The Statues of the State of Wisconsin (16.61) define public records as : "... all books, papers, maps, photographs, films, recordings, optical disks, electronically formatted documents or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made, or received by any state agency or its officers or employees in connection with the transaction of public business….”
While electronic records are specifically mentioned, the key phrase is "regardless of physical form or characteristics."
Retaining electronic records
This means that electronic records (or those hewn in stone) are as valid as paper and must be retained and destroyed, preserved and secured according to the same schedule as paper records.
So, for example, electronic correspondence of a state employee—e.g. our Diversity Program Manager—will be preserved and, unless restricted due to other governing statues, subject to the open records law. Her email will be publicly viewable, if requested.
Keep them electronic!
Do not print them out for safekeeping. The university will store needed electronic records and back-up the storage to a level that is considered safe.
Also, electronic records maintain their functionality—such as links, accounting functions, statistic-keeping functions, etc. By printing them, you are only taking a photo of the document in one state—not preserving it in its totality. Useful and necessary metadata, such as the time and date an email is sent, the sender and all recipients, and attachments may be lost if not deliberately preserved.
The records manager in conjunction with the CIO and others will determine policy for electronic records formatting as we move forward.
Transferring electronic records to the Archive
A SharePoint site was created, to which you can send records born on your computer--meeting minutes, reports, departmental projects--for archival preservation and permanent access. Please contact the Records Manager with questions.