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Official Public Records

What is a Public Record?

“Any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to received a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.” [CGS 1-200 (5)]

In laymens terms, public records include documented information that is created and received to further public business. UConn is a Connecticut State Agency, which means with limited exceptions we are subject to the rules regarding public records.

What does ” Official Record Copy” refer to?

The Office of the Public Records Administrator defines the official record copy as “the specific copy of a public record, as provided in CGS Sec. 1-200(5), designated by the public agency as the legally recognized copy that must be maintained for records retention, preservation and authentication.” If there are several duplicates across departments and/or the University, think of the “record copy” as the master/authoritative copy. The official record copy of a public record is subject to record retention requirements and pre-disposal authorization, whereas duplicates may usually be destroyed when no longer administratively useful and without permission.

To learn how to determine if you or your department is responsible for the record copy, download the tutorial “What is the Copy of Record?”. Still not sure? Contact us for help.

If you determine you have the official record copy, this makes you… The Record Custodian-“the individual or organization having possession of and responsibility for the care and control of material.” [Source: Society of American Archivists (SAA).]  You or someone with equal charge will be responsible for signing and submitting the destruction authorization form after the records have met their minimum retention requirement.
  

What constitutes a “non-record?”

The physical characteristics of non-record materials are the same as record materials. The differences between a non-record and a record are the reasons for keeping the information and how the information is used. Now, more and more information is kept in a non-paper format. When you examine the records kept by an office, you may find that information is kept in marchine-readable format as well as hard copy. Employees are responsible for distinguishing between the record and the non-record copy.

The (non-record) examples listed below can be used to distinguish records from non-record items:

  • Extra copies kept only for convenience.
  • Informational copies of correspondence and other papers on which no documented administrative action is taken.
  • Duplicate copies of documents maintained in the same file.
  • Requests from the public for basic information such as manuals and forms that do not have any administrative retention requirements.
  • Transmittal letters that do not add information to that contained in the transmitted material.
  • Reproduced or published material received from other offices which requires no action and is not required for documentary purposes. The originating agency is required to maintain the record copy.
  • Catalogs, trade journals, and other publications or papers received which require no action and are not part of a case upon which foreseeable action will be taken.
  • Library or museum material collected for informational or exhibition purposes.
  • Stocks of publications, forms, or other printed documents which become obsolete or outdated due to revision. The originating agency should maintain a record copy.
  • Working papers, preliminary drafts, or other material summarized in final or other form and which have no value once action has been taken.

Other Key Terms

Record series –A group of similar or related records that are normally used and filed as a unit and can be evaluated as a unit for determinig the record retention period. All of the records that make up a record series must have the same retention periods. You cannot break up a record series into individual records and give each record a different retention period.

Records Retention Schedule –A comprehensive list of record series which indicates for each series the length of time it is to be maintained until it is reviewed for destruction or archival retention. It also indicates retention in active and inactive storage areas.

Additional related terms are defined at http://www.ctstatelibrary.org/sites/default/files/publicrecords/rm-terms-201401.pdf .