How Should Public Records be Retained?
Pursuant to the NC Public Records Law, custodians should keep all public records in a secure, preferably fireproof place. Generally, public records should be kept in the same building where they are normally used. The Department of Cultural Resources is responsible for establishing standards, procedures and techniques for managing public records. Please contact the University Records Officer in the Office of General Counsel for detailed guidance on records retention best practices.
Can a Custodian Dispose of Old/Unused Public Records?
Pursuant to the NC Public Records Law and G.S. 121-5(b), no person may destroy, sell, loan, or otherwise dispose of public records without consent of the Department of Cultural Resources or under approved procedures.
An employee seeking to destroy potentially public university records may do so only in compliance with the UNC General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, the University General Schedule, NCSU REG01.25.12 – University Records Retention and Disposition Regulation, and any applicable Unit Specific Agenda Schedule. These schedules set out how long the University must keep certain records before those records may be destroyed. Employees should always contact the University Records Officer in the Office of General Counsel before destroying records. That official will advise you on the matter.
The University also has a specific email retention regulation, NCSU REG01.25.12 – University Records Retention and Disposition, that should be reviewed prior to the destruction of email.
How do I Destroy Records Once the Retention Period has Expired?
Public Records that have met their retention requirements under an approved schedule and which are not subject to legal or other audit holds, and Unscheduled Records that have been specifically approved for destruction by the Department of Cultural Resources, may be destroyed in one of the following ways:
- Shredded or torn up to destroy the record content of the documents or material concerned
- Placed in acid vats so as to reduce the paper to pulp and to terminate the existence of the documents or material concerned
- Buried under such conditions that the record nature of the documents or materials will be terminated
- Sold as waste paper, provided that the purchaser agrees in writing that the documents or materials concerned will not be resold as documents or records
- Deletion, overwriting, or erasure of electronically stored records in a manner approved by Information Technology staff; or
- Other methods of disposal that are proportionate to the confidentiality of the record (for example, routine non-confidential public records may be put in the trash, but records covered by confidentiality laws must be irretrievably destroyed).
Please address questions on records retention to the University Records Officer in the Office of General Counsel or the NCSU Library Archivist. Additional information can be found by visiting the website of the Government Records Branch of North Carolina.