Data Disposition Guidelines for Employees Whose Status Changes

While employees accumulate lots of data during their employment at Cal Poly, they may not know how to dispose of the collected information appropriately.  Whether data resides in a filing cabinet, an email account, on a university or personal computer or mobile device, information considered to be an official university record must be handled in accordance with university policies, standards and practices.

These guidelines are intended to help set expectations for employees who are separating from the university, retiring, transitioning to emeritus status, or simply transferring between departments. It is the responsibility of the employee, working with their supervisor or department head, to ensure that official university records are passed on to the department for archival purposes.

How do I know if something is an official university record?

An official university record is defined as information in electronic or paper form that documents university business and is required to be retained based on established university record retention and disposition schedules, including but not limited to payroll, personnel, financial, medical, legal, facilities, alumni, academic, institutional and student records.

For email purposes, messages of lasting value should be preserved.  This includes messages that are critical to the continued operation of the university; required for legal purposes; required for financial reporting and audit purposes; of historical significance or value to the university.

While some employees, especially faculty and emeritus, may continue to interact with students and the university, retaining information beyond university retention periods may put employees at risk of being subject to a public record or other legal request in the future.   To that end, we encourage employees to retain only information necessary at a given time and to dispose of all files and messages when they are no longer needed.

Examples of faculty records that may need to be archived include curriculum and plan reviews, club advisor records, RPT files, recruitment files, course related materials, accreditation documents, meeting minutes, committee documents, advancement documents, grant related documents, etc.

What to do if you are separating from Cal Poly?

  1. Review your email accounts for messages with lasting value, i.e., that constitute an official university record and need to be retained. This includes any off-campus email accounts containing Cal Poly related emails. For more information, consult Cal Poly’s Email Retention Standard.
  2. Work with your technical support staff to archive applicable messages to a secure departmental file server or other location under the control of your supervisor or department head.
  3. Review electronic and paper files and identify content that may be subject to campus retention periods as described in Cal Poly’s Information Retention and Disposition Schedules  and transfer control of those files to your supervisor or department head.
  4. Properly dispose of any records NOT being retained by following applicable standards and practices.
  5. NOTE:  If you have been directed to retain emails or other files as part of a litigation hold, make sure those records are preserved and transferred to the department’s control.

What to do if you are transferring from one department to another?

  1. Prior to leaving your position, meet with your supervisor and/or department head to ensure that essential information is preserved and properly transferred to the department’s control before it is purged from your email account, workstation, file stores, file cabinets, etc.
  2. Follow the steps outlined under “What to do if you are separating from Cal Poly” to preserve or to properly dispose of any records and messages related to your previous position.
  3. Once the transfer is complete, purge the relevant emails and files from your account/stores.

What to do if you are awarded emeritus status?

  1. Prior to separating or retiring, meet with your supervisor and/or department head to ensure that any relevant information is preserved and properly transferred to the department’s control before it is purged from your email account, workstation, file stores, file cabinets, etc.
  2. Follow the steps outlined under “What to do if you are separating from Cal Poly” to preserve or to properly dispose of any records and messages related to your previous position(s) at Cal Poly.
  3. Once the transfer is complete, be sure and purge the archived messages and files from your email account, workstation, file stores, file cabinet, etc.  Keep only those messages and files that you may need to reference after you leave the university.

Supervisors/Department Heads

 Information Services can assist supervisors and department heads access central email and file stores of employees who are no longer on campus. All such requests require authorization from the appropriate campus official and should be directed to the Office of the CIO.

For more information

If you need help interpreting these guidelines or would like more information, please contact the Information Security Office for assistance.

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