When can I delete my email?

(This pertains to County and Municipal Government employees, not to State Government employees.)

Email is a public record as defined by G.S. §121-5 and G.S. §132. Electronic mail is just as much a record as any traditional paper record, and must be treated in the same ways.

Screenshot of a well-organized Outlook Sent Items folder It is the content of each message that is important. If a particular message would have been filed as a paper memo, it should still be filed (either in your email program or in your regular directory structure), and it should be retained the same length of time as its paper counterparts. It is inappropriate to destroy email simply because storage limits have been reached. Some examples of email messages that are public records and therefore covered by this policy include:

• Policies or directives;
• Final drafts or reports and recommendations;
• Correspondence and memoranda related to official business;
• Work schedules and assignments;
• Meeting agendas or minutes;
• Any document or message that initiates, facilitates, authorizes, or completes a business transaction;
• Messages that create a precedent, such as issuing instructions and advice.
From the Department of Cultural Resources E-Mail Policy

Other publications will be particularly helpful in managing your email:
• Online Tutorial: Managing Your Inbox: E-mail as a Public Record (note that references to Executive Order 18 do not apply to local government employees).
Guidelines for E-mail as a Public Record in North Carolina: Tips and Tricks for Using Microsoft Exchange Software to Manage E-mail

Also, if you have not done so already, be sure to check out Rachel’s post, The Happy Inbox.


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  1. Pingback: Taming Your Digital Files | The G.S. 132 Files

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