National Archives at St. Louis

Official Personnel Folders (OPF),
Federal (non-archival) Holdings and Access

Federal (non-archival) Holdings:

The National Personnel Records Center's (NPRC) Federal Records Center Program maintains the Official Personnel Folders (OPF) of former Federal civilian employees whose employment ended after 1951.

For records of former Federal civilian employees whose employment ended before 1952, see OPF, Archival Holdings and Access.

Who can access Federal (non-archival) OPFs?

OPFs for former Federal civilian employees separated after 1951 remain in the legal custody of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Access to such records is restricted under the Privacy Act of 1974 (P. L. 93-579) and only limited types of information from these records are releasable to non-authorized users under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Former Federal Civilian Employees (the person of record): may obtain copies of most civilian and personnel medical records on file at the NPRC, including copies of the Standard Form 50 (Personnel Action) via written request. Different release procedures apply for archival civilian personnel records (see OPF, Archival Holdings and Access). Please note: OPFs are retired to the center within 120 days after separation from Federal employment. If less than 120 days have elapsed since separation, write to the last employing Federal office.

Authorized Third Party Requesters, e.g., lawyers, doctors, historians, etc., may submit requests for information from individual records with the person of record's signed and dated authorization. They should state who they are in relation to the individual and the purpose of the request. All authorizations should specify exactly what the person of record is allowing to be released to a third party. Authorizations are valid one year from date of signature. A sample authorization is included for your review. The NPRC requires a court order, if the subject of the file is unable to sign. Please see Court Order Requirements for additional directions.

General Public: If the subject of the file is LIVING, and you DO NOT have authorization from the person of record, only certain data may be obtained. Information available under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act provide balance between the right of the public to obtain information from personnel records, and the right of the former Federal civilian employee to protect his/her privacy. If the subject of the file is DECEASED, copies of some documents and some information about the deceased may be releasable with proof of the subject's death. Proof of death is not required if the subject of record was born more than 100 years ago.

How do I submit a written request for copies of records?

Please note: the following information, regarding access, pertains only to records of former Federal civil servants whose employment ended after 1951. Records of civil servants whose employment ended before 1952.

Federal law [5 USC 552a(b)] requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing. Each request must be hand signed (in cursive) and dated (within the last year). Please identify the documents or information needed and explain the purpose of your request.

Certain basic information needed to locate civilian personnel records and to answer the request, includes:

  • full name used during Federal employment,

  • date of birth,

  • Social Security Number (if applicable),

  • name and location of employing Federal agency

  • beginning and ending dates of Federal service

  • complete return mailing address and/or authorized return fax number

Written requests (hand signed in cursive and dated) may be mailed or faxed to:

National Personnel Records Center, Annex
1411 Boulder Boulevard
Valmeyer, IL 62295

Fax: 618-935-3014

Please note: NPRC can not email documents due to privacy concerns. We will mail or fax copies of available records as authorized by the requester. Former Federal civilian employees who have a strong interest in viewing their own files in person, rather than receiving document copies by mail, may request an appointment with the Federal Records Center Research Room, or hire an independent researcher to examine the records on their behalf.

Costs: Generally there is no charge for basic personnel and medical information provided to former Federal civilian employees and authorized representatives from non-archival records. If your request involves a service fee, you will be notified as soon as that determination is made. See Archival Records for information on archival holdings and associated copy fees: archival OPFs are subject to the NARA fee schedule that authorizes the Agency to collect fees from the public for copies of archival records (44 USC 2116c and 44 USC 2307).

Other Sources of Civilian Personnel Information:

  • For information on retirement services write to:

    U.S. Office of Personnel Management
    Retirement Operations Center
    Post Office Box 45
    Boyers, PA 16017

  • For information on reinstatement to Federal employment write to:

    Office of Personnel Management
    Employment Service
    1900 E Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20415

  • For information on U.S. Postal Employee medical folders write to:

    National Medical Director, Office of Safety and Health
    Employee Relations Department
    U.S. Postal Service Headquarters
    475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
    Washington, DC 20206-4261

For information on genealogy, go to NARA's Resources for Genealogists.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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