Records may be destroyed only on the basis of both the departmental records schedule developed for your office and the General Schedule for East Carolina University Records. The consistent and routine implementation of the disposition instructions listed in these schedules provides the proper and legal foundation for the disposition of public records through destruction or transfer to the University Records Center. Your departmental records disposition schedule lists those departmental-specific records maintained in your office as reported to the University Records Manager. It lists only those records that are unique to your office, or for which your office has university wide responsibility for maintaining, whether they are to be destroyed in your office or transferred to the University Records Center. The General Schedule addresses records commonly found in departments throughout the university, provides uniform descriptions and disposition instructions, and indicates minimum retention periods. Every schedule provides a brief description of each records group (following the item identification number) and instructions for their authorized disposition (following the words "DISPOSITION INSTRUCTIONS"). There is an indication of office(s) of record for each records group. These offices should consult their individual schedule to see if there are different disposition requirements.
Authority for these disposition instructions is contained in Chapters 121 and 132 of the General Statutes of North Carolina. Compliance with the disposition instructions listed will help ensure conformity with these laws. Compliance will also help assure that records of continuing value are retained and those no longer of value are destroyed. Procedures to be followed in applying this schedule are explained in the N.C. Administrative Code, Title 7, Chapter 4, Subchapter M, Section 500. Errors and omissions do not invalidate these schedules or render them obsolete. All provisions of these schedules remain in effect until they are officially superseded.
Supervisors or other responsible office personnel are requested to notify the University Records Manager whenever corrections, additions, or deletions in program records schedules should be made. The University Records Manager will then amend that schedule in order to ensure that it remains complete and accurate.
The official published version of the General Schedule is available through East Carolina University’s site on the World Wide Web (www), currently located at the following address: http://www.ecu.edu/business_manual/ (Please note that this address is subject to change over time.)
The University Records Manager will provide, upon request, the following assistance to departments in the maintenance and operation of records schedules:
There is currently no charge for these services.
The University Records Management Program assumes that every department at East Carolina University sends and receives electronic mail ("e-mail"). E-mail (unless it is personal in nature) contains information of value concerning, or evidence of, the administration, management, operations, activities, and business of an office. Like paper records---such as the memoranda, correspondence, reports, and the hundreds of other types of records received traditionally, for example, through interoffice or U.S. mail or other avenues---e-mail has administrative, legal, reference, and/or archival values. The content of electronic mail is a public record (according to G.S. 121-2 (8) and 132.1) and may not be disposed of, erased, or destroyed without specific guidance from the Department of Cultural Resources. This regulation, along with a current records retention and disposition schedule, is intended to provide for that guidance.
Accordingly, departments which use e-mail should normally retain or destroy e-mail by following the provisions of either their own department-specific records retention and disposition schedule or the General Schedule for East Carolina University Records. Additional guidelines are available from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources in their E-Mail as a Public Record in North Carolina guideline.
Taken together, these documents will guide the filing of e-mail (whether in paper or electronic format) within existing records series, and the handling of it according to the disposition instructions assigned to each such records series. Because of the characteristics of the medium, however, electronic mail also possesses a dual identity. E-mail is also used to transmit and receive messages that may have reference or administrative value but which are simultaneously of an ephemeral, temporary, or transient nature. As such, e-mail of this kind functions in some ways like telephone calls or telephone messages. Such messages remain public records but may be treated as having a reference or administrative value that ends when the user no longer needs the information such a record contains. E-mail of ephemeral or rapidly diminishing value may be erased or destroyed when the user has determined that its reference value has ended.
Departments need, however, to pay particular attention to the sometimes complex requirements for the retention of e-mail for longer periods of time, i.e. e-mail of more than transient value. E-mail in this category may be retained in electronic or paper form (the latter may in some cases be the only means of providing for archival retention, for example through microfilming of paper copies), but must be retained for as long as the period specified in a valid records schedule. If retained in paper form, the copies must retain transmission and receipt data. If electronic mail is retained in electronic form, office administrators need to insure that their electronic environment (client server, mainframe computer in or outside their department, or office personal computer) assures the retention of e-mail for the required period of time. Office administrators may need to contact relevant personnel at ITCS (Information Technology & Computing Services), at their own department computer systems unit, or any other personnel who operate computer units or systems immediately or remotely, to insure that such systems process e-mail in accordance with records retention schedules and provide for backups, disaster recovery, physical and electronic security, and the general integrity of the system, its components, and the records it generates and maintains. Office administrators may also need to assure that office filing systems adequately provide for the proper classification of electronic files (including e-mail) in the same manner as currently provided for paper-based files.
All ECU employees who use e-mail should regularly and consistently retain and delete e-mail in accordance with the program records retention and disposition schedule for their offices, the General Schedule for East Carolina University Records, and other instructions, as provided above. Retention of e-mail or any other records, whether in electronic or paper format, for longer than provided in a valid records retention and disposition schedule leads to inefficiency and waste and may subject the affected office to legal vulnerabilities.
According to the General Schedule for East Carolina University Records, records dispositions are determined by the content of the record, not the format. When electronic records are the primary form of a records series, care should be taken to maintain and backup these records at regular intervals to prevent the loss of information. Supervisors or other responsible office personnel should consult with ITCS and the University Records Manager regarding proper backup procedures, disposal and/or permanent retention of electronic records to ensure future usability.
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 East Carolina University 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.
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 department, and the General Schedule for East Carolina University Records, not replace or supersede either. Should a creating department 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 University Records Manager for assistance in creating a schedule.
While records of short-term value may be discarded as described above, all ECU employees should be familiar with specific program records retention and disposition schedules and applicable guidelines for their office, the General Schedule for East Carolina University 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.