The State Archives of North Carolina has released an update to its Best Practices for Electronic Communications Usage in North Carolina: Text and Instant Message document. Released in February 2017, this document is an update to the 2012 guidance document for state agencies using text and instant messages in the workplace, including employee responsibilities according to general statutes and records retention and disposition schedules.
IM and texting are methods of communication that can make communication fast and easy regardless of when or where the participants in a conversation are. They can be quick exchanges to arrange meeting for lunch, or they can be long exchanges about complex topics. But while IM and text messaging can make day-to-day communications easier, when they are used in the conducting of public business—and therefore the creation of public records—they can also make records management more complicated. GS 132 defines public records by content, not by media or format. If an employee uses a workplace-issued or personal device to conduct public business, those communications including texts and IMS are considered public records. As such, employees and agencies are responsible for understanding and following all applicable retention schedules for those records, even if texts and instant messages are not explicitly mentioned in the schedule.
The updated Best Practices for Electronic Communications document includes considerations for the use of messaging technologies for public business, appropriate personal and professional use of texts and IMs, security concerns, and records management and retention of electronic communications, and can be found on the State Archives web page, along with its companion document, Best Practices for Electronic Communications Usage in North Carolina: Guidelines for Implementing a Strategy for Text and Instant Messages.
For more guidance on digital records management, please visit http://archives.ncdcr.gov/For-Government/Digital-Records