The last vestiges of wintery weather are finally being chased from the state, the evenings are staying brighter longer, and half of the conversations on the street have something to do with basketball and brackets. It can only mean one thing: it’s time for Sunshine Week 2015!
Sunshine Week is an annual national observance of the important principles of transparency in government. In the State of North Carolina, all records created or received in connection with the transaction of public business are public records, and are therefore subject to access by any person unless a specific state or federal statute makes these records confidential. The State Archives of North Carolina is committed to transparency through public records, both the government records in the Archives’ custody, which we make available to researchers, and the government records in the custody of the creating agency. If you are a custodian of public records, here are some things you can do in honor of Sunshine Week to encourage timely accessibility to your records.
- Review your agency’s procedures for responding to a public records request.
- Review the records your agency most commonly creates for any exceptions to public access. Our records retention schedules cite confidentiality statutes when they might apply to a records series, so if you’re unfamiliar with any confidentiality statutes surrounding your records, finding them in a retention schedule is a good place to start.
- Evaluate the way you’re maintaining your frequently-requested records. Are they well organized and in an easily accessible location (cutting back on the amount of time spent filling these requests)? Are confidential records separated from public ones, minimizing the risk of accidental disclosure (speeding redaction times)? Are important records such as minutes of public bodies being backed up using our microfilming program?
Public records are the way the people of North Carolina learn what we’re doing. Take good care of them, and you’re taking care of your agency’s legacy.