Information Technologies

Electronic Mail Management and Retention

Section: Information Technology Policies
Policy Name: Electronic Mail Management and Retention
Policy Owner: Executive Vice President
Responsible University Office: Information Technologies
Origination Date: February 2000
Revisions: July 1, 2005
Legacy Policy Number: 1-18
  1. INTRODUCTIONThe use of e-mail, as a recorded medium, carries with it all the responsibilities set forth in the University’s Records Management Program. It is the intent of this policy to specifically address e-mail message disposition responsibilities. The University provides e-mail to employees to conduct the business of the institution and, in so doing, expects employees to manage and protect records resulting from e-mail communications. The following policy advises University employees and departmental management of their responsibilities regarding the creation of e-mail messages; the routine removal of messages from electronic file folders; and, the storage and retention of electronic mail messages which are official University of Delaware records.

    While not all e-mail communications are records, all e-mail communications are subject to discovery and can be used as electronic evidence in the event of litigation. Discovery is the legal process that permits parties involved in a legal proceeding to obtain records and information relevant to the proceeding that are in the possession of another party. Unmanaged and unidentified e-mail records residing on University computers also pose a threat to the University’s ability to document and reconstruct business and decision-making processes.

    To help you meet the responsibilities defined by this policy, educational material, training, and technology support will be available to guide your compliance.
  2. POLICYIt is the policy of the University of Delaware that employees may not retain e-mail messages in their electronic inboxes longer than one year. Messages having value beyond one year must be stored in a file structure or medium that lends itself to records retention audit procedures. E-mail messages fall into three categories:
    1. Records as defined by University policy, which document the business of the University, such as an approval to initiate a business transaction, and should be saved pursuant to the University’s Departmental Information and Records Management Policies.
    2. Messages that have limited or transitory value to the University, such as a message announcing the date and time of a meeting, need not be saved pursuant to policy.
    3. Non-Records, such as lunch arrangements between friends, etc. All e-mail, including personal use of e-mail, is subject to the University’s Employee’s Use of Electronic Communications.

      Electronic mail records are subject to the University’s Departmental Information and Records Management Policies and to the records retention schedules that have been established for each University Department. Any e-mail message containing information that documents the business of the University, which has value beyond one year, must be moved to an auditable file structure, such as an electronic file designated as containing a record series, or a paper document file in an auditable paper series.

      The responsibility for compliance with this policy lies with each University of Delaware employee. It is the responsibility of departmental management to develop internal procedures to ensure compliance.