FAQ – Electronic Messaging

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  • What are the retention requirements for E-Mail?

Section 2.90.10.b of the University policy manual states:

B. Records Retention: Statutory or other legal requirements provide that certain records be retained for specific periods of time. Some records and documents may have to be held in connection with regulatory directives or other business purposes; therefore, no records may be destroyed, except in accordance with applicable laws and NMSU policy and procedures. Email communications relating to university business are part of the university’s records and shall be retained depending upon the nature of the document, consistent with the retention requirements for that type of document.

Regulations concerning email are published in:

E-mail may include public records or transitory information. Only those e-mail classified as public records must be retained based on established retention periods published in:

The content of e-mail may vary considerably; therefore, each e-mail shall be evaluated to determine if it meets the definition of a public record as defined in the Public Records Act, Section 14-3-1 et seq. NMSA 1978 and 1.13.4 NMAC. Please see “Is It A Record?“. Non-records or transitory e-mail that do not provide evidence of official agency policies or business transactions may be deleted.

      1. E-mail as public records: E-mail and attachments identified as public records shall be retained and stored for as long as required under the appropriate retention period. E-mail that are public records include but are not limited to:
        1. policies and directives;
        2. correspondence or memoranda that contain final directives, determinations, instructions or guidance regarding public business;
        3. minutes of governing boards, advisory groups, ad-hoc committees or work groups developing programs;
        4. messages that authorize, establish or complete a business transaction; or
        5. final reports or recommendations such as to legislative committees or produced by task forces or study groups.
      2. Non-record and transitory e-mail: Non-record and transitory e-mail do not set policy, provide directives, establish guidelines or procedures nor do they certify transactions; they may be destroyed without the prior approval of the state records administrator. Non-record and transitory e-mail include but are not limited to:
        1. duplicate copies of messages sent to multiple people;
        2. personal messages and announcements not related to official agency business;
        3. preliminary drafts of letters, reports and memoranda;
        4. messages considered brainstorming or preliminary thought processes in nature, reflecting the exchange of ideas preliminary
          to the development of a final decision or position of the agency;
        5. transmittal e-mail that do not add substantive information to the attachment(s) being transmitted;
        6. copies of documents distributed for convenience or reference;
        7. announcements of social events, such as retirement parties;
        8. spam (unsolicited, commercial e-mail); and
        9. messages to or from e-mail distributions lists (listserv) not directly related to agency business.
      3. Steps to filing e-mail
        1. e-mail should be filed in a manner that enhances accessibility and assists in records management and retention.
        2. e-mail should be categorized according to the NMAC’s disposition and retention schedules.
        3. the attachment an e-mail contains falls under records management, not the e-mail which transmits it unless the body of the email adds substantive information to the attachment.

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  • We have application copies made for the Search Committee.  Once completed, can these be destroyed by the department?  What about the copies sent by email?

The copies may be destroyed by the department.  Only the original needs to be maintained.  Those sent by email should be deleted from the email.

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  • Does Instant Messaging constitute a record?

If you are conducting business, it is considered a record.

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  • Are there rules for Instant Messaging?

The ePolicy Institute has a great resource entitled “Thirty-Two Instant Messaging Rules: Best Practices to Keep You in Business and out of Court“.  Also, please see our Guidelines for Use of Instant Messaging (IM) for additional information.

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