Key terms: Inventory | Records Series | General Records Retention Schedule | Life Cycle

Administrative Records

Records which document the operation and internal administration of an office; usually distinguished from program records that relate to the office's primary functions.

Archival Records

Archival records are those which have enduring value and are preserved for reference and research purposes because they reflect significant events or document the history and development of the University.


A repository for archival records.

Backing up

Making a copy of a computer file for use if the original is lost, damaged, or destroyed.


An event or date when the records become inactive and when the retention period begins. This may be an event such as the termination of a contract, or a date such as the beginning of a new fiscal, academic, or calendar year.


The process of destroying obsolete records. By law, public records cannot be destroyed without approval of the State Records Committee.


Any means of changing the custody, form or existence of non-current records, which includes their transfer, microfilming, or disposal.

Disposition Authority Number

Each records series reviewed by the State Records Committee is assigned a disposition authority number to show that the disposition of the documents in the series has been approved by the committee.

Essential (or Vital) Records

Records that are essential to resume or continue operations of the university; those necessary to recreate the university's legal and financial position; and/or to fulfill obligations to the university, its employees, students, and outside interests.

Function/ Purpose

The description of the function of the records series; i.e., how the records are used in the office and for what purpose.

General Records Retention Schedule

A retention schedule governing the disposition of records series that are common to many offices in an agency (as compared to a records retention schedule which governs the disposition of records series unique to one office).

Hard Copy

Recorded information copied from a computer onto paper or some other durable surface, such as microfilm.


A survey of records conducted prior to the development of a records retention schedule. It lists each records series giving such data as title, inclusive dates, quantity, arrangement, relationships to other series, and description of significant subject content.

Life Cycle of Records

The management concept that records pass through three stages: creation, maintenance and use, and disposition.

Medium (Media)

The physical form of recorded information. Includes paper, film, disk, magnetic tape, and other materials on which information can be recorded.


A generic term for any media or form containing microimages.


Material that does not need to be filed and that can be destroyed after it has served its purpose. This includes drafts, worksheets, routine replies, and extra copies of documents created for convenience.

OFM (Office Files and Memoranda)

OFM are copies of "OPRs"and all other documentation. They include records made for the internal administration of an office, but not required by law to be kept or filed.

OPR (Official Public Record)

OPRs are the "official" or "primary" copies of records that a) are identified and required by statute, b) document legal actions or transactions, or c) fiscally or financially obligate the University as a whole. OPR records have a minimum retention period of six years.

Optical Disk (OD)

A noncontact, random-access disk tracked by optical laser beams and used for mass storage and retrieval of digitized text and graphics. Types include WORM (write once read many), CD-ROM (compact disk-read only memory), and CD compact disk (interactive), and erasable optical disks.

Output Records

Information generated by a computer and placed on an outside medium, such as paper, microform, or an electronic storage medium.

Program Records

Records documenting the unique, substantive functions for which an office is responsible, in contrast to administrative records. See also Administrative Records.

Proprietary Records

Records containing information of a confidential or highly sensitive nature, requiring destruction by shredding to eliminate the possibility of illegal or undesirable disclosure.

Public Record

Public records shall include any correspondence, photograph, film, sound recording, map drawing, or other documents, regardless of physical form or characteristics and including all copies thereof, that have been made by or received by any agency of the State of Washington in connection with the transaction of public business. (RCW 40.14)


Recorded information of any kind and in any form.

Records Center

A low cost storage facility or centralized location that is used for organized storage of inactive records retained for administrative or operating purposes, usually for a limited period of time.

Records Coordinator

The individual responsible for an office's records management procedures, including files organization and maintenance, records inventorying, records transfer, and records destruction.

Records Management

The application of systematic and scientific control to recorded information required in the operation of an organization's business.

Records Series

A group of documents which perform a specific function in an office. They may be filed as a unit, used as a unit, and transferred and disposed of as a unit. A records series may consist of copies of a single form or may be comprised of various types of documents.

Records Transmittal

The document used to prepare lists of records transferred for storage.

Retention Period

The length of time the records series must be retained before it is eligible for destruction or archival preservation. The retention period begins as the files are "cut-off," at a specified time, such as calendar year for correspondence, or fiscal year for most financial records, or with a specific action or event that makes the files inactive (such as termination of employment for some personnel records).

Records Retention Schedule

A comprehensive schedule of records series by department, indicating for each series the length of time it is to be maintained in office areas, or records centers, and when and if such series may be microfilmed, destroyed or transferred to an archives. Retention schedules are authorized by the State Records Committee.

State Records Committee

The committee consists of representatives of the Offices of Attorney General, Financial Management, State Auditor, and the State Archivist. The committee is authorized by RCW 40.14 to oversee a state-wide records management program and to approve records retention schedules for all state agencies and higher education institutions.

Text Documents

Narrative or tabular documents, such as letters, memorandums, and reports, organized in a loosely prescribed form and format.


The act or process of moving records from one location to another, especially from office space to a records center.

Transitory Records

Routine correspondence and documents with temporary usefulness and short-term value.

Word Processing

Creating and modifying documents by using a computer, along with other hardware and related software.