Records Managers

NARA Bulletin 2002-02

November 7, 2001

NARA Bulletin 2002-02

TO: Heads of Federal agencies

SUBJECT: Introduction of two additional electronic records transfer methods

EXPIRATION DATE: September 30, 2002

1. What is the purpose of this bulletin?
This bulletin informs you that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is accepting the transfer of permanent records to the National Archives via two additional electronic records transfer methods, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Digital Linear Tape (DLT), Type IV. NARA intends to modify the transfer regulations in 36 CFR 1228.270 to include these two methods, and possibly others, within the next six months. In the interim, NARA will provide agencies with the opportunity to use these methods. NARA also intends to test any limitations on the types of files that are suitable for these methods and any specifications that need to be included in the regulations.

2. What is File Transfer Protocol (FTP)?
FTP is a media-less transfer method that can be used to transfer electronic records. FTP operates by using special software located at the sending and receiving sites. This software, in combination with a telecommunications network, provides the platform for transferring electronic records.

3. What are the limitations for using FTP as a transfer method?
Several factors may limit the use of FTP as a transfer method: the presence of national security-classified or other FOIA-exempt information in records, number of records, record file size, and available bandwidth. The sending agency and NARA will mutually select the appropriate files for FTP transfer. Agencies interested in sending electronic records scheduled for transfer to NARA through FTP should contact the Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division.

4. How will the transfer documentation be handled for FTP transfers?
The transfer documentation must include a signed Agreement to Transfer Records to the National Archives (SF 258). It must also include the technical documentation, in either electronic or paper format, that is needed to understand and use the electronic records. This technical documentation must include the information specified in 36 CFR 1228.270(e). Send the SF 258 and any paper documentation to NARA via United States Postal Service or other delivery service before arranging for the FTP transfer. You may send any documentation in electronic format to NARA via FTP as part of the transfer of the electronic records or through any other acceptable method of transfer as specified in 36 CFR 1228.270.

5. What is Digital Linear Tape (DLT) Type IV magnetic cartridge tape?
DLT Type IV cartridge tape is a high-density magnetic cartridge tape that can store up to 40 gigabytes of information on each cartridge. DLT Type IV tapes are used by selected tape drive units produced by several companies.

6. What are the limitations for using DLT, Type IV as a transfer method?
Technical limitations of media and tape drive should be coordinated with NARA. Agencies interested in sending electronic records scheduled for transfer to NARA on DLT Type IV media should contact the Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division.

7. How will the transfer documentation be handled for DLT transfers?
The transfer documentation must include a signed Agreement to Transfer Records to the National Archives (SF 258). It must also include the technical documentation, in either electronic or paper format, that is needed to understand and use the electronic records. This technical documentation must include the information specified in 36 CFR 1228.270(e). Send the SF 258 with the DLT and any paper documentation to NARA via United States Postal Service or other delivery service. In addition, send any documentation in electronic format to NARA on the DLT with the records or on another media as specified in 36 CFR 1228.270.

8. Why is NARA adding FTP and DLT tape capability to the electronic records transfer methods for this trial period?
These additional transfer methods offer advantages to transferring agency and NARA:

  • Reduce the record preparation and shipping costs between agencies. NARA currently accepts electronic records transfers on 9-track tape, 3480-class cartridges and CD-ROM. A significant number of scheduled electronic files will take multiples of these media units to complete a transfer. The multitude of these media units add bulk and weight to the records transfer and increases the agency's costs for transferring records. In addition, the typical transfer rate and data capacity for copying records to the DLT Type IV tape cartridge are much greater when compared to the current NARA-approved transfer media. For example, a DLT Type IV cartridge can hold up to 200 times the amount of a 3480-class tape cartridge within approximately the same form factor space.

  • Reduce the shipping time between agencies. NARA can receive FTP-eligible electronic files within minutes.

  • Improve record and file integrity. For smaller electronic records transfers, FTP offers the ability to maintain and determine file integrity through error correction and error detection mechanisms at the time of file transmission.

9. What electronic records are covered by this method?
This method covers electronic records scheduled for permanent retention according to a NARA-approved agency records retention schedule.

10. What must I do to employ FTP or DLT Type IV in transferring electronic copies of scheduled records?
Contact the NARA's Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division (NWME) at (301) 837-1555 ext. 232.

11. Can my agency still submit electronic records using the media specified in 36 CFR 1228.270?
Yes. NARA will continue to accept the electronic records scheduled for transfer on media currently specified in 36 CFR 1228.270.

12. Where can I get copies of 36 CFR 1228.270?
Your agency records officer should have paper copies of this bulletin and 36 CFR 1228.270. These documents are also available electronically on the NARA web site. NARA Bulletin 2002-02 is posted at: bulletins.

13. Who do I contact for further information?
If your question concerns records appraisal, your records officer should address questions to the NARA appraiser or NARA records analyst with whom your agency normally works. A list of the appraisal and scheduling work groups is posted. If your question concerns the transfer of scheduled electronic records, your records officer should contact the Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division (NWME) staff by telephone at: (301) 837-1555. NWME staff may also be reached at: cer@nara.gov.


JOHN W. CARLIN
Archivist of the United States

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