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Guidelines Record Keeping Tips

Guidelines – Record Keeping Tips

  1. Don't keep and file transitory records

  2. Transitory records are records that have only short–term, immediate value to your office, or that you will not need again in the future.

    (See the Guideline – Transitory Records for more information)

    Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. F-25, all records in the custody or under the control of Athabasca University (AU) are subject to the Act. This includes transitory records.

    Keeping and filing transitory records results in a waste of staff and funding resources for filing, storing, searching and disposing of records that should not of been kept or filed in the first place. In the event of a FOIP request, these records would have to be reviewed the same as any other records found in the custody or under the control of AU. In some cases, this could result in a lot of extra work for staff during the reviewing of records process when handling a FOIP request.

    It is recommended that transitory records only be kept for the time they are required, not filed, and disposed of accordingly.

  3. Manage your E-mail

  4. Under the FOIP Act, e-mail is considered to be a record and should be managed as any other record. It is best to manage them as you receive or create them. Depending on your office file management procedures, file the e-mail into its electronic file folder, or print out, file in paper file folder and delete it from the system.

    E-mails that are considered to be transitory records, should be deleted after they serve their purpose.

    Practicing good records management with e-mails lessens the impact of having to search and retrieve e-mails in the event of a FOIP request.

  5. Manage your incoming mail

  6. Incoming mail received from internal and external sources needs to be opened, reviewed and dealt with in a timely manner. It is very possible that any staff member in AU could receive a FOIP request. If this is the case, the request needs to be forwarded to the Privacy and Policy Coordinator ASAP and dealt with in a specific time period as outlined by the FOIP Act.

    It is strongly recommended that each and every staff member open, review and determine what is required for each piece of incoming mail in a timely manner (each working day) or arrange for someone else to deal with your mail when you are away.

    Upon opening and reviewing, it is best to determine what is the value the record, what needs to be done, and what the final disposition of the record is. Many items may be considered to be transitory and can be disposed of upon review. Some items, you may wish to refer to later, and therefore, should be filed. Again, dealing with the items as they arrive will save you time later, and in the event of a FOIP request will lessen the amount of records that need to be reviewed.

  7. Creating records

  8. When creating a record (writing a memo, a letter, an e-mail, a report) always keep in mind that the record could be subject to a FOIP request.

    Organize the information in the record to enable severing when personal information is involved.

    If the information is confidential, clearly label the document as such.

    If the information is draft, clearly label the document as such.

    Avoid quoting another individual unless they have consented to you quoting them.

    Do not create a record unless there is a need for the creation.

  9. Recording meeting minutes

  10. Meeting minutes are considered to be a record under the FOIP Act and could be subject to a FOIP access request.

    Meeting minutes should not record every discussion as verbatim. They should only include concise statements about each issue discussed. Don't quote anyone unless they have asked to have their point recorded in the minutes.

  11. Applying reasonable security measures to records that contain personal information

  12. If you have records that contain personal information, are sensitive or of a confidential nature, you must apply reasonable security measures to protect the privacy of individuals or AU.

    If you receive such documents, store them in a manner that does not allow for unauthorized access.

    If you are sending such a document, place it in an envelope and seal it. If the document is being sent by internal mail, place it in a sealed envelope first. Clearly label the envelope to be confidential.

    Do not leave this type of document in open filing trays or areas that anyone walking by can access at a glance the information in the document.

  13. Dealing with records considered to have value

    Deal with the records you receive and create in a timely manner. If the records are deemed to have value, decide on the disposition of the record and file accordingly. Organize your area to accommodate the records you receive and create. If necessary create a filing list to assist you in the future with filing records.

  14. Annual inventories of records should be conducted to ensure information and records that no longer have any value are not being retained and taking up storage space.

    Sort, organize, and file records regularly. The longer you put it off, the harder it is to remember what the value is or if it had a value.

    Regular filing enables staff to locate and retrieve information and records in a timely manner. Also, it avoids records having to be duplicated each time someone requires the information.


Office of the University Secretariat, July 2006

Updated May 30 2014 by Office of the University Secretariat

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