17.3 Definition and Identification of Records

Records are anything containing information which is made, produced, executed, or received in connection with the transactions and official activities of the University or executed in the conduct of University business, including research, teaching, service, and administration. Examples include documents, books, paper, electronic records, photographs, videos, sound recordings, databases, and other data compilations that are used for multiple purposes, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics.

Records can be divided into two categories: 1) Official, and 2) Transitory/Convenience.

  1. "Official records" are:
    1. records having the legally recognized and judicially enforceable quality of establishing some fact, policy, or institutional position or decision.
    2. the single official copy of a document maintained on file by an administrative unit of the University which is usually, but not always, the original.
    3. subject to the records retention requirements included in the Records Management Program and Retention Schedule.
  2. "Transitory/convenience records" are:
    1. duplicate copies of official records.
    2. extra copies of documents or records created or preserved for convenient access and/or for reference, including computer backups and duplicate computer files. (See University of Iowa IT Backup and Recovery Policy for specifics on electronic record backup.)
    3. miscellaneous correspondence without official significance.
    4. versions or drafts of reports, memos, word processing files, letters, messages, or communication (electronic or otherwise) that are used to develop a final official document.
    5. records that do not carry a requirement for retention and should be destroyed when they cease to be useful (using secure destruction methods if they contain confidential information).

Either official or transitory/convenience records may contain confidential information. Confidential information is information of various sorts that the University receives and holds confidential unless otherwise ordered by a court, by the lawful custodian of the records or by another person duly authorized to release such information. Examples include: student records, medical records, personnel records, etc. (See Iowa Code 22.7, Confidential Records.) University faculty and staff should determine if records contain confidential information when conducting an inventory of departmental records and maintain and dispose of them accordingly.

Either official or transitory/convenience records may also contain vital information. Vital information is considered essential for the operations of a department (and/or the University) and includes information that may prevent a department from incurring serious liability or risk, or that would be extremely costly to replace. In the event of a disaster, this information, if destroyed, would make it difficult for a department to conduct normal business activities. University faculty and staff should determine if records contain vital information and maintain and dispose of them accordingly.

Any record, official or transitory/convenience, may be considered a public record; however, not all public records are subject to release (see University of Iowa Public Records page or Iowa Code 22.7).