Electronic Records

Electronic records are no longer the exception and are now prevalent throughout state agencies often with no paper counterpart. Automation has resulted in the use of many different types of software to support agency programs where records now reside including databases, word processing files, spreadsheets, geographic information systems (GIS), electronic document and content systems (EDMS/ECM) and electronic mail (e-mail).

As with paper records, electronic records need to be managed to control their creation, distribution, maintenance, use, and disposition. Electronic records, including e-mail messages and attachments meeting the definition of records, must be scheduled in accordance with Management Directive 210.5. In addition, there are Information Technology Bulletins relating to the management of electronic records throughout their life cycle, including policy for systems design, web records and EDMS (see Information Technology Bulletins (ITB) that begin with 'INFRM'; specifically INFRM001, 004, 005, 006)

Electronic records must be retained and disposed of in accordance with agency-specific and/or general retention and disposition schedules approved by the Executive Board. In order to keep electronic records accessible for the duration of the full retention period, agencies may need to migrate the data to upgraded software and/or hardware systems and/or different media. Electronic records reach their final disposition date when they have met established retention periods in the agency. They are then either destroyed by the agency or transferred to the State Archives as indicated in the records retention and disposition schedules.

Helpful Handouts for Email:

Email Guidelines (PDF, 36 KB)

Email Etiquette Guidelines  (PDF, 25 KB)

Transitory Guidelines (PDF, 80 KB)

RTK L E-mail Presentation (PDF, 2250 KB)

Summary of E-mail Management (PDF, 40 KB)

Helpful Handouts for E-records:

E-records Guidelines (PDF, 63 KB)

Redaction Guidelines (PDF, 70 KB)

The Value of Microfilm (PDF, 32 KB)

 North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources has created a short, easy-to-understand tutorial on file naming.  This is designed to help people take small and everyday steps to preserve their files.  A four-part tutorial, it describes why file naming is important, how to change a file name and the dos and don’ts of file naming.  In line with Pennsylvania’s policy, the tutorials may be viewed at: http://digitalpreservation.ncdcr.gov/tutorials.html.

Electronic Records-Frequently Asked Questions

1.) If our agency utilizes an optical image system, can I throw away the paper documents that were scanned and are stored on the system?

Records relating to any aspect of an optical imaging system may be disposed on only in accordance with approved retention and disposition schedules. All records relating to an imaging system, including input documents, additional paper or microfilm copies, and disk copies, must be scheduled in compliance with Management Directive 210.5: Records Management. The records requirement is a critical element in the planning of an optical imaging system. The length of the required retention period will determine the access, maintenance, and migration factors that must be considered while planning a system.  G007.001 Data source records

2.) Will the State Records Center store security copies of disks I create as back-ups to my electronic records as they have for microfilm of my records?

No, the State Records Center does not take Electronic Records. The Commonwealth has a contract for off-site storage of backed-up media. See Information Technology Bulletin (ITBs) put out by the Office of Information Technology for the latest standard.

3.) Has the Archives accessioned any Electronic Records and how are they made available to the public?

Yes but, at the present time, the Archives has no available Electronic data for public view.

 4.) How should electronic records of long-term value be cared for?

Presently, the best way to preserve electronic data is to store it in a human readable format, either paper or microfilm or both. Electronic records should be migrated as systems are up-dated. If retained on electronic medium, they should be copied every ten years.

5.) Are E-mail messages and attachments considered records?

Yes, if they meet the definition of a record: “Information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, that documents a transaction or activity of an agency and that is created, received or retained pursuant to law or in connection with a transaction, business or activity of the agency. The term includes a document, paper, letter, map,
book, tape, photograph, film or sound recording, information stored or maintained electronically, and a data-processed or image-processed ocument..”

 6.) How long should I retain E-mail messages meeting the definition of a record?

E-mail messages are not a single record series. Retention periods for E-mail messages will vary depending upon the function and content of the individual message. E-mail messages and attachment that met the definition of records must meet the retention requirements for the same type of record (record series) as listed on an approved agency-specific or general records schedule. For example, if the E-mail message constitutes correspondence relating to a specific program activity, it would be retained for the same length of time as other records in that series.

 7.) How should I retain E-mail for the full retention period?

E-mail messages and attachments that meet the definition of records may be maintained in an electronic or manual record-keeping system.  

8.) Do you have suggestions concerning long-term or permanent preservation of E-mail?

If the records are of sufficient vital importance or have long-term (ten years or longer) or permanent value according to the retention schedule, it is highly recommended they be stored to a human-readable format (paper or microfilm). Otherwise, e-mail must be migrated as with other type of electronic record.


If you need further assistance, please contact us at Ra-staterecordsmgmt@pa.gov.

Forms and Directives  
PDF Documents Authorized Personnel Form
Document Title: Authorized Personnel Form
PDF Documents Authorized Personnel Form Instructions
Document Title:  
MS Excel Documents File Plan Template
Document Title:  
PDF Documents M210.1
Document Title: Commonwealth of PA Employee Records Management Manual
PDF Documents M210.7
Document Title: Manual on the Commonwealth Records Management program
PDF Documents MD210.5
Document Title: Commonwealth of PA State Records Management Program
MS Word Documents STD-56
Document Title: Records Action Requests Summary and Deletion
Documents in the Directory STD-59
Document Title: Records Transfer List
Documents in the Directory STD-59-GS
Document Title:  
MS Excel Documents STD-59-P79
Document Title: Personnel Records Transfer Lists
MS Excel Documents STD-61
Document Title: Reference Request
MS Excel Documents STD-62
Document Title: Records Disposal Report
MS Word Documents STD-64
Document Title: Records Action Request:Addition or Amendment to Records Retention and Disposition Schedules
PDF Documents STD-64 Instructions
Document Title: Records Action Request: Addition or Amendment to Records Instructions
Documents in the Directory STD-65
Document Title: Microfilm Requirement Analysis
MS Excel Documents STD-66
Document Title: Request to Acquire Microfilm Equipment