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Records Management

What are Records?

Generally, records are information that either results from the conduct of an official activity, or that is employed in the course of planning and/or decision making prior to such activity. As an agency of the State of Kansas, KU creates and utilizes state government records. Consequently, the University is required to develop and to maintain a records management program that ensures the preservation of state government records.

A more formal definition of a record in this context is found in the Government Records Preservation Act (K.S.A. 45, Sec.402-d):

"Government records" means all volumes, documents, reports, maps, drawings, charts, indexes, plans, memoranda, sound recordings, microforms, photographic records and other data, information or documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, storage media or condition of use, made or received by an agency in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of official business of bearing upon the official activities and function of any governmental agency.

Examples of records are found throughout the University. The following are non-exhaustive examples of the functions to create or utilize the information reflected in records at KU and other universities:

  • Student administration (grades, financial aid information, health information, … )
  • Research administration (grant application process information, award management data, findings, … )
  • Academic administration (course catalogs and lists, library patron information, … )
  • General administration (human resources information, financial/budget information, affiliates, … )

It is important to remember that records include relevant information in all formats.

What is Records Management?

A significant component of information management involves the management of records. Records Management is a program of activities and resources that enables us to address all aspects of the life cycle of records: creation, identification, archiving, preserving and destruction.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) defines records management as “… the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence and information about the business activities and transactions in the form of records.” [ISO 15489]

Records Management at KU – Then and Now?

KU has a long history of managing its records. The University Archives has gathered, organized, and preserved KU’s official record since its inception in 1969. Prior to that time, departments around KU attempted to manage records locally as best as possible. Unfortunately, many early records were lost in the absence of coordination. However, some early KU documents were identified and kept by various offices and eventually brought to the Archives for proper preservation and storage.

The proliferation of electronic information and ‘born digital’ records now presents another challenge – integrating electronic records into the processes that protect and preserve them as evidence of the University’s activities.

What are the benefits of Records Management?

A program to manage KU’s large and complex body of records is an institution-wide undertaking that will involve considerable time and effort. There are a number of important benefits to KU in this challenging endeavor:

  • Complies with required state mandates to establish and maintain systematic records management;
  • Promotes appropriate access to information supporting university functions and decision making;
  • Reduces risk to the university by promoting secure handling and management of protected and mission-critical information assets;
  • Reduces risk to persons and entities associated with the university by reducing unauthorized access to private information;
  • Promotes staff confidence in their handling and custodianship of records by establishing effective practices and policies;
  • Provides documentation and location of university information in the event of legal or other official inquiry or action;
  • Provides critical information support for operational continuity in the event of disaster or crisis;
  • Protects and preserves information for historical and institutional research;
  • Allows for better space and technology resource management by defining the appropriate removal and disposition of records no longer required for current operations;
  • Promotes general operational efficiency by minimizing departmental guesswork and duplication of effort in records description, control, and storage.

What is involved in Records Management?

Several activities or tasks are characteristic of a sustained records management program. These include:

  • Records Inventory/Survey – Identification of the University’s records, their location, use, format, access restrictions/requirements, and other pertinent characteristics.
  • Retention and Disposition Schedule – Articulates the length of retention in active or inactive storage prior to destruction or permanent retention. These periods vary depending on the nature of the records, their active useful life, and legal/statutory limitations that may apply to retention.
  • Training – Ensuring that staff has sufficient knowledge of records handling and retention requirements.
  • Policy – Development and implementation of effective policies to ensure compliance with retention and destruction requirements, as well as for storing records for long-term preservation.

What are the roles associated with Records Management (and how does it affect me)?

There are several roles played in records management across the university. Records management is everyone’s business, as most of the university’s faculty and staff (as well as many student workers) routinely interact with records. There are specific roles played that illustrate the breadth of records management at KU.

  • Information Custodians. Everyone who encounters records in the performance of their work at KU is a custodian of the records they use, create, interpret, transmit, or dispose of.
  • Information Stewards. Typically senior administrators and academic leaders (Dean level) who have responsibility for major functional areas relying on and utilizing information to perform the university’s work. They have high-level responsibility for promoting awareness and compliance with relevant practices and policies related to records management.
  • Information Management Policy Group. High-level administrative and academic representatives providing institution-wide perspective and advice in policy development and program outcomes evaluation of the Information Management Program (including Records Management).
  • Records Officer. Required by state statute, the Records Officer provides leadership and oversight of records management activities involving state government records (inventory, retention schedule, training, and policy) in association with others described above.
  • Privacy Officer. Required by some federal and state statutes, the Privacy Officer oversees compliance with Federal, state and local law and regulations, including training and education, on the privacy of records. Additionally this person handles the issues surrounding breach, theft or loss of records that are created, used, or managed by the university and its constituents.


Who is Responsible for Records Management?
Primary responsibility for records management program and the activities associated with it lies with Information Services and the Office of the Vice Provost and Chief Information Officer (who serves as KU’s Records Officer). Because of the broad nature of this work, collaboration across KU is an essential requirement of a successful and sustained records management effort.

For more information about Records Management at KU, please contact informationmanagement@ku.edu.

KU Record Retention Schedule:

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