Office of Research Reminder on Public Record Requests and Records Retention

The Office of Research often receives public records requests and, as such, has Guideline 16 available to assist faculty. Being a state institution, WSU’s records, including those of faculty, are subject to the Washington State Public Records Act (RCW 42.56) and any applicable exemptions.

A public records request is a request from a member of the public asking for an identifiable university record, which, according to BPPM 90.05 and RCW 42.56.010, includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function that is prepared, owned, used, or retained by the university, regardless of physical form or characteristics. This can include research records, records encompassing a faculty member’s research program or independent scholarly activities, and other similar activities.  

If you receive a public records request, do not respond to it yourself. Instead, immediately forward the request to the WSU Office of Public Records or contact them at 509-335-3928. If you have concerns or questions about the request, please work with the Office of Public Records. If the request is based on a court order or subpoena, you should immediately contact the Attorney General’s Office at 509-335-2636.

University personnel are responsible for protecting records from damage and disorganization for the retention periods indicated on approved retention schedules which can be found in WSU BPPM 90.01. WSU additionally has BPPM 40.35 with helpful information on managing research records.

The university and its faculty have a common interest and a shared responsibility to ensure that our research is appropriately and accurately recorded, retained for the legally required length of time, and available for review under appropriate circumstances (including public records requests). For more information regarding record retention or other Office of Research guidelines and policies, please visit the ORSO Policies and Guidelines website.