Electronic Records & Scanning
Are the documents and other records on my computer also "public records"?
Yes, the Virginia Public Records Act states:
Regardless of physical form or characteristics, the recorded information is a public record if it is produced, collected, received or retained in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of public business. The medium upon which such information is recorded has no bearing on the determination of whether the recording is a public record.
Do I have to keep the electronic version of a record and a paper version?
Records that your office has in both electronic and paper formats which are exact duplicates should both be destroyed once they have met the retention periods in the Records Retention and Disposition Schedules approved by the Library of Virginia. You may destroy one format of the records (either paper or electronic) if you plan to retain the other for the retention periods listed in the schedule. If you have scanned the paper records and plan to destroy the paper, please review We have an imaging system. Do we have to keep the paper? below before destroying paper records after imaging.
Computer storage is cheap. I’ll just keep my computer records.
The best practice is to destroy all records that have met their retention requirements at the same time, regardless of format. Records in paper and electronic formats that have met their retention period but continue to be kept are still subject to public inspection, audit and litigation/legal holds. Maintaining electronic records beyond their approved retention periods can be used to show lack of compliance with state laws and regulations in a legal or an audit proceeding.
We have an imaging system. Do we have to keep the paper?
No, however, records with retention of more than 5 years from creation and records which document financial, contractual or legal actions should be maintained in a "trustworthy” digital system. A "trustworthy" system is one that can prove that the digital copy is an exact duplicate of the original paper throughout its lifecycle. A digital copy (scanned image) can replace the original if held in a "trustworthy" digital system. Please contact the University Records Management Office (firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation to review the digital imaging system you are using/implementing or attend the training Going Paperless? Planning a Digital Imaging System. Paper records with a retention of permanent or with instructions to transfer to Library of Virginia/University Archives/Special Collections should not be destroyed after imaging before consulting with the University Records Management Office about Transfers to Special Collections.