Frequent Questions about Verbal Communications and Records
- What is a "verbal communication"?
- What kind of verbal communications might be a record?
- What types of communications are included?
- What is the best way to capture conversations that are records?
- Does this mean that I have to write a transcript of every conversation?
Verbal communication can mean a telephone conversation, a voice mail message or series of voice mails, a formal meeting, or even an informal chat with a coworker in the hallway.
Any oral communication where an Agency decision or commitment is made, and that is not otherwise documented, needs to be captured and placed in your recordkeeping system. For example:
- A meeting or conference call where a decision is made, if formal meeting minutes or notes are not taken.
- A telephone call giving guidance to a member of the regulated community.
- A voice mail message committing to take action.
- A telephone call responding to a member of the public about EPA policy.
- Face-to-face meetings
- Conference calls (including audio or video)
- Telephone calls (including cell phones, walkie-talkies, CB radios or Voice over IP (VoIP))
- Voice mail messages (including telephone or computer)
Write a memo to the file. Be sure to include:
- Date and time of the communication
- Type of communication (e.g., voice mail, telephone call)
- Details on any decisions or commitments
An alternative, for recorded meetings, is to create or obtain a transcript which can be saved as a record.
The second option would be to save the meeting’s recorded Wave file as a record. This is not recommended for three reasons: (1) it is easier to maintain text files, (2) it's easier to search text files, and (3) it is cheaper to store text files than audio files.
No, not all verbal communications are records. Only write a memo to the file or create or obtain a transcript for verbal communications if they are:
- needed to document your activities as a federal employee, contractor, or other EPA agent, and
- not otherwise captured in your recordkeeping system.