State Agency Schedules

In 2015, the Records Analysis Unit of the Government Records Section at the State Archives of North Carolina (SANC) began a project to revamp the retention and disposition schedules for state agencies in North Carolina. Using the technique of functional analysis, whereby the functions of an institution are defined and the records that document these functions are linked, SANC identified 16 functions of North Carolina state government, listed the associated record types, and developed disposition instructions. The overarching goals of the project were to simplify records retention, make the assignment of records dispositions more transparent, and ensure the retention of records with permanent value, either within the creating agency or at the State Archives, which is housed within the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR). These functional schedules standardize disposition instructions across State government and focus on the function of government that necessitates the creation of a record rather than on the particular agency that creates or maintains the record. Therefore, users do not need to find relevant record types based on agency hierarchy but instead can identify record types relevant to the particular function of government they perform. In addition, if the responsibilities of an agency change over time, the appropriate retention and disposition instructions for the records they generate will already be identified within one of the 16 functional schedules developed by SANC, increasing both efficiency and consistency in records management. Realizing that an increasing share of state agency records are being created and maintained electronically, SANC also attempted to group records with similar functions in “big buckets” to facilitate the appropriate disposition of these records that are housed in document management systems.

The Records Analysis Unit will conduct annual records reviews with State agencies and document any changes in agency responsibilities. G.S. § 121-5(b) and G.S. § 132-3(a) grant the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources the authority to regulate the destruction of public records, and the disposition instructions reflect best practice in records management. In the absence of specific state or federal retention requirements, SANC surveyed other records management experts for guidance on the retention of records. The retention periods established in these functional schedules should be interpreted as minimums. If an agency chooses to retain records longer than required in the disposition instructions, this practice should be documented in internal agency procedures. In all cases, agencies shall maintain logs documenting destructions. The presence of a records series on one of these schedules does not obligate an agency to create that record; however, if a record is not represented on any of these schedules, an agency may not destroy it without explicit authorization from DNCR.