SECTION INDEX:    Records Management

1    Purpose

2    Reference

3    Application

4    Guidance

4.1    Responsibility / Authority

4.2    Definitions

4.3    Retention, Disposition, and Destruction

4.4    Texting and Instant Messaging

4.5    Sending and Receiving Emails on Employee-owned Devices

4.6    Personal Email Accounts

4.7    Location of Records

4.8    Legal Holds

4.9    Public Records Requests


This Policy provides requirements for the creation, maintenance, use, and disposition of City of Olympia records so that City information assets are:

•    Current, accurate and easy to use

•    Managed to support City processes and objectives

•    Open and accessible to City Staff and the public

•    Demonstrate and document compliance with laws, regulations, and standards

•    A record of the City’s past is preserved


•    RCW 40.14, Preservation and Destruction of Public Records

•    WAC 434-662, Preservation of Electronic Public Records

•    WA Secretary of State - Managing City Records

•    Policy 26, Technology Policy

•    Policy 27, Public Disclosure Policy


This Policy applies to all City of Olympia employees and volunteers and all City of Olympia records, regardless of format.

Failure to comply with this Policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination from City service.



a.    Public Records Officer: The City Clerk is the designated public records officer. The Public Records Officer is responsible for the City’s Records Management program; providing advice, support and direction to Record Coordinators and City Staff in managing City records; overseeing the off-site storage of paper records and the transfer of archival records to the State Archives.

b.    Records Coordinators: Department Directors designate Records Coordinators to assist and comply with the Public Records Officer’s directions and manage department records. Individual departments are responsible for securely maintaining records for the retention period indicated on the retention schedule. Department responsibilities include ensuring the physical safety of records, and ensuring that confidential records are protected from inappropriate release and the day to day management of records, both paper and electronic.

c.    City Staff and Volunteers: All employees and volunteers who create and use public records are responsible for proper retention of their physical and electronic records.


a.    Archival Record: Public records which may possess enduring legal and/or historic value and must be transferred to Washington State Archives when no longer needed for City business and legal requirements.

b.    Disposition: The actions taken when records are no longer needed for City business and legal requirements. Possible disposition actions include transfer to the Washington State archives and destruction.

c.    Public Record: Any document or recorded information regardless of physical form or characteristics that has been prepared, owned, used, or retained by the City including, but not limited to:

▪    Physical records

•    Paper records (handwritten or typed)

•    Printed versions of electronic records

•    Maps

•    Photographs

•    Microfilm

▪    Electronic records

•    Any computer software generated records (example – any file that was created using a Microsoft software product)

•    Email

•    Databases

•    Digital Sound or Video recordings

•    Voicemail

•    Texts and Instant Messages

•    Webpages and Social Media

d.    Retention Schedule: Requirements adopted by the Washington State Local Records Committee that:

•    Specify the length of time each type of record should be retained by the City, and;

•    If it should be disposed of or transferred to the State Archives at the end of the time specified.

e.    Washington State Archives: The State Archives provides centralized records management services to state and local governments. It is responsible for assisting government agencies to comply with Washington State's laws pertaining to the creation, maintenance and disposition of public records.

The State Archives is also a facility for the permanent preservation of City records of historic value that are no longer needed for City business.

f.    Washington State Digital Archives: The State Digital Archives permanently preserves local government electronic records of historic value that are no longer needed for City business.

g.    Transitory Records: Transitory records only document information of temporary, short-term value, provided that the records are not needed as evidence of a business transaction.

4.3. Retention, Disposition, and Destruction

a.    City records should be retained for the minimum required retention as specified in the Retention Schedule and then promptly dispositioned, unless they are still needed for City business, ongoing litigation or outstanding public disclosure requests. Departments should annually inventory their records for any that have met their minimum retention

b.    Infrequently accessed paper records that have not reached the end of their retention period should be stored off-site at the City’s records storage facility to save space and reduce cost.

b.    Departments should contact Information Management staff for guidance on disposition of records with archival value (paper or electronic), as noted on the retention schedules.

d.    Records essential to the continuity of City services and/or are necessary to protect the assets, obligations, and resources of the City require extra care. These records should be adequately backed up and recoverable in the event of a disaster.

e.    Secondary copies are generally kept for administrative use and can be discarded when that purpose has been fulfilled.

f.    Transitory records can be discarded when their purpose has been fulfilled.

g.    Confidential or sensitive records, including non-paper media, must be reduced to an illegible or unrecoverable condition when destroyed.

h.    Electronic records must be retained in electronic format and remain usable, searchable, retrievable, and authentic for the applicable retention period. Printing and retaining a hard copy is not a substitute for the electronic version.

4.4. Texting and Instant Messaging

All texts and instant messages related to City business are public records. This includes all texts and instant messages sent and received on City devices and any City business texts and instant messages stored on personal devices. These records should be managed according to the applicable retention schedule, and may be subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act.

All employees have records management responsibilities for business-related texts and instant messages they send and receive and may be asked to identify records responsive to public disclosure or discovery requests.

The following is intended to help manage the business-related messages sent or received on City and personal devices, including but not limited to phones, tablets and laptops.

a.    Employees may use texting/instant messaging for transitory messages only. Examples include informal notices of meetings, directions, scheduling information, and other routine messages that would not be kept in a file if it were a paper communication.

b.    Text messages may not be used to send policy, contract, formal correspondence, or personnel related data. Sensitive information should not be sent by text message, (e.g. social security numbers, credit card numbers, passwords, etc.).

c.    Transitory messages should be deleted as soon as possible.

d.    If a text message needs to be retained pursuant to a retention schedule, employees must transfer the messages to the City’s network and/or devices.

4.5. Sending and Receiving Emails on Employee-owned Devices

Employee-owned devices (PCs, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc.) may be used to send and receive work email so long as the messages are sent through the City’s email system. See the Technology Use Policy for more information regarding the use of Employee-owned Mobile Devices.

4.6. Personal Email Accounts

Use of personal email accounts for conducting City business is prohibited, except in special circumstances in which an employee or volunteer has no reasonable alternative, or has specific permission from their supervisor and/or volunteer liaison to use personal email. In the event email related to the conduct of City business is sent from or received at a personal email address, it should be immediately copied and/or forwarded to the City email system so that the communication is searchable by records staff and retained pursuant to records retention schedules.

4.7. Location of Records

City of Olympia records are those that are made or received by the City in connection with the transaction of public business. For this reason, City records are required to be saved and retained in City files or on City-owned devices or systems, including hosted solutions.

4.8. Legal Holds

Records involved in litigation or reasonably anticipated or foreseeable litigation will be placed on legal hold and must be preserved until the legal hold is released by the City Attorney’s Office.

4.9. Public Records Requests

If records requested by a member of the public are scheduled for destruction, the records must be retained until the request is fulfilled.

Revision history: September 2019; February 2017; January 2015; October 2013; September 2011; July 2010. Superseded: Administrative Guideline Records Management Policy”.