetings of formally established University boards and committees
  • Students' academic transcripts held electronically or in hard copy format
  • Decisions taken by employees under delegation which are recorded in memoranda, letters, email messages, reports etc.
  • Financial transactions held electronically or in hard copy format
  • Personnel transactions (letters of appointment, reports on performance and other dealings between employees and the University)
  • Course and Unit outlines
  • Applications and other forms completed by students
  • Decisions conveyed to students by mail or electronically
  • Lecturers' grade lists and assignment mark lists held electronically or in hard copy
  • Research grant applications
  • Contracts/Agreements
  • Policies, Procedures and Guidelines created by the University

As a University employee you create and/or access University records and information. All University employees are responsible for ensuring that University records that they create or receive in the course of their work are complete, accurate and managed in accordance with the University's Records Management Policy (PDF 249 KB), Records Management Guidelines (PDF 371 KB) & associated procedures. You must not destroy or alter University Records without authorisation: unauthorised destruction of State Records is a breach of the Archives Act 1983 and subject to fines of up to $5000 per breach.

Managers and Heads of business units are required to establish and set up appropriate recordkeeping systems to facilitate the collation and registration of University records. Heads of business units are to ensure that their staff members have a clear understanding of the recordkeeping requirements for their business area and provide adequate training and education. They are responsible for ensuring records are disposed of in accordance with authorised disposal schedules, and for certification of entries made in each of their business unit's Registers of Records Destroyed.

Senior Management is responsible for the approval of recordkeeping policies and ensuring that adequate resources are available for managing and maintaining University records.

The Records Management Unit is responsible for issuing guidelines, education, training and advice to assist areas to conform to the requirements for university recordkeeping. This business unit is also responsible for the configuration, development, implementation, training and support for the Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS). In addition it provides operational support to nominated areas of the University, which include business areas such as the Vice-Chancellor's Office, Pro Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Chief Operating Officer's Office and the Legal Office.

Information Technology Services (ITS) is responsible for maintaining the databases and systems in which electronic records and information are stored.

Sometimes we need to track the development of a document over the course of time, capturing records of what the document looked like at key points in its development. A draft or new version of a document must be captured as a record when it:

  • is sent to others for comment, advice or approval;
  • provides evidence of approval in the form of annotations;
  • documents a decision making process;
  • shows the context and/or content has changed significantly; or
  • contains significant information not contained in the final document.

While you need to keep key drafts of significant documents (e.g. drafts that you circulate for comment or approval), you don't need to keep every minor draft documenting formatting changes or fixing typos and spelling errors.

It is always safer to capture information from its creation, rather than at a later stage. If a delay occurs, continuity and contextual information is often lost, reducing the evidentiary value and usefulness of the record. This can make it harder to establish the integrity of a record and can hinder decision making processes, especially if it affects other areas of the University. Our aim is to hold complete and accurate records and have the knowledge of their existence and who holds them and the tools to be able to retrieve these records regardless of where in the University they are created or housed.

It is important to create records of conversations through telephone, SMS or face to face if significant business decisions were made and there is no documentary evidence to follow such as a letter or memo. Examples include conversations that:

  • Convey the primary response from the University to another organisation, a staff member, a media representative or a client (i.e. instances in which a response will not be confirmed in writing), such as a verbal agreement, authorisation, directive or formal/legal advice; or
  • Represent complaints from a member of the public requiring further investigation.

Create a written record of these conversations in the form of a file note or follow-up email and circulate it to the other participants to ensure they agree that it is an accurate reflection of the conversation.

You can download a file note template (MS Word 642 KB) from our Forms & Templates page, but you can use pen and paper or whatever medium you prefer provided it can be captured as a record and contains the following details:

  • The date and time the conversation or meeting took place.
  • The date and time you wrote the notes.
  • The topic of the conversation and the outcome(s) of that discussion.
  • The names of the participants and any witnesses.
  • The name of the person who wrote the notes.

Scanned signatures are scanned images of a person's signature that can be pasted into electronic documents. Due to the ease with which they can be fraudulently used and the difficulty in establishing whether their use on a document was authorised, they may only be used in the following circumstances:

  • Regularly sending out (either by post or e-mail) correspondence on a single matter to a large number of respondents;
  • Requirement for a senior University of Tasmania officer to regularly authorise correspondence generated singly but collectively generating a large workload.
  • Where a document is used for general communication or for the provision of general information on the University or its activities.
  • Scanned signatures may be used on paper documents where these provide for officially recognised academic certification, credit, or entitlement only when such documents are produced on University approved specialised paper.
  • The originals of all Purchase Orders generated through the Financial Management Information System are printed with the electronic signature of the Director, Financial Services as the representative of the University. Purchase Orders are only printed once all appropriate approval processes are completed in line with University of Tasmania financial procedures, including exercise of the relevant Delegations of Authority.

Scanned signatures are not to be used on any contractual documents. Original signatures must be obtained for any contract, financial or lease arrangement.

Scanned signatures should not be used on internal forms. While signed paper forms may be scanned for use as a reference copy or to expedite processing, the original paper form should be retained, preferably by the business area that receives and processes the form.

Scanned copies of completed contracts should be captured into the University's Electronic Document & Records Management System (EDRMS) if you have access. If you don't have access to the EDRMS, forward scanned copies of the completed contracts to the Records Management Unit (RMU) at RMU.Staff@utas.edu.au. The hard copies should be retained by your organisational unit or sent to the RMU at Private Bag 69.

For more information, please see the University Contract Recordkeeping Procedure.

Retention

No. If a document is created or transmitted between individuals in the course of UTAS business, it is automatically a University Record. However, not all University Records have long term value and the State Archivist has authorised the destruction of some records of very low or short-term value as soon as they are no longer needed. These are known as 'ephemeral records (PDF 58 KB)' or 'short-term-value records' and are listed in full in Disposal Authorisation No. 2158 (DA 2158 (PDF 198 KB)).

Common types of ephemeral records include:

  • rough notes and calculations
  • external publications, including legislation, newspaper clippings and equipment manuals
  • circulation copies of UTAS publications, including UniTas
  • duplicates and print-outs from University systems (e.g. TechOne reports)

For more information, please see:

The University allows employees to make limited use of UTAS facilities for personal use, including storing personal documents and correspondence. A folder or folders should be identified in your directories and email software to identify your personal information. Business information should not be included in these personal areas.

Personal documents, emails and papers can be destroyed as soon as staff members no longer require the information and should be removed or destroyed prior to leaving the University. Refer to the University Records & Information Cessation of Employment form for procedures. If correspondence incorporates both personal and work-related information, then it is a University Record and should be saved into a formal recordkeeping system (e.g. HPE RM).

Emails can be University records if they contain evidence of a business activity or transaction, provide formal advice or recommendations, order or approve a course of action, or record a decision or agreement. Emails of this nature should be captured into HPE RM, or if HPE RM is not available, saved in an appropriate folder in a shared mailbox, or exported as a PDF and saved in an appropriate folder in your business area's shared drive or wiki. You do not need to capture 'FYI' emails or bulk emails (unless you were the sender in the latter case).

While it is tempting to capture only the last email in an email 'thread' or conversation, on the basis that the previous emails are quoted within the last email, this practice should be avoided, as there is no way of determining whether the quoted emails have been altered, undermining the evidential value of the record.

For more information, please see:

It all depends on the content contained within the records. There is no set period or 'seven year rule': the required retention period varies depending on the type of record. If it is duplicate or ephemeral information (PDF 58 KB), then you only need to keep it for as long as you need to reference it. If it has a legal or business requirement to be kept for a specific time frame then it will need to be kept until the minimum requirement is met.

This may be up to 25 years for permanent records (PDF 112 KB) or even longer in some cases. You can identify the legal retention period for a given type of record by looking it up in the disposal schedules. In rare cases, you may find records that aren't listed in any disposal schedules: these are called unscheduled records and must be dealt with specially.

For more information, please see:

Disposal schedules are legal documents approved by the State Archivist that authorise the disposal of records that fall into one of the disposal classes listed in the schedule. Disposal classes are categories of records derived from business functions and activities. These classes have both an associated reference number (taking the form "xx.yy.zz") and an authorised disposal action. Disposal actions range from permanent retention as an archive, to stipulating a minimum period of time records must be retained prior to destruction.

The University uses the four generic disposal schedules published by the Tasmanian Archive & Heritage Office, along with its own approved functional disposal schedule (DA 2398) based on the specific business functions of the University. They can be downloaded in PDF format from our Disposal Schedules page.

For more information, please see Information Sheet 4: Disposal Schedules (PDF 616 KB).

The most common disposal action listed for disposal classes is "Destroy X years after action completed", where X varies depending on the importance of the records. In this context, "after action completed" means after completion of the transaction the records relate to or the last time the record was actioned. In practice, this generally means the retention period should be calculated from the date of the most recent record in the folder or collection. If the record has been modified (e.g. signed or stamped), use the date the record was last modified. For an email or letter, this would be the date it was received (if from an external party) or the date it was sent (if from a University employee). For transactions, this typically means from the date the transaction was completed. For forms, it might mean the date the form was approved.

If you can't find an appropriate disposal class for a record in any of the disposal schedules applicable to the University, then it may be what is called an unscheduled record, being a class of records not covered by any of the disposal schedules. As they are not covered by a disposal schedule, unscheduled records cannot be disposed of via the standard disposal process.

To dispose of unscheduled records, you will need to list them in an Application to Dispose of State Records and submit it to the Tasmanian Archive & Heritage Office for approval. Depending on the nature of the records, you can either request authorisation to destroy them or to transfer them to the State Archives. As this process can be relatively slow and laborious, it is worth double-checking the disposal schedules and contacting the Records Management Unit for advice first to make sure the records are truly unscheduled.

For more information, please see Information Sheet 5: Unscheduled Records (PDF 114 KB).

Disposal

Once you have identified the retention period from the disposal schedules, the appropriate disposal action will depend on whether the records are permanent records (PDF 112 KB) or temporary records. If the records are permanent, you will need to transfer them to the State Archives using an Application to Dispose of State Records.

If the records are temporary and you have confirmed that they are eligible for destruction, you will need to list the records and the reference numbers from the disposal schedules in a form called a Records Destruction Request (RDQ) (MS Excel 40 KB). This must be approved by the Records Management Unit before you can destroy the records. Please see Information Sheet 3 (PDF 361 KB) for instructions on how to complete the form. Once you have destroyed the records, you will need to update your business area's Register of Records Destroyed (MS Excel 41 KB) for the current year with the entries from the RDQ.

If you cannot identify an appropriate disposal class for the records, they may be unscheduled records. If this is the case, you will need to submit an Application to Dispose of State Records to the State Archivist requesting permission to either destroy or transfer the records.

For more information, please see:

A Register of Records Destroyed (RRD) is a form used to document the destruction of records and provide evidence that their destruction was authorised under an approved disposal schedule. It describes the records that were destroyed and the date range they fall within, as well as citing the disposal schedule(s) and disposal class(es) authorising their destruction. Each University business area is responsible for creating and maintaining an annual Register of Records Destroyed documenting the destruction of any non-ephemeral records that occurred that year, creating a new Register for each calendar year.

The Register itself is a permanent record (PDF 112 KB) (disposal class 2157/09.11.02) and must be approved and signed by the head of the business unit responsible for the records at the end of each year. It should be stored with the relevant business unit's other Registers for 25 years and then transferred to the State Archives.

For more information, please see:

Please note that the destruction of any University records must be authorised prior to destruction by either:

Paper records should be destroyed via shredding. Individual sheets may be passed through a cross-cutting paper shredder, while larger quantities should be placed in a locked bin for secure shredding by a commercial firm such as Veolia or Shred-X (this can be arranged through Campus Services). Paper-clips, staples and dog-clips should be removed from any documents prior to placing them in the shredding bin, as these may cause problems during the shredding process.

Electronic records should be destroyed by reformatting the disk or drive or overwriting the data using another technique that conforms to the Secure Disposal of ICT Equipment Procedure (PDF 97 KB). Simple deletion is insufficient, as this does not actually overwrite the information until the space is required, meaning that the information could still be retrieved for some time.

For other formats, contact the Disposal & Training Officer for advice.

For more information, please see Secure Disposal of ICT Equipment Procedure (PDF 97 KB).

Not unless your business unit has an approved digitisation program and you have been trained and authorised to digitise and destroy source records under that program. As records may need to be relied upon in court, there are a number of requirements that must be met in order for a scanned reproduction to be used as the official record and permit the destruction of the original. Chief among these is the requirement to capture the electronic reproduction in a formal recordkeeping system such as HPE RM, which is currently only possible at a limited number of business areas across the University.

For more information, please see:

Storing records

Inactive records are records that are no longer required on a daily basis, that have little if any use but are required to be retained before destruction or disposal. For example a research project that has finished but is required to be kept per the grant funding contract requirements.

These records may be located in a nominated secondary storage area be it physical or electronic. They should be listed by folder in a Register of Inactive Records (MS Excel 222 KB) along with key details such as the date range, location, security level, disposal class, retention period and review date.

For more information, please see:

A recordkeeping system is a system which captures, manages and provides access to records through time. Recordkeeping systems can be either electronic or paper-based. Managers and Heads of business units are required to establish and set up appropriate recordkeeping systems for their business unit to facilitate the collation and registration of University records.

All recordkeeping systems should:

  • routinely capture all records within the scope of the business activity it covers
  • organise the records in a way that reflects the business processes of the records creator
  • protect the records from unauthorised alteration, destruction or transfer
  • routinely function as the primary source of information about actions that are documented in the records
  • provide an audit trail of who has viewed or altered a record and when
  • provide ready access to all relevant records and related metadata
  • have accurately documented policies, assigned responsibilities and formal methodologies for its management

Some areas of the University have access to an electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) called HPE Records Manager (HPE RM). This system assists the management of business information, both physical and electronic including email, from creation or receipt to destruction or archiving. Control processes include classification and document registration, correspondence management, folder and action tracking, security and access, retention and disposal, auditing and archiving.

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Physical records need to be stored in an environment that is appropriate to the format they are in and organised to aid retrieval. For example, paper records need to be stored in a secure storage area with stable temperatures, located away from fire hazards and water pipes, in sturdy archival boxes and on shelving to prevent damage. Boxes should be Tasmanian Archive & Heritage Office preferred boxes (these can be ordered from Archival Survival or Zetta Florence) and given a unique number for quick identification. Boxes should have their items listed on an attached box list and a Register of Inactive Records (MS Excel 222 KB) should be maintained to track which items are stored in which boxes and storage areas, to enable easy retrieval.

Off site commercial storage is available to business areas that have a storage problem. The storage cost is funded centrally, but fees for services such as delivery and retrieval, reboxing, cataloguing and destruction are the responsibility of the business unit. The Records Management Unit currently recommends storing inactive records at either Grace Records Management or ZircoDATA (formerly known as Iron Mountain).

Contact the Disposal & Training Officer for contact details and/or more information.

For more information, please see:

Electronic records such as Microsoft Word documents, spreadsheets and emails should be stored in an electronic recordkeeping system if possible. If you have access to HPE RM, then you should capture any electronic records you create or receive into HPE RM. Financial records can be saved into TechOne.

If you don't have access to HPE RM or an approved electronic recordkeeping system, then you will have to store your records in a shared drive or in a secure wiki. While these are not true recordkeeping systems, there are still steps you can take to improve their recordkeeping characteristics and make them more compliant with the Archives Act.

For more information, please see:

Recordkeeping terminology

For a more complete listing, see the Tasmanian Archive & Heritage Office's Glossary

Capturing a record means preserving a complete and fixed impression of the information as it existed at a particular point in time, much as people sometimes refer to capturing a transitory moment in a photo. By capturing a snapshot of a document as a record, we can go back later to see what it looked like at the time it was captured, even if the document has been altered since.

We capture a record by "lodging [it] in a recordkeeping system and assigning metadata to describe the record and place it in context".

Appraisal is the process of evaluating records to determine which are to be retained as archives, which are to be kept for specified periods and which will be destroyed.

Sentencing is the process of identifying the disposal class a record belongs to and applying the disposal action specified in the relevant disposal schedule. Sentencing is the implementation of decisions made during appraisal.

Permanent records are records that are deemed to have long-term value even after their immediate value as evidence of business activities has faded, usually for their potential historical value.

They must not be destroyed! Instead, they must be retained for 25 years, after which they must be transferred to the Tasmanian Archive & Heritage Office for incorporation into the State Archives.

You may apply to the TAHO for permission to retain the records longer than 25 years if they are required for business reasons, or conversely, apply for earlier transfer, though the latter is unlikely to be approved given current storage constraints at the TAHO.

Temporary records are records that provide evidence of important business activities but are not deemed to have any long-term value once they are no longer needed for that purpose.

They must be kept for a finite retention period identified in an authorised disposal schedule, after which they can legally be destroyed. Note that this is only the legal requirement: subject to privacy requirements, you may retain temporary records after their retention period has expired if you wish to retain them to meet business needs.

Before destroying any temporary records (apart from ephemeral records), you will need to submit a draft Register of Records Destroyed to the Records Management Unit for approval, describing the records you wish to destroy and citing the disposal classes you believe authorise the destruction of the records.

Vital records are those records without which the University could not continue to operate and which contain information essential to effectively restore the University's business operations during or following a crisis, natural disaster, protracted network failure or similar exceptional event. They typically represent between 5-10% of University records.

Records can be divided into four categories of current business value:

  • vital records: those which are critical to operations and may be extremely difficult to replace, or incur a significant cost to reproduce
  • important records: those which could be recreated with some level of resources
  • useful records: those which would cause some inconvenience if lost but are replaceable
  • non-essential records: those which would not cause any impact to operations if lost (e.g. records relating to the publicising of past events or services organised by the agency or records due for disposal under an approved Retention and Disposal Schedule).

Vital records can be temporary records or permanent records: what makes a record vital is how critical it is to business operations right now, irrespective of what its value may be in the future. The category a given collection of records falls into can (and often does) change over time, with most vital records being active records. E.g., an agreement may be a vital record while in force, then becomes merely useful or non-essential once it expires.

Examples include records that contain information critical to:

  • emergency preparation and response
  • core business operations (i.e. critical client services)
  • protecting the legal and financial rights of the University
  • protecting the legal and financial rights of students and other University clients

For more information, see State Recordkeeping Advice 52: Identify and Managing Vital Records.

HPE Records Manager (HPERM)

HPE Records Manager (formerly known as TRIM) is an Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS) currently in use at some University business areas. An EDRMS is a system which captures, manages and provides access to records and information over time, ensuring their integrity, authenticity and accessibility. HPE RM can be used to capture, manage and track both physical and electronic records.

Business areas wishing to request HPE RM access may use the Application for HPRM Access form (PDF 736 KB), but should be aware that HPE RM is currently rolled out to new business areas on a case by case basis. A business case is required to substantiate the need for a roll-out to an additional area and a formalised project will be set up to support planning and implementation. Please note that the Records Management Unit has limited resources to implement and support large installations, so consultants may need to be engaged to assist with business analysis, configuration and training requirements.

For more information, please see:

If the HPE Records Manager add-in isn't visible in Outlook in the "Add-Ins" tab of the main window or the "HPE Records Manager" tab of a message window, there are a few possible explanations.

If a colleague with HPE RM access can't see a record or folder you have referred them to, it's probably because they don't have the appropriate permissions. This might be because they don't have a high enough Security Level or the appropriate caveats (e.g. Commercial-in-Confidence), in which case they are probably not supposed to have access, but it may also be because the Access Controls for the record or folder have been incorrectly configured.

To be able to see a record or folder in HPE RM, the user or a group they are a member of must be added to the "View Metadata" Access Control list for the record or folder. To be able to view an electronic document attached to a record, they must also be added to the "View Document" Access Control list.

You can view the Security Level, Caveats and Access Controls for a record or folder by opening its Properties and clicking the "Update Security and Access Policy" tab. If you have the appropriate permissions, you can edit these settings from the same dialog box, otherwise you will need to ask your HPE RM Liaison Officer (if you have one) or the Records Management Unit for help.

For more information, please see: