Gmail Transition: How can I preserve my email records?

mspring Electronic Records, Training

On November 13, 2012, State of Utah employees will transition from GroupWise email accounts to Gmail email accounts. Every state employee is responsible for managing his or her own email account in accordance with state approved retention periods.

Remember: Not all email correspondence qualify as government records. Email correspondence may be government records depending on the content. Email correspondence that discusses government business, or is government work-function related, is a government record.

State employees will want to follow these steps to ensure that all appropriate email records are successfully transferred to Gmail.

1. Determine whether email correspondence is a government record. State employees should refer to this flow chart for help identifying email records.

2. Delete all non-record correspondence.

Non-record correspondence has no business-related content. Non-record correspondence should not be retained on state email systems. Non-record correspondence should be deleted as soon as reasonably possible.

  • personal messages (birthdays, errands, etc)
  • listserv messages
  • product/vendor solicitations
  • spam

3. Determine the type of email correspondence. There are three categories of email correspondence.

Unique agency correspondence
Unique agency correspondence refers to the email correspondence state agencies create and receive in response to agency programs and are created and received by all levels of state employees (directors, managers, professional staff, temporary staff, etc). Unique agency correspondence conducted via email should be kept for the entire retention period of the records series they support. Unique agency email correspondence may be transferred to another agency records keeping system for more effective management. Additionally, it may be deleted at the completion of the retention period or, if permanent, transferred to State Archives. State employees should contact the agency records officer to find out which approved record series retention schedule and disposition is appropriate to unique agency email correspondence.

  • Contract correspondence
  • Email correspondence as part of maintenance work orders
  • Email correspondence approving the destruction of government records

Transitory correspondence
Much of the email correspondence generated by state employees is transitory. Transitory email correspondence is created and received by all state employees (directors, managers, professional staff, temporary staff, etc). Generally, transitory email does not support the core functions or programs of the agency, which typically have unique retention schedules. Transitory email correspondence is only kept as long as there is an administrative reason to support its retention. Administrative need may be 15 minutes, six months, or longer. Transitory email correspondence is managed by each individual state employee. Any questions regarding the retention period of transitory email records should be directed to the agency records officer.

  • Answers to requests for information from co-workers, other state agencies, or the public.
  • Comments on reports or other documentation from co-workers, managers, etc.
  • Feedback requests on routine business matters
  • General email between co-workers that relates to agency business

Policy/Program Correspondence

Policy and program email correspondence typically originate only from the executive director or other high-level staff. Policy and program email correspondence has historical value and must be retained permanently. Policy and program records must be transferred to State Archives. Agency records officers should oversee the transfer of policy and program correspondence. The agency administration should work with the agency records officer to determine in-office retention and transfer policies for permanent email records.

  • Documents agency policies
  • Provides documentation of legal rights
  • Documents the major transactions, services, and programs of the state

4. Identify the appropriate retention for email correspondence.

Types of Email




Non-record none delete immediately personal message, listservs, product solicitations, spam
Unique agency see agency records officer see agency records officer program or project case files, etc.
Transitory until admin. need ends delete answers to requests, comments, feedback, general work email
Policy/program permanent transfer to State Archives document agency policies, document legal rights, major transactions, services and programs

5. Email correspondence 10+ years old will not be transferred from GroupWise to Gmail. Employees with email correspondence that must be retained 10+ years according to approved retention periods will need to make special arrangements with DTS to have these email records transferred.

6. Remember: Every state agency has a designated records officer. State employees should direct questions or concerns regarding email retention to the designated records officer.

7. Employees need to work with the agency records officer to identify the appropriate, approved retention period for unique agency email correspondence.

8. Destruction of unique agency email correspondence should be performed under the approval of the agency records officer and in accordance with established procedures.

9. Employees should follow the following guidelines when creating and managing email correspondence:

  1. Preserve the record-copy
  2. Preserve the thread
  3. Use meaningful subject lines
  4. Conduct agency business on agency systems
  5. Do not combine business and personal email.
  6. Do not retain copies
  7. Do no retain non-records.

Additional Resources:

Email FAQ

Electronic Mail Management, Retention, and Disposition