At the 2014 Chief Records Officers meeting, the State Archives of North Carolina solicited feedback about our operations from state agency and university Chief Records Officers. One of the things a large number of the officers expressed interest in was a reformatted version of the General Schedule for State Agency Records. Thanks to this feedback, we are proud to present an update to the General Schedule, effective May 1, 2015. You may access the new General Schedule on our website at this link. Please note that since this schedule is made effective by signature of the Secretaries of Cultural Resources and Administration, all state agency employees should now be following this schedule to determine the retention periods for their non-program-specific records.
So, how is this schedule different from the 2009 version? Let’s start by looking at the most obvious change: the formatting.
How’s the new format different?
The 2009 version of the General Schedule was in narrative form, much like the current State Agency Program Schedules. Items were listed and immediately followed by their descriptive paragraph and disposition instructions. The 2015 version has moved this information into an easy-to-read table format, allowing users to locate records series and disposition instructions more quickly. The table format also allowed us to introduce a number of other changes:
- More Detailed Citations. New to the 2015 General Schedule is an additional column listing legal citations affecting a record series. These citations might establish the creation of the records in question, designate a minimum retention period, or make the records (or information in the records) confidential. Additionally, records series that may contain confidential records or information are designated with the padlock symbol you can see under Series #G13 in the sample page above. We hope that this change will make it easier for people to spot when records may be confidential.
- Streamlined Disposition Instructions. Previous versions of the General Schedule wrote out an entire series’ disposition instructions in one paragraph, including multi-part disposition instructions and information about a series’ possibility of being subject to audit or litigation holds. The 2015 General Schedule separates multi-part instructions into parts a, b, and c, as necessary (see the disposition instructions for Series #G8, Civil Rights File, for an example). It also indicates a records series’ potential to be audited by using an asterisk and directing the reader’s attention to general information about audit and litigation holds at the bottom of each page.
- Improved Cross-References. Separating out series descriptions allowed us to include some additional information: cross-references to related series elsewhere in the General Schedule. Cross-references are italicized and give the title and series number to help readers navigate to the related series. Additionally, cross-references are hyperlinked on the electronic copy, making navigation as simple as a click.
- Additional Navigational Tools. In addition to the cross-references, the Table of Contents is now hyperlinked. The index has been expanded, and includes additional records that might be part of a record series, but are harder to find using the title alone. Finally, the entire schedule incorporates sidebars and headers to make it easier to keep track of where you are in the schedule, whether it’s printed or electronic.
The formatting isn’t the only thing we changed, though. The 2009 schedule was close to 6 years old, so a lot of the content needed updating as well. Here are some of the highlights.
What Else is New?
- Executive Order 12. On May 21, 2013, Governor Pat McCrory issued Executive Order 12, reducing the mandatory minimum retention period for email sent and received by executive branch agencies from 10 years to 5. The new General Schedule brings our retention schedules in line with this Executive Order.
- Revamped IT Standard. The 2009 version of the General Schedule had a very detailed standard covering information technology records, grouping many specific, discrete records series by office function within an IT department. The 2015 version of the schedule takes a more general approach. There are fewer records series, covering broader functions, and the series are now listed alphabetically within the standard.
- Improved Consistency with Local Government Schedules. Prior to the Government Records Section’s reorganization in 2013, schedule development for state and local government took very different trajectories. Consequently, similar records series could have two different retention periods depending on whether the records were in the custody of a state or local office. During the course of this update, the Records Analysis Unit compared the General Schedule with local schedules, and, where possible, made records series and disposition instructions more consistent.
- New Front Matter and Appendices. Ever have a question about your records and can’t get hold of an analyst? We’ve included summaries of some of our most frequently discussed topics in an expanded front matter and in appendices to the General Schedule. Material considered essential to understanding the retention schedule and records management is in the front; additional records management resources are in the back.
We hope that state agency officials and employees find this new layout easier to navigate, and find the content changes to be helpful. If you’re interested in more details on what’s changed, contact your agency’s records analyst. We can provide you with a more detailed list of changes, including series-level crosswalks between the 2009 and 2015 versions.