Records Management

The College established a Records Retention Schedule that defines the requirements for maintaining records for purposes of legal actions or defense, administrative and historical needs, educational records for students, personnel records for employees, and records required for compliance related matters. All persons are entitled access to college documents containing information related to the affairs of the College and the official actions of those individuals who act as its trustees and employees, in accordance with provisions of the Public Information Act of the State of Maryland. After college records have fulfilled their business purpose and are no longer useful, they are to be systematically disposed in accordance with the records retention schedule and procedures.

Records Retention Schedule

The Records Retention Schedule designates the appropriate length of time to maintain official records as determined by the administrative, fiscal, and legal needs of the College.  The Schedule applies to Records in all formats, including electronic records and electronic storage.

The major objectives of the Schedule are:

  • To ensure the proper retention of records for their legal, administrative, fiscal, and historical value.
  • To provide for a systematic disposal of all records as soon as they have fulfilled their usefulness.
  • To provide the record series titles, a brief description of the series, a specified retention period, and disposition for all of the College's official records.

The Records Retention Schedule is divided into sections specific to each College office and department. Each schedule identifies and briefly describes all official records series and establishes a timetable governing the disposition of the records. Only official paper records that are represented in the Schedule should be sent to Records Management for off-site storage. Note: It is not necessary to store the paper copy of a record if the Office stores the record electronically.

On the Schedule, the term “retention” underneath the series description denotes the total minimum life span of that record series. The schedule specifies how long the record series is to be retained in various locations, including office, offsite storage, (Paper only) or special collections.

The goals of records management are to:

  • Provide the right information at the right time to the right person at the lowest cost possible.
  • Retain records for the required period of time and destroy records when they become obsolete.

Records management is the responsibility of every College office and department and every College employee.
If you have College records or items that you believe may be of historical or archival value, please see the Special Collections website at http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/libraries/archives.html.

Records Management Procedures and Forms

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Records Management Basics

Q: What is Records Management?

A: Records Management is the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use, and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records. In the course of your work, you likely handle College records, and it is important that you understand how to manage these records in accordance with the College Records Retention Schedule and in compliance with laws and regulations that govern higher education.


Q: Records Management is new to me. How do I begin?

A: Start by reviewing the Records Management materials at: https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/offices/administrative-and-fiscal-services/records-management/index.html and contact OIT Records Management Office.


Q: What is a ‘record’?


A: A record is recorded information, regardless of medium or characteristics, created or received by an organization in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. Records Management is concerned with the record copy which is defined as the original or official copy of a record that is retained for legal, administrative, or historical purposes by the originating office (i.e., the ‘office of record’).

Additional important things to know about records:

  • Exact copies of an official record used by offices, other than the “office of record,” are considered duplicate, reference records (i.e., reference copy). Only the official copy of a record is covered by the records retention schedule, and all duplicates can be destroyed when no longer needed.
  • Records that are considered “in progress” or drafts are not considered official records after the document has been finalized, and in progress version can be destroyed.


Q: Are there different types of records?

A: Yes. Records management is concerned with the following categories of records:

  • Active records include any records needed to perform current operations, subject to frequent use, and usually located for ease of access. Continue to retain all active records until they become inactive.
  • Inactive records are records that are no longer actively used, have fulfilled their original purposes, but are being retained for a finite period for administrative, fiscal, or legal purposes. These records can be sent to Records Management for off-site storage.
  • Nonrecords may be disposed of as soon as you no longer need them. Nonrecords are not considered official College records because they were not created or received by a college office/department in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. Therefore, these records are excluded from records management policies, procedures, and guidelines. Examples of non-records include: library materials used for reference; unsolicited brochures, catalogs, pamphlets and the like; unsolicited documents or messages with no substantive business value; list serve and news groups messages/documents; excess inventory of annual reports, bulletins, brochures, etc. (i.e., copies); blank forms; drafts of documents after the final version is completed; etc.
  • Permanent and historical records are documents created or received and accumulated by a person or office/department in the course of the conduct of affairs and preserved because of their continuing value. The MC library manages the College’s special collections of archival, historical records. If you believe that you have historical materials, contact the records management office or the library staff for advice regarding archival of permanent records.


Q: Do records management requirements apply only to paper records?

A: All college records, including electronic records, microforms, and audio-visual materials, are subject to records management and are governed by the College Records Retention Schedule. For example, an email message may constitute a record that the college created or received in the course of business and thus retains ongoing administrative value. Thus, this email message must be retained in accordance with the College Records Retention Schedule.

Q: Are College records considered public records?

A: Yes. Pursuant to College Policy 68004, Inspection of Public Records, the Board of Trustees recognizes that all persons are entitled access to information through existing documents regarding the affairs of the College and the official acts of those individuals who act as its trustees and employees, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Information Act of the State of Maryland. Refer to this policy or contact the General Counsel with any questions you may have.

Responsibilities

Q: Who is responsible for Records Management?

A: Every employee of the College is responsible for managing the records that are involved in their job function. Each office and department shall name a Records Management Point of Contact (RM POC). The RM POC coordinates the management of records for an office and/or department, but each employee who handles records needs to understand how the college manages its records and adhere to the College Record Retention Schedule. When you are ready to prepare record center cartons, coordinate with your PM POC for maintenance of the sequential carton numbers and the Records Log maintained in your office/department.

 

Q: What are the responsibilities of the Records Management office?

A: The Records Management office is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the records management program of the College. The work of the Records Management office is to:

  • Assist offices with the maintenance of the College’s records retention schedule and post the official schedule on the College’s web page,
  • Create and maintain instructions for offsite storage of the College's records hard copy,
  • Manage the transfer and retrieval of the College Office’s hard copy records from and to offsite records storage,
  • Initiate requests for approval from College offices/departments for destruction of their records (stored offsite) when the retention term for these records has expired,
  • Authorize the offsite storage vendor to destroy and certify the destruction of the records – only after receipt of destruction approvals from the offices/departments who own the records,
  • Maintain the certificates of record destruction,
  • Manage the offsite storage vendor contract, and
  • Complete updates to the vendor-supplied records management database to track the offsite records inventory, destructions, billing, etc.,


Q: What are the responsibilities of a college offices and departments?

A: All College offices and departments are accountable and responsible for managing their records in accordance with the College Records Retention Schedule and in compliance with Federal and State laws and all regulations specific to their office/department. Each office and department is responsible for the college records for which they are the Office of Record. College offices and departments are accountable and responsible for:

  • Knowing the policies, laws and regulations to which they must comply in regards to their records,
  • Designing and implementing effective and efficient record management practices within their office/department in accordance with the College policies and procedures and the Record Management office processes and instructions,
  • Providing appropriate training on their records management practices to the employees of the office/department,
  • Maintaining a current inventory of records they handle,
  • Working in conjunction with the Records Management office to update the College’s records retention schedule on a regular basis and reporting changes to their schedule throughout the year to the Records Management office,
  • Appointing records management point(s) of contact (employees who are knowledgeable about the records of the office/department and serve as the point of contact between the office/department and the Records Management office), and
  • Maintaining proper documentation for records destroyed in-house and filing the proper certifications of destruction with the Records Management office.


Q: What is the Records Management Point of Contact (POC) and what does this person do?

A: Each College office and department is to name one Records Management point of contact person. The POC is to be an employee who is knowledgeable about the records of the office/department and will serve as the point of contact between the office/department and the Records Management office. The POC maintains the Log of Records sent to offsite storage and knows the next sequential number to be assigned to new record cartons.

Records Retention

Q: What is the College Records Retention Schedule? Where can I find it?

A: A records retention schedule is a comprehensive list of records series, indicating the length of time each series is to be maintained and its disposition. The College has a records retention schedule that is organized by office or department and lists the record series (i.e. the categories of records) for which the office/department is the office of record. You can find the College Records Retention Schedule at: https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/offices/administrative-and-fiscal-services/records-management/index.html


Q: What is a record series?

A: A record series is a group or category of related records filed/used together as a unit and evaluated as a unit for retention purposes, e.g., a personnel file consisting of an application, reference letters, and benefit forms. The record series is to be retained for an established length of time as indicated in the Records Retention Schedule; and this length of time applies to all records under this series.


Q: What if I have records that are not on the Records Retention Schedule?

A: If your office/department creates or receives records, in any form, in pursuance of legal obligations or the transaction of the academic and administrative business of the College that are not on the Records Retention Schedule, you are required to contact the Records Management Office who will assist you in revising your unit’s portion of the records retention schedule.


Q: How long must a college record be retained?

A: College Official Records are to be retained as long as the College Records Retention Schedule specifies. Note: there may be special circumstances that make it necessary to retain your records beyond the normal retention period. This includes records involved in an ongoing or pending lawsuit (i.e., legal hold), records with special audit requirements, and certain records involving federal funds. If this is a new records requirement based on a change in college policy or change in laws or regulations, you are required to contact the Records Management Office who will assist you in revising your unit’s portion of the records retention schedule. If it is a temporary situation, such as a legal hold or audit, the records can be disposed of according the schedule after completion of the pending audit or litigation.

Q: Why can't the college records be retained longer than the retention schedule specifies?

A: Unless there are special circumstances that make it necessary to retain your records beyond the normal retention period, temporary, inactive records should be disposed of promptly and in accordance with the retention schedule. There are disadvantages, including storage costs and certain legal risks, associated with random and/or undocumented divergence from a records management schedule.


Q: What is a record hold (also referred to as ‘legal hold’ or ‘destruction hold’) and when does it apply?

A: A record hold is a communication issued as a result of anticipated or current litigation, audit, government investigation, or other such matter that suspends the normal disposition or processing of records. Records that are subject to a hold must not be destroyed until the completion of the action and the resolution of all issues that arise from it regardless of the retention period set forth in the schedule.

Electronic Records and E-mail Management

Q: What about electronic or imaged records?

A: The definition of a record includes data generated, stored, received, or communicated by electronic means for use by, or storage in, an information system or for transmission from one information system to another. That is, Information maintained in electronic format has the same records status as a paper hard. Electronic records are subject to the records retention schedule based on its content.


Q: What about documents that my office/department is imaging? Do we have to keep both the paper and the electronic versions?

A: It is important that you retain one copy for the specified retention period. If you have scanned the paper document, you may destroy it and retain the electronic record for the full retention period, unless specified otherwise by law or regulation.


Q: Can I burn records to a CD or DVD for long-term storage?

A: CDs and DVDs are not recommended for retention periods longer than 5 years. It is a better option to store long-term records on a shared network drive that your office/department has established for this purpose.

Offsite Storage of Records

Q: Are there records that should not be sent to records management for offsite storage?

A: Yes. Do not retain nonrecords longer than necessary. These records can be purged when no longer needed; and these records should never be sent to records management for offsite storage. (Refer to the question "Are there different types of Records? " for a definition of 'non records'.)

Q: What type of cartons should I use to pack up inactive paper records? Where do I get these cartons?

A: The Records Management Office will provide you with free cartons. These cartons are the only type of cartons in which records can be stored at the offsite records facility.


Q: How do I prepare the cartons for off-site storage?

A: Follow the instructions in the Procedures for Records Management guide on the Records Management web page.


Q: Can I retrieve records from off-site storage? How?

A: Yes. Use the Carton/File Retrieval Request form, and email it to the Records Management office. The office will process the request and the carton/file(s) will be delivered directly to your location.

Records Disposal

Q: When can I destroy records?

A: Each record series listed on the Records Retention Schedule has specific instructions for how long the records need to be retained by your office/department. Identify the record series of the records you wish to destroy and calculate if the records have met their retention period. If you have questions, please contact the Records Management office.


Q: How should I destroy records?

A: Official College records that have fulfilled the required retention period, and are not subject to a hold for legal or audit purposes are to be destroyed in a timely manner. The destruction of official records will occur one of two ways.

  • Destruction of Records held in the office or department should be approved by the College employee who oversees the office/department, and the destruction should be memorialized to document the date and types of records that were destroyed on the Certificate of In-House Records Destruction (Send to the Records Management Office).
    NOTE: records which contain confidential information should be securely destroyed by shredding, confidential recycling, or electronic secure destruction.

  • For records held at the offsite storage records center, the Records Management office will send a list of cartons whose retention period has expired to the owner office/department requesting authorization to destroy these cartons. It is important that the request for authorization to destroy expired records be handled in a timely manner so that the College remains in compliance with its Records Retention Schedule.


Q: Are there times when I should not destroy records according to the Records Retention Schedule?

A: Yes. There are events that suspend the destruction of records. These events include anticipated or current litigation, audit, government investigation, or other such matter that suspends the normal disposition or processing of records.

Records Management Services Contact Information

Q: How do I contact Records Management Services?

A: Records Management Services is located in the Office of Technolorg, Central Services Building.

You can contact Records Management by email: Records@montgomerycollege.edu.

Historical, Archival Records

Q: What do I do with records that I think might be of archival, historical value?

A: Contact Special Collections within the Rockville Library, Shelly Jablonski.

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