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RECMGMT-L  September 2001

RECMGMT-L September 2001

Subject:

Destruction of Electronic Records

From:

Matt Cioffi <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 27 Sep 2001 10:31:28 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (52 lines)

Hello,

I have several questions about the destruction of electronic records and
what kinds of policies and procedures are in place at other institutions.

I work in a research setting where we use a lot of databases that are
governed by a Data Use Aggreement (DUA) funded by a grant from a government
agency.  At the end of a project, when the final paper is published and the
data is no longer needed (inactive), the DUA will often require that the
original databases be destroyed for the safety of the participants in the
original survey.  In most cases the government agency does not give
guidance as to what they mean by destruction of the data.  Simply deleting
the data off the hard drive or server is all the agency usually asks for or
to have the original tapes/CDs the data was delivered on to be physically
destroyed.  I know that deleting an electronic file is not deleting the
data, only deleting the pointer to the data, so additional measures need to
be taken to ensure that the data is indeed wiped off the hard drive.  Also,
in the course of a project, usually many backups of the original data set
are made.  Some are made by individual users and stored on a disk or CD at
their desks.  Other backups are made by the informations system's backup
procedures and these tapes are kept for longer periods of time, up to five
years.

Does anyone have good examples of policies and procedures that can be put
in place to mitigate and control the copies of electronic databases?  For
example, one thing we thought about doing here is to identify those
electronic records for a project that must be destroyed at the end of the
project to be placed in special directory on the server deemed to be for
short-term backups.  These short term backups would only be kept for one or
two months.  Using this procedure would give us some confidence that the
original databases would be destroyed within a month or two after the
original was removed from the active system.

What kinds of structures/policies should be in place while the records are
active that will help when it comes time to destroy the electronic record?

When electronic records are destroyed, what kinds of documentation are
commonly used and needed? The DUA does not require us to document the
destruction of the data, but it seems like we should have some procedure in
place, so when the government agency audits us, we can prove that we
complied with the DUA.  Our databases we use can be very small, a few
thousand records or very large, in the millions of records so sometimes due
to the scale we may need to contract out a "data muncher" to do the
physical destruction of the original tapes.

Any help or links to destruction of electronic data would be greatly
appreciated!

Matthew J. Cioffi

List archives at http://lists.ufl.edu/archives/recmgmt-l.html
Contact [log in to unmask] for assistance

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