Text Messages Subject to Open Records Disclosure
Did you know that texts produced using your cell phone or personal device to conduct University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) business are subject to open records disclosure laws? As government employees, we are required to maintain these records for the duration of their retention period.
Text messages are considered correspondence and retention periods are defined by UTSA’s Records Retention Schedule and approved by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The retention periods and the types of correspondence includes:
- Transitory Information (Temporary). Records of temporary usefulness that are not an integral part of a records series of an agency, that are not regularly filed within an agency’s recordkeeping system, and that are required only for a limited period of time for the completion of an action by an official or employee of the agency or in the preparation of an ongoing records series. Retention Period = AV, as long as administratively valuable.
- Non-Administrative Correspondence (General). Incoming/outgoing and internal correspondence/email, in any media, pertaining to or arising from the routine operations of the policies, programs, services, or projects of an institution. Retention Period = 2 years.
- Administrative Correspondence. Incoming/outgoing and internal correspondence/email pertaining to the formulation, planning, implementation, interpretation, modification, or redefinition of the programs, services, or project of an institution and the administrative regulations, policies, and procedures that govern them. Retention Period = 4 years.
Because searching for, and producing, work-related texts on your personal device may prove to be cumbersome and time-consuming, you may want to consider using your UTSA email account instead to transmit work-related material. Likewise, you may want to ask your co-workers to contact you at your work email to facilitate compliance with records policy.
For more information regarding texts as records, please contact Open Records staff in the Office of Legal Affairs at 210-458-7500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- UTSA’s retention schedule: https://new.utsa.edu/openrecords/docs/retention-schedule-slr-105---utsa-10-2014.pdf
- Section 552.004 of the Government Code, Preservation of Information: https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/GV/htm/GV.552.htm
- FAQ: How Does S.B. 944 Affect Us? https://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/blog/2019/09/faq-how-does-s-b-944-affect-us/