Functional Schedules, Part 3: Anatomy of a Functional Schedule
The State Archives of North Carolina undertook a project to revamp the records retention and disposition schedules of state agencies. This training module reviews the anatomy of a functional schedule. So what will the functional schedule look like? There is a records retention and disposition schedule for each of the 16 functions of state government. This example for the Legal function shows the first page that will include a definition of the primary function as well as a listing of related secondary or sub-functions. There are also cross-references to other schedules where you can find records types that are related but not a part of this particular schedule. Any time you see text in Small Caps, this is a pointer to one of the other 15 functions. The executive summary calls attention to any records that are archival in nature or have unusual confidentiality requirements and provides some organizational suggestions for maintaining the records. Each of these secondary functions is defined, then specific records that are created or received in the course of carrying out that function will be described and assigned specific disposition instructions. Separate record types are specified to reflect retention and confidentiality requirements; however, this listing neither requires agencies to create records they do not have nor to organize files accordingly. In cases where there are similar records within other record types or under other functions, the “SEE ALSO” pointers lead you to those disposition instructions. For ease of reference, each record type is also assigned a records control (RC) number. These are a shorthand to help you identify the record type and its disposition. This example indicates the numbering scheme for Speeches (Records Control Number 1545.A): Public Relations is the 15th function Marketing and Publicity is the 4th sub-function under Public Relations Speeches are the 5th record type under Marketing and Publicity Retention abbreviations provide a quick method of identifying the retention requirement for a particular record: A means archival record that transfers to the State Archives. P means retain in office permanently or contact the State Archives for appraisal. R means destroy in office when reference value ends S means destroy in office when superseded or obsolete. and the less than means the retention period is shorter than one year. Any numerical designation indicates the number of years the record should be retained. If there are any state or federal regulations about the records, those citations are included in the right-most column. Authority indicates a rule governing the creation of records; Confidentiality restricts access to public records; and Retention sets the retention period. The lock symbol will appear alongside the RC Number for any confidential records; however, be aware that the presence of such a citation does not necessarily indicate that all records within that series are entirely confidential. If there are questions, verify with agency legal counsel or public information officer. Most records types have a specific retention period. The key to organizing these records and retaining them for the appropriate length of time is to know what triggers the clock for the retention period. We have attempted to be very clear in these functional schedules by identifying the event that starts the retention period. With a record such as an investigation, the retention period begins once the case is closed. With a record such as a report, the retention period begins once the report has been finalized. With a record such as a business plan, the retention period begins once the plan has been carried out. Once the content of a record with a disposition of reference value is no longer useful or significant to your office, it can be destroyed. This disposition usually applies to records that were not created by the agency, and for the sake of consistency, the schedule does require the agency to establish internal policies documenting when these records should be destroyed. With a record relating to an appointed or elected office, the retention period begins once the term of service ends. With a record that is produced in versions, an older iteration can be destroyed when the new version is received. Records with historical value are identified with one of three designations in the Disposition Instructions: Permanent records will be retained in office permanently. As illustrated in the flowchart, when Permanent records with the designation appraisal required no longer have administrative value in office, they should be appraised by a records analyst and an appraisal archivist from the Government Records Section. These individuals will determine whether the records should be retained in office permanently or transferred to the custody of the State Archives of North Carolina. Archival records will transfer to the custody of the State Archives of North Carolina for permanent retention. As with any situation in which a state agency has questions about the records it produces and maintains, the records analyst assigned to the agency is available for consultation on decisions about historical value. Our goal has been to create big buckets for records in order to make their disposition simpler. But in some instances, there are records that are unique to one agency. In order to provide disposition instructions, the records need to be incorporated into these functional schedules, so we developed a visual cue to alert people to the existence of these records types. The distinctive border around the Description and Disposition Instruction cells calls attention to these unique records, and the specific agency that creates or receives these records is identified within the Description. Even with this transition to functional schedules, we will still accept transfers of records to the State Records Center, either for eventual destruction or for transfer to the State Archives. This process will be very similar to current procedures. An appendix to each functional schedule will list the item numbers that will be used for these transfers. For any records series that have already transferred to the State Records Center, this item number will be the same one the agency has been using. It will be vital that records be boxed according to the trigger date so there won’t be any confusion about when records are eligible for destruction or eligible for transfer to the Archives. When generating schedules on an agency-by-agency basis, your records analyst has often allowed the individual preferences of the records creators or the limitations of the particular recordkeeping system in use to drive records retention. These new functional schedules, however, are based on best practice and will recommend the most appropriate retention periods. As has always been the case, agencies will have the flexibility to develop and document internal procedures that require the retention of records for a longer period of time. However, the authority granted by G.S. 132-3 mandates that records cannot be destroyed before the retention period established by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. We anticipate that each state agency will work with its records analyst to determine which of the 16 primary functions are relevant for that agency. We intend to generate a list of relevant functions and provide a mechanism for both the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and the custodial agency to sign their approval on this functional schedule. This document will also include a records management overview. Keep in mind: just because a record type is listed on a functional schedule, that should not be considered a mandate for your office to create that record. On the other hand, if after the schedules go into effect you find records that are not scheduled, we will review annually for amendments. If you would like more information about this functional analysis initiative, visit our blog at ncrecords.wordpress.com and click on the right-most tab. If you have any specific questions about the functional schedules, you may contact Becky McGee-Lankford (head of the Government Records Section), Courtney Bailey (project lead for functional schedules), or the records analyst assigned to your agency (as listed on our website). We thank you for taking the time to view this tutorial and look forward to working with you to implement this exciting initiative.