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University of North Carolina
General Records Retention & Disposition Schedule

About the Schedule

The UNC General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule is an agreement between the University System and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources governing the retention and disposition of records subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law. Also known as the University General Schedule, its purpose is to inform employees how long records are to be maintained, as well as their final disposition. The retention requirements are based on administrative, fiscal, legal, and historical values. If records are involved in an audit, legal action, or in a legal hold, they must be kept until all actions have been resolved or legal holds have been removed by University Counsel, regardless of the record retention schedule.

The University General Schedule was approved on June 5, 2007 by Erskine Bowles, President of the University of North Carolina System and Lisbeth Evans, Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources. It supersedes the previous edition issued in 1991. This schedule provides the authority to dispose of University records in accordance with the provisions of Chapters 121 and 132 of the General Statutes of North Carolina.

Public Records with Short-Term Value:
Guidelines for their Retention and Disposition

According to North Carolina General Statutes 121 and 132, every document, paper, letter, map, book, photograph, film, sound recording, magnetic or other tape, electronic data processing record, artifact, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristic, made or received in connection with the transaction of public business by any state, county, municipal agency, or other political subdivision of government is considered a public record and may not be disposed of, erased, or destroyed without specific guidance from the Department of Cultural Resources.  The Department of Cultural Resources recognizes that many records exist that may have very short-term value to the creating agency.  These guidelines, along with any approved program records retention and disposition schedule, are intended to authorize the expeditious disposal of records possessing only brief administrative, fiscal, legal, research, or reference value, in order to enhance the efficient management of public records.  Examples of those records include:

  • facsimile cover sheets containing only transmittal ("to" and "from") information, or information that does not add significance to the transmitted material
  • routing slips or other records that transmit attachments
  • reservations and confirmations
  • personal messages (including electronic mail) not related to official business
  • preliminary or rough drafts containing no significant information that is not also contained in the final drafts of the records
  • documents downloaded from the World Wide Web or by file transfer protocol not used in the transaction of business
  • records that do not contain information necessary to conduct official business, meet statutory obligations, carry out administrative functions, or meet organizational objectives

The records described above may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of when their reference value ends.

These guidelines are not intended to serve as authorization to destroy or otherwise dispose of unscheduled records.  They are intended to complement the use of an approved records retention and disposition schedule for the creating government or agency, not replace or supersede it.  Should a creating government or governmental agency lack an approved records retention and disposition schedule, it may not destroy or otherwise dispose of any records in its custody, whether in electronic, paper, or other format (including electronic mail) until it receives approval of its "Request and Approval of Unscheduled Records Disposal" (pdf: requires a reader such as Adobe Reader).  Such offices should contact the University Archivist or University Records Officer for assistance in creating a schedule though final approval of any University records retention schedules shall require the consent of the Government Records Branch of the Division of Historical Resources, N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

While records of short-term value may be discarded as described above, all public employees should be familiar with specific records retention and disposition schedules and applicable guidelines for their office and the public records law (G.S. 132).  When in doubt about whether a record has short-term value, or whether it has special significance or importance, retain the record in question.

Note: Questions about the University General Schedule should be directed to 6-TECH at (336) 256-TECH (8324) or by email at