According to North Carolina General Statutes
121 and 132, every document, paper,
letter, map, book, photograph, film, sound recording, magnetic or other tape,
electronic data processing record, artifact, or other documentary material,
regardless of physical form or characteristic, made or received in connection
with the transaction of public business by any state, county, municipal agency,
or other political subdivision of government is considered a public record and
may not be disposed of, erased, or destroyed without specific guidance from
the Department of Cultural Resources. The Department of Cultural Resources recognizes
that many records exist that may have very short-term value to the creating
agency. These guidelines, along with an approved program records retention and
disposition schedule and the General Schedule for State
Agency Records, are intended to authorize the expeditious disposal of
records possessing only brief administrative, fiscal, legal, research, or reference
value, in order to enhance the efficient management of public records.
Examples of those records include:
Facsimile cover sheets containing only transmittal ("to" and "from") information,
or information that does not add significance to the transmitted material.
Routing slips or other records that transmit attachments.
Reservations and confirmations.
Personal messages (including electronic mail) not related to official
Preliminary or rough drafts containing no significant information that
is not also contained in the final drafts of the records.
Documents downloaded from the World Wide Web or by file transfer protocol
not used in the transaction of business.
Records that do not contain information necessary to conduct official
business, meet statutory obligations, carry out administrative functions,
or meet organizational objectives.
The records described above may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of when
their reference value ends.
This guideline is not intended to serve as authorization to destroy or otherwise
dispose of unscheduled records. This guideline is intended to complement the
use of both an approved records retention and disposition schedule for the creating
agency or unit, and the General Schedule for State Agency
Records, not replace or supersede either. Should a creating agency or
unit lack an approved program records retention and disposition schedule, it
may not destroy or otherwise dispose of any records in its custody, whether
in electronic, paper, or other format (including electronic mail), which are
not so authorized by the General Schedule. Such offices should contact the Government
Records Branch of the Division of Historical Resources for assistance in creating
While records of short-term value may be discarded as described above, all
public employees should be familiar with specific program records retention
and disposition schedules and applicable
guidelines for their office, the General
Schedule for State Agency Records, as well as the public records law
(G.S. §132). When in doubt
about whether a record has short-term value, or whether it has special significance
or importance, retain the record in question.