Remember, anything sent or received using e-mail can be a public record. It's the value of the content, not the format, which you should consider.
As public records, e-mail messages are subject to retention and disposition requirements like all records created in the normal course of state business. In addition, executive branch employees are subject to Executive Order No. 18 (EO No. 18), Email Retention and Archiving Policy, issued by Governor Beverly Perdue July 8, 2009. Executive Order No. 18 declares several key points regarding e-mail management and retention.
Most Executive Branch employees must comply with E.O.18. Additionally, some state agencies that do not have to conform to E.O. No. 18, are voluntarily complying with E.O. No. 18. If you are not sure whether your agency is complying with EO 18, ask your supervisor or Chief Records Officer.
In order to help employees comply with Executive Order No. 18, the Government Records Branch amended its General Schedule for State Agency Records and included an item for e-mail, E-mail Messages File. It reads:
ITEM G1. E-Mail Messages File. Electronic mail (e-mail) messages sent or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any Executive Branch agency.
DISPOSITION INSTRUCTIONS: E-mails sent or received shall not be permanently deleted or moved from an employee's e-mail account for at least 24 hours, except that any e-mail messages received that are not clearly related to the transaction of State business, e-mails containing advertising materials or offensive materials may be immediately and permanently deleted. E-mail messages sent or received will be retained in an e-mail archive system for 10 years unless an applicable state agency records retention and disposition schedule prescribes a longer retention period, such as permanent retention. Employees may delete or remove e-mails from their e-mail account after 24 hours. Executive Branch agencies not covered by Executive Order No. 18, the Legislative Branch and Judicial Branch are encouraged to follow this general schedule for state agency records. Agencies and branches not covered by Executive Order No. 18 should consult their program records retention and disposition schedules for how to manage e-mail messages.
For more information, see http://www.records.ncdcr.gov/stateagy.htm#gs.
Please note that according to the above disposition instructions state agencies employees should be aware that e-mail messages with historical value will be designated within program specific records retention and disposition schedules as having longer retention periods. * State agency employees consult both the General Schedule for State Agency Records, and their agency's program specific schedules when determining retention periods for e-mail messages.*