New process will autodelete some chat records after 180 days

Since the university’s switch to mostly remote operations, UO employees have adopted a number of digital services like Microsoft Teams and Zoom to stay connected with colleagues and continue their work in support of students and the mission of the university.

To assist employees with management of records, University Records Management in partnership with Information Services is implementing a new chat automatic retention process for Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype for Business. The new process will delete most chat messages sent over these services after 180 days, helping employees more easily manage their records and reducing operational costs.

Autoretention also will be applied to student accounts for these services. Although students are not subject to records management policy, including them in autoretention will help protect students’ privacy in case personal information is shared through these chat services and will help maintain a consistent experience for all users.

“The goal for this project was to better assist employees and university departments manage their records,” said Jeff Jones, director of identity and directory services for Information Services. “Automating this process will eliminate the need for employees to manage these chats and will bring these services into compliance with our records management policies.”

The period of 180 days was chosen because it roughly aligns with the period of two academic terms, allowing instructors and students to reference chats from the previous term, if needed. But just like an impromptu hallway or office conversation, these chats do not generally need to be referenced after time has passed.

This retention process will not affect all chat messages shared through these programs. For example, channel chats and files shared in Microsoft Teams will not be affected. More information about what messages will and will not be affected is available on the records management website.

When the process is implemented June 30, all affected chats that are 180 days or older will be automatically deleted. After it is deleted, chats cannot be recovered. University employees are encouraged to review their chat history for messages that are subject to retention or that they would otherwise like to retain beyond this period and move them to a different storage location.

“As a public institution, we have a responsibility to maintain an orderly retention and destruction of all of our records,” said Julia Cohalan, assistant vice president and chief of staff for the vice president and general counsel. “Chat autoretention is one of several resources we are working on to help employees manage their records while adhering to the university’s records retention schedule.”

The overretention of records poses a number of problems. Ensuring records are retained and disposed of according to relevant laws and policies can reduce operational expenses, reduce digital clutter, minimize the risks and costs of discovery associated with litigation, and improve response time to public records requests.

For more information about chat autoretention, visit the records management website.

—By Jesse Summers, University Communications