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University of Connecticut University Libraries Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Strategic Plan for Electronic Records (2000)

Keeping the Whole Record:

A Strategic Plan for Managing and Preserving

The University of Connecticut's

Knowledge Assets in the Digital Century

Executive Summary

Statement of the Problem

The University of Connecticut (UConn) is facing significant changes in the way it conducts and documents business.   UConn is moving rapidly toward relying on information that exists solely in electronic form to support the University's core business activities.   Examples include:

  • the introduction of the integrated Student Records system,
  • the ubiquitous nature and growing importance of electronic mail messages,
  • the expansion of the role of web resources, and
  • the implementation of the fiscal data warehouse.

At this point, however, UConn cannot ensure that its information resources will be available for a longer period of time than the short active life span of information in a systems environment.   Thus, at some future point, UConn may not be able to locate, let alone use necessary “accurate, reliable and authentic information” regarding actions, decisions and business transactions.

This “accurate, reliable and authentic information” is characterized as a KNOWLEDGE ASSET.  It is used to communicate valuable information externally and internally.  The value of this information is derived by assessing the cost of replicating or reacquiring the information, the cost of conducting business without this knowledge, and lost opportunities because of the inability to access this information quickly, or at all. Knowledge assets, as applied in this report, refer to administrative resources, and do not include academic research materials or other information resources created through the fulfillment of the University's academic functions.

The emerging digital environment is supplanting a paper-based environment in which critical information was maintained exclusively on paper and information of long-term value was transferred to the University Archives where it was preserved and available for use.   Thus, the University now faces the choice between maintaining a partial or a complete documentary record as it moves into the highly digital milieu.

Proposed Solutions

The plan focuses on a single strategic goal: The University of Connecticut will be capable of producing, maintaining and retrieving the body of knowledge that originates and is maintained in digital form, both now and into the future.  To achieve this goal the plan presents three objectives that focus on providing service and support, developing policies and practices, and identifying roles in the emerging digital infrastructure.  Each goal contains several action items.  The plan also presents an outline for the first year of activities of the proposed program.

Objective 1 : Provide service and support for the University's administrative business units to enable them to better identify the University's core information assets and to assist them in their capacity  as stewards of those assets.

Action 1.1 : Conduct a core Knowledge Asset Inventory (KAI) to identify UConn's critical information assets.

UConn's major programs obviously are dependent on reliable, accessible information to accomplish their business.  In most program areas, staff have developed approaches to managing information resources under their control that ensures the University's day-to-day operational needs are met.   However, the University is unable to identify the "official" source of complete, accurate and authentic documentation for many of its business activities.  An inventory of "knowledge assets" would enable UConn to locate its critical information resources, identify existing "best practices" in program areas and develop a program to ensure that all of UConn's knowledge resources are effectively managed and appropriately used throughout the University.

Action 1.2 : Develop a training, education and assistance program on information management.

Line staff would benefit from training and education workshops that enables them to understand both the value of their information assets and methods for managing those assets.  The University Archives, in partnership with other business units, should provide this training.

Action 1.3 : Use the current implementation of the new Student Records System to ensure that the knowledge assets it creates are identified and appropriately managed.

The new PeopleSoft Student Records System is an important step in the evolution of UConn's information environment.   The University relies heavily on the information that this system will capture and maintain to support day-to-day operations, external reporting and long-term business and strategic planning.  A rigorous analysis of this information management system will help to solidify and ensure the value of the system in meeting UConn's information and knowledge needs.

Objective 2 : Create a policy and practice environment that recognizes the decentralized nature of information creation and use on campus, but encourages sound stewardship of UConn's information resources.

Action 2.1 : Promulgate policies for the management of information and knowledge assets.

UConn lacks  comprehensive policies and procedures for the effective management of its information.  Most information management practices rely on State and Federal guidelines that do not adequately address the day-to-day needs of business units.   UConn should take the lead in creating a new policy and documentation to meet these needs.

Action 2.2 : Provide resources and guidance for staff developing electronic information systems within lines of business.

Computing at UConn is highly decentralized.  Most business units have developed local electronic information systems to meet their specific needs.  These systems are often seen as the authoritative information resource for that particular line of business.  Yet most of these systems were developed without utilizing established and standard system development practices.   As a result,  the information within these systems is not regularly managed in a way that ensures its integrity, reliability or authority.  The Archives and Records Management Program, Office of Internal Audit and University Information Technology Services (UITS) should develop resources to guide and support the development of decentralized electronic information management applications.

Action 2.3 : Develop policies and practices that guide the management of information communicated via electronic mail.

Policy and procedure guidelines will enable staff to identify information and knowledge assets transmitted through electronic mail systems.  These policies and procedures also will provide staff with the tools needed to appropriately manage these assets and ensure that vital documentation is maintained and available.

Action 2.4 : Articulate a strategy and policy  for the Internet and the World Wide Web that ensures long-term preservation and access to deliver information and resources transmitted via the web.

UConn should adopt web management policies and practices that provide guidance to program and technical staff for preservation of and long term access to information delivered solely  through the Internet.

Objective 3 : Enhance the role and visibility of the University Archives and Records Management program.

Action 3.1 : Establish the position of a "Knowledge Asset Manager" (KAM) within the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Information Services.

The appointment of a dedicated professional with responsibility for providing service and support to administrative business units will enable UConn to ensure that it can fully utilize electronic information systems to capture and store its information assets.

Action 3.2 : Improve the ability of the University Archives to preserve and make available materials in digital form.

The University Archives should expand its existing partnership with the University Information Technology Services (University ITS) [formerly University Computer Center (UCC)] to provide preservation and reference services for digital materials of long-term value.    The University ITS has the technological infrastructure and staff expertise to support the preservation of digital materials.  The University Archives - through the Knowledge Asset Manager - can provide an understanding of information policy, university  procedures and business mandates to enable the University ITS to carry out this function.

Action 3.3 : The Archives and Records Management Program should develop guidance for implementing records disposition guidelines in a systems environment.

UConn's information assets by law are also public assets, which places a responsibility on the University to ensure that it maintains and protects  this information to ensure public accountability.  The Archives and Records Management program administers the State's disposition guidelines for the University and recommends the destruction of non-permanent records with the approval of the State Library.  The Archives and Records Management program, in partnership with the Office of Internal Audit, should develop methods and approaches to apply the state retention requirements to information that exists in complex digital information systems.

Action Plan - Year One

In its first year, the program must demonstrate the value of a knowledge management program to the University.  It will be especially important to provide line staff with practical tools and resources that they can integrate immediately and easily into their day-to-day work.   The following are activities for the first year of the program and are based on the appointment of a full-time Knowledge Asset Manager (KAM).

1. Initiate the knowledge asset inventory.

Implementing the knowledge asset inventory should include: i. Developing the data collection process - preferably using the UConn intranet as the collection and retrieval environment.

ii. Providing  staff and management with training, support and awareness of the purpose and use of inventory information.

iii. Preparing  a plan to update, maintain and use the inventory information.

iv. Working with program staff to identify and complete the inventory information for one major pilot functional area of the University.

2. Provide assistance and support to the Student Records System implementation and support subsequent ERP system initiatives.

The program should contribute resources to the new student records system to assist the project team in ensuring that recordkeeping and knowledge management needs of program staff are addressed in the implementation phase, when possible.  The KAM would assist the project team to develop approaches to meet unaddressed needs subsequent to the systems implementation.   All future ERP system initiatives should include a recordkeeping and knowledge asset review and analysis as an integral step in implementation.

3. Finalize the draft policy on electronic mail and provide a case-book of best practices to program areas.

An important first-year initiative will be practical guidance to staff and business units for managing electronic mail.  The guidance will come in the form of a policy brief for management and a series of workshops and training for line staff to familiarize them with the policy and assist in its implementation.

4. Develop and deliver a series of workshops on issues and approaches for managing records in electronic form.

These workshops should be made available to small groups in individual business units.     Four specific workshop topics should be developed and delivered during the first year:

a. Managing the files on your PC – support for staff who use desktop computers.

b. Issues in managing electronic records – support for  supervisory and management staff to enable them to understand the impact of digital technology on their information resources.

c. Implications for delivering information via the Internet – support for business unit managers who are turning to the Internet and the World Wide Web as a tool for capturing and delivering information and services.

d. Using digital imaging to capture, store and retrieve business documents – support for  mid-level managers.  This workshop would be a practical guide for conducting a cost/benefit analysis for digital imaging projects and for understanding digital imaging technology options and their implications.

Introduction and Overview of the Project Process

UConn received funding in 2000 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to develop a strategic plan for managing and preserving the University's administrative records created and maintained in electronic form.  The project was a joint effort of the University Archives and Records Management Program at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and the University Information Technology Services (UITS, formerly UCC).

An internal team including Betsy Pittman, University Archivist; Elaine David, University Information Technology Services; Tom Wilsted, Director of the Dodd Center and Tom Ruller, Project Consultant, interviewed key staff throughout the University to identify the critical electronic records issues.   In addition, an advisory board of management-level representatives from across the University provided the project staff with valuable guidance and offered access to critical business units.  Appendix A contains a list of the Advisory Board Members.

Through the interviews and background research done for this project, it became clear that to focus the project solely on the "records" of the University would limit the perceived applicability of the recommendations.  Therefore, this project and the strategic plan that is proposed here, focus on UConn's "knowledge assets."

In the context of this plan, knowledge is the acquired or recorded information of the University, gathered or created as it conducts its business activities.  This plan does not encompass information and knowledge assets created or collected through academic research or through the development of research collections.   Instead, this plan focuses exclusively on the resources created or collected by UConn's administrative programs.

Just as individuals rely on knowledge to enable them to make day-to-day judgements, the University relies on its collected knowledge to perform its daily functions. Business units must possess or have access to reliable, authentic and complete information in order to function effectively.

UConn's knowledge assets form this body of information.  This knowledge is measurable and has a value that is derived from the cost to recreate or recapture it or the cost of operating without it.

The University Archives plays a key role in managing, preserving and providing continued access to core elements of UConn's knowledge assets.  The custodial program of the archives collects and preserves vital information of long-term value.  It maintains the "corporate memory" of the University.  Through the records management program, the University Archives facilitates the legal destruction of outdated, non-permanent information.

As the primary sponsor of this project, the University Archives is seeking to enable UConn to continue to maintain its corporate memory, to protect its "knowledge assets" and ensure that it can function effectively in the emerging digital environment.

UConn's Current Electronic Information Environment and Key Trends:

UConn is emerging as a highly digital business environment.  Examples below illustrate how the University is creating and using digital information to conduct its core businesses:

  • As part of the Year 2000 remediation process, UConn Y2K staff identified over 40,000 individual FOCUS report program files across the University. These programs represented everything from mission critical data that supports day-to-day decision-making to one-time requests for individual analyses.
  • The University Registrar maintains 350,000 student information cards that are used as the primary access point for non-current student data. These cards will soon be converted to digital format to enable on-line access to non-current student data.
  • The University uses the Budget-L listserv to distribute via electronic mail BRIO-related and other information relevant to the use of the budget and fiscal data in the fiscal data mart.
  • All Student records will soon be migrated to the new student records system developed by PeopleSoft and implemented by UConn.

These electronic technology applications greatly enhance UConn's ability to share information, reduce redundancy, shorten transaction time and improve the quality and accuracy of reporting and decision making.

At the same time, the University is replacing its existing recordkeeping systems, which rely on paper and other human-readable media, with digital information sources.  These digital materials are intended to serve as the final, complete and current record of various business and academic transactions.

In addition to the need for accurate, complete and authentic information, UConn, as a public institution, must meet standards of public accountability.  The mandates of Federal and state government require that certain information must be maintained to meet reporting and audit requirements or legal accountability standards, for example.  These items are identified as the official public records of the University.

Currently, many of UConn's most important information assets are transferred to the legal and physical custody of the University Archives.  The Archives' records management program works with line staff to ensure materials that no longer have legal, administrative, fiscal or research value are destroyed on a timely and regular basis.  The Archives administers retention and disposition regulations promulgated by the State Library as a mechanism to enable legal destruction of information.

However, the University Archives and Records Program has not been involved in the preservation of any materials in digital form nor has the Archives' advice been solicited  for the disposition of information from operational electronic information systems.  This has not represented a problem in the past, since the official information is typically maintained in paper form.  However, as programs cease to maintain core information in paper form, there is a need to address records management and archiving needs.

Unfortunately, departmental staff often do not rely on the core, official University information systems as the final "record" copy of certain business data.   In addition, there is no University-wide approach to ensure the long-term availability and usability of information in these systems.

The University's program of information and records management has not kept pace with implementation of automated systems, nor has there been consistent practice of reviewing the recordkeeping requirements for the information maintained by an automated system during its implementation.  UConn has no formal policy, practice or operational capability for ensuring the completeness, reliability and authenticity of records created and maintained in electronic formats.

Staff throughout the University maintain their own “shadow systems” in the form of duplicate versions of existing information systems, or more often, paper documents that are printed from systems.  These “shadow systems” compete with the core, official electronic information systems by maintaining the same data, but with differing or incomplete values. The result is often inaccurate or incomplete documentation of specific business activities.

Moreover, the shadow systems slow the pace of process improvement and increase transaction time because of the time and effort required to determine if the information is accurate or complete or to reconcile several different systems to one another in order to determine a final or accurate answer.  Existing records management practices, which focus largely on the disposal or transfer to archival storage of inactive paper documents are not adequate to meet the needs of business staff for trustworthy official records maintained in electronic information systems.

Some examples of the lack of trusted information systems include:

  • Three different sources for Student records: paper, electronic and microform.
  • Inaccurate, conflicting or incomplete institutional data reported by the Office of Institutional Research .
  • Lengthy processing times for certain human resource and financial transactions.
  • Inability to archive or purge data from systems in accordance with state or federal regulation or recordkeeping guidelines.
  • Loss of historical data used for institutional reporting and analysis due to the lack of a formal and widely known data migration and media maintenance program for records and information with long-term value.

Key Trends

1. The University is replacing paper records with digital information that will serve as the official-record copy.  A good example is the implementation of the PeopleSoft student records system.

2. More and more official communication is  carried out via electronic mail and web pages.  Most University offices rely on electronic mail and documents attached to electronic mail messages to conduct official business.  Most meetings are now scheduled via electronic mail.

3. As stated earlier, many units do not rely on or trust “official” electronic information systems, resulting in many “shadow” information systems.  For example, there are several thousand Focus programs used across the University mining different sets of University data, often with the same purpose, but with different answers.  There are also many shadow systems that consist of paper printouts from electronic information systems.  For many program areas, these paper files constitute the only “true record.”

4. New technology is being continually introduced.  The Internet is quickly becoming a key vehicle for conducting business.  Changes in technology are driving the need for reliable digital records and recordkeeping practices.

5. UConn is undergoing tremendous organizational change.  The past decade has seen many significant changes in the administrative processes of the university, with more changes to come.   Units are reengineering business processes to streamline, improve and leverage investments in technology.  The expansion of decentralized information systems exacerbates the problems of organizational change.  There is no common definition of core data structures.  In addition, with the decentralization of e data administration within the University,  there is no central authority to ensure common and interchangeable data across systems.

Taken as a whole, these themes portray an organization that is in the midst of a rapid shift to digital technologies as the source for vital business and historical information.  Staff in program areas recognize the implications of this shift and are concerned about how to incorporate necessary tools into these systems to ensure business and public accountability needs are met with information that is solely in digital form.

Strategies and a Plan of Action – A More Detailed Summary

The objectives proposed at the beginning of this document form an integrated proposal.  Commitment to, and understanding of all of the elements involved, are necessary for the plan to be a success.   A holistic approach is necessary because of the interrelationship of business with information and the interrelationships among the business units involved in managing and preserving UConn's knowledge resources.  Finally, this plan proposes additional investments by the University,  investments that can ultimately realize financial and operational benefits.

Objective 1:  Provide service and support for UConn's administrative business units to enable them to better identify the University's core information assets and to assist them in their capacity  as stewards of those assets.

Line staff are often disconnected from information resources that are beyond their physical or organizational control.  In a decentralized and digital information environment, few organizational units have responsibility or authority for all of the information they use and fewer have physical control or custody.  If staff in the business units understand what information UConn owns, how that information is used throughout the University and how that information is managed throughout its life-cycle, they will be better prepared to function as stewards of information rather than owners.  Staff need assistance and guidance to enable them to be better information stewards in UConn's digital milieu.  UConn should develop a resource of support, service and guidance where line staff and managers can seek assistance to manage the complex problems posed by information in digital form.

Action 1.1: Conduct a core Knowledge Asset Inventory (KAI) to identify UConn's critical information assets.

Throughout the course of this project, staff from program areas were encouraged and sometimes surprised to learn about information assets in other areas of the University.   In addition, some staff were aware of knowledge assets, but were not confident about the authenticity, accuracy or completeness of those resources.  This lack of confidence typically led staff to develop "shadow" information resources that compete with "official" information.  UConn should undertake an inventory of its core knowledge resources to enable it to identify the authoritative  source(s) of basic information in the areas of:

  • Student population and registration
  • Student aid
  • Administrative financial transactions
  • Policies and procedures

The inventory would identify the forms, formats, stewards (owners), legal requirements, business function(s) and original source of these knowledge assets.   This information would enable UConn to develop specific plans for the management of these assets.   This task should be appropriately assigned to the Knowledge Asset Manager (KAM) (see Action 3.1 below) as the first order of business in addressing the University's needs.

Once this is developed, the "knowledge inventory" should be operated and maintained as an up-to-date inventory by the University Archives and Records Management program in partnership with the University ITS and the Office of Institutional Research .   The inventory can serve as a repository to enable UConn to ensure that its core information resources are receiving appropriate stewardship and protection as well as a resource to identify the most appropriate source of information for reporting and analysis.   Many of the most valuable information resources of the University will never be deposited in the University Archives.  However, the Archives should be given responsibility and authority for ensuring that the stewards of those assets protect, preserve and provide access to corporate resources under their care.

The inventory described above should be applied only to administrative information resources of UConn and should not include academic resources.

Action 1.2: Develop a training and education program on information management.

The University Archives has conducted training programs for staff in the University for applying the State Library's records management guidelines.  The Archives should expand this training and education function to provide additional workshops and seminars on effective information management.  This program should be conducted in partnership with other business units in the University including the Office of Internal Audit and the University ITS.  This training should be targeted at mid-level managers in lines of business as half-day sessions and should focus on such topics as:

  • Managing information on desktop computer environments
  • Locating and accessing UConn's "official" information  sources
  • Preparing for an audit by ensuring that your information resources are in order

In addition to providing valuable information to program staff, this training program will increase the visibility of University Archives and enable staff to understand the role and relationship of Archives to day-to-day management of program information.

Action 1.3: Use the current implementation of the new student records system to ensure that the knowledge assets it creates are identified and managed appropriately.

The new Student Records System represents both a significant investment and risk for the University.  The investment is obvious, measured in personnel hours and funds spent on the new PeopleSoft software and services.  The risks are less tangible, but are centered around the ability of the University to gain adequate value from the investment.

One risky area is the ability of the University to capture, maintain and produce adequate documentation of business transactions and of legally mandated records from the system.    Once the new PeopleSoft system moves into its initial production phases, the University Archives and Records Management Program, along with other appropriate units including the Office of Internal Audit, should be charged with analyzing the new system to ensure it meets UConn's documentation and recordkeeping needs.  This analysis can be used by staff to develop appropriate business and information handling processes to ensure that the vital knowledge assets maintained in the new system are appropriately and effectively managed.

Objective 2: Create a policy and practice environment that recognizes the decentralized nature of information creation and use, but encourages sound stewardship of UConn's information resources.

Action 2.1: Promulgate Policies for the management of information and knowledge assets.

Once completed, the inventory of information and knowledge assets will  provide senior management at UConn with the source of the University's core information.  Moreover, it will enable management to communicate to staff how to manage and use these resources.  A policy environment that supports the creation and use of reliable, authentic and useful information and knowledge would cover such areas as:

  • "Official Sources" of commonly used data
  • Definition of "University information" and "University knowledge"
  • Role and relationship of the data warehouse
  • Roles and responsibilities in developing new information systems
  • Roles and responsibilities for developing information systems that are not centrally maintained or managed
  • Relationship of the Archives and Records Management program to information management within lines of business

Action 2.2: Develop resources and guidance for staff who develop electronic information systems within lines of business.

The power of personal computers, the Internet and easy-to-use software tools has empowered staff throughout UConn to develop computer applications that store and manage critical information.  Often these systems, which start off as tools for convenience, grow to become core resources for campus-wide information upon which UConn depends.   The University ITS, the Office of Internal Audit and the University Archives and Records Management should collaborate to provide a "tool-kit" for designing, developing and operating information systems that contain corporate information.

These guidelines would cover such topics as:

  • Setting information requirements
  • Identifying and implementing data purge and retention requirements
  • Basic system management practices (backup, documentation, etc.)
  • Migrating information from one environment to another
  • Long-term maintenance of data
  • Ensuring the authenticity and reliability of information
  • Applying the records retention and disposition schedules developed by the State Library to information managed by these systems.

Action 2.3: Develop policy and practice guidance for managing information communicated via electronic mail.

Electronic mail and messaging systems are widely used at UConn to communicate and store official information.   Staff, students and instructors rely on electronic mail messages to document actions, communicate decisions and conduct business.  Staff needs guidance to enable them to:

  • Determine appropriate business uses for electronic mail messages
  • Segregate official communications from non-official materials
  • Store and dispose of official information delivered via electronic mail

Senior management of the University should reinforce existing policy guidance from the State Library (General Letter 98-1), which identifies the responsibilities for managing official information communicated via electronic mail.  Some work has already been done in this area (UITS policies).   The University Archives and University ITS should continue current efforts to develop practical guidance for staff and business unit managers for managing records communicated via electronic mail.

Action 2.4: Articulate a policy environment and set of best practices for the use of the Internet and the World Wide Web for delivering information and resources to students and faculty.

UConn is in the early stages of using the Internet and the World Wide Web as a primary business tool.  Web pages are generally analogues of paper documents, with the paper materials serving as the official or final version of the information.  However, this is rapidly changing.  On-line versions of the course catalog, use of courseware for instructional support and testing, and the communication of official information solely through the Web are planned or in development in many areas of the University.   UConn should consider developing guidance similar to that developed by the State University of New York at Albany for New York State government: Developing & Delivering Government Services on the World Wide Web: Recommended Practices for New York State.    Guidelines such as those exemplified by the New York State publication provide line staff with a framework for developing information resources delivered and maintained through the Internet and the Web.

Objective 3: Enhance the role and visibility of the University Archives and Records Management program as a resource for managing and preserving UConn's digital information assets.

The University Archives is staffed by information professionals who are skilled at managing and protecting information.  The Archives staff are the most effective stewards of UConn's knowledge assets, largely because that is the primary function of the archives program.  The Archives has begun to develop staff expertise and programmatic capacity to address the preservation, access and management needs of materials in electronic form.   UConn should capitalize on this investment to enable units to create and maintain reliable, authentic and authoritative information resources in electronic form.

Action 3.1: Establish the position of a "Knowledge Asset Manager" within the office of the Vice-Chancellor for Information Services.

Systems throughout the University are built and operated through partnerships between units, University ITS, and increasingly, outside contractors.  However, none of those partners has responsibility for ensuring the management and preservation of the University's critical knowledge assets captured and maintained by a system.

UConn, like many other organizations, has not distinguished between systems management and information management.  Effective information processing systems are assumed to have capacity to be effective information management systems.

A staff person who is dedicated to focusing on information and, specifically the information considered to be "University knowledge", would be a great asset to both systems staff and administrative personnel.  One approach to providing the kind of knowledge, skill and organizational integration is to appoint a staff person to function as UConn's  Knowledge Asset Manager.  The position  could  administratively be located in University Information Technology Services but assigned to the University Archives and Records Management Program, to underscore the cooperative and integrated nature of the functions of this position.

The Knowledge Asset Manager (KAM) would provide UConn with the expertise, staff resources and leadership responsibility for managing UConn's critical information.  The individual hired to fulfill this position should have strong records and information management skills, but be knowledgeable about information technology and information systems design.  By placing the position within University ITS, the staff member would have a relationship and connection to existing electronic information systems management.   The assignment to the University Archives and Records Management program would ensure continuity between the management of knowledge assets in paper form and those in electronic form.

Appendix B contains several sample scenarios that exemplify the role and function of the KAM as well as a position description.

Action 3.2: Improve the ability of the University Archives to preserve and make available materials of continuing value that are in digital form.

University Archives does not have the capability to preserve and make available materials in digital form.  However, many of UConn's critical information resources - which have been preserved in the archives in paper form in the past are now created and maintained exclusively in digital formats.   UConn risks losing the continuity of its University memory if it cannot establish a program of preservation and access for records of long-term value that exist in digital form.   The Archives should develop a working relationship with UITS that will enable the UITS to perform preservation services for digital materials of long-term value.  Specific activities that should be performed by this partnership include:

  • Media management: developing a program of care and maintenance of media that stores digital materials of long-term value.
  • Documentation standards: ensuring that all information of long-term value is adequately documented to support migration, preservation and use as system environments change.
  • Data migration practices: moving data to more current and accessible data structures and recording formats as system environments change.
  • Recording and storage practices: ensuring that system backup formats are not used as the vehicle for retaining inactive or archived information.

Most of UConn's information assets of long-term value will likely remain in the custody of the creating office, but under the care and management of UITS.    Therefore, Archives should work directly with line staff and UITS to enable line staff to articulate their digital information management needs to UITS.

Action 3.3: The Archives and Records Management Program should develop guidance for implementing records disposition guidelines in a systems environment.

UConn's knowledge assets are public records, necessary to meet public accountability requirements.  Therefore, these assets must be maintained at least until the University has the legal authority to destroy them.

Many units have administrative needs for records that exceed the minimum retention periods for records, increasing the need to develop effective approaches for ensuring the availability of records in digital form.

The legal authority to destroy public records rests with the State Library, which oversees the management of all public records in Connecticut.  The guidance from the State Library is not easily applied to information in digital formats, especially when the formats are maintained in a complex systems environment.

Other universities, such as Indiana University, have sought to use a series of "functional requirements" for information systems that support the identification of information in a system that satisfies the requirement to keep certain documentation for public and internal accountability.  These requirements also enable the application of disposition procedures.

The University Archives and Records Management Program and the Office of Internal Audit, through the Knowledge Asset Manager, should develop guidance that enables line staff to identify what information supports specific functions and then apply the disposition requirement to the information within functions.   Given the current status of the student records system implementation and the work that has been done at Indiana University, a pilot test with that new system environment would be an appropriate starting point.

Benefits and Costs of Implementation

It is clear that The University of Connecticut is becoming a digital organization. It is also evident that throughout the University, staff and business unit managers are developing local approaches to meeting their knowledge needs.

Unfortunately, the University cannot represent itself authoritatively or adequately through its digital information resources.  There are currently no resources in place to address this issue.

While UConn has not fully migrated its information and knowledge assets to digital form, this is an accelerating trend and is rapidly becoming a business requirement to be fully operational as a major academic institution.  UConn has an important opportunity to avoid future risks by implementing an effective program at the early stages of its migration to a digital knowledge asset environment.

This plan proposes a series of actions and investments that will build upon and augment existing good work, focus on service and support, and keep pace with an accelerating change in the University's information landscape.

Implementing this plan enables UConn to avoid a number of serious risks:

  • ERP systems, such as the Student Records System will not keep complete, accurate and reliable records over-time and the University will again find itself relying on a patchwork of “shadow systems” to meet its core information needs.
  • Staff who rely on digital information, such as electronic documents, electronic mail and other unstructured business communications will not be able to distinguish official from unofficial materials and will not have tools available  for them to file, store and retrieve those materials as long as they are needed.
  • Programs that rely on longitudinal information assets or that are required to maintain information for long periods of time to meet legal, fiscal or administrative requirements will be unable to reliably reproduce and retrieve needed information.

Obviously this program is not without its costs.  However, the costs are minimal compared to the risk of doing nothing.  The proposed approach is non-intrusive in regard to the routine business operations of program areas.

The most direct cost of the program is the salary and benefits of the knowledge asset manager.  This position would be a professional level, with a salary on par with the salary of the University Archivist (ca. $50,000 plus benefits).

Advisory Board (Appendix A)

Knowledge Asset Manager Responsibilities (Appendix B)

Knowledge Asset Manager Position Description (Proposed)

Project Team:

Tom Wilsted

Elaine David

Betsy Pittman

Tom Ruller, Consultant

This project was funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

This page is maintained by B. Pittman