New Policy on Returning Records to the WNRC
New Policy on Returning Records to the WNRC that were Previously Permanently Withdrawn
It is the policy of NARA's Federal Records Centers (FRCs) to accept records that were previously permanently withdrawn only if the agency initiates a new transfer for those records and submits a new SF 135. This policy is outlined in the FRC Toolkit.
It has come to our attention that agencies sometimes return records that were previously permanently withdrawn without initiating a new transfer. These records create significant logistical and control problems for both the Washington National Records Center (WNRC) and our customers. Records are removed from the WNRC active inventory and space management systems at the time they are permanently withdrawn. If these records are returned without documentation initiating a new transfer, it is difficult to track the records, and it can lead to confusion and complications in managing disposition freezes.
In order to regain full intellectual and physical control over these records, we are implementing a new policy for returning records to the WNRC that were previously permanently withdrawn. This policy covers all records (both classified and unclassified).
If you return records to the WNRC after March 1, 2009 which your agency had previously permanently withdrawn, we will assume that you want us to store them. We will create new transfer documentation for the records including preparing a new SF 135 with a new transfer number for your agency. We will then send you a copy of the Standard Form 135 for your files. We will charge your agency for all applicable services (please see the attached fee schedule).
The WNRC is currently compiling lists of previously permanently withdrawn records that our customers returned to the WNRC before March 1, 2009. In the coming weeks, we will provide your list to you. After you receive the list, we request that you select one of the following four options:
- Tell us to create a new transfer for the records.
If you choose this option, we will create new transfer documentation for the records and will prepare a new SF 135 with a new transfer number for your agency. We will then send you a copy of the SF 135 for your files. We will
charge your agency for all applicable services.
- Tell us to return all records to you.
If you choose this option, please provide us with a contact name, full shipping address, email address, and telephone number of an authorized person for your agency to whom the records should be sent. Please ensure that your contact will accept the records when we send them. We will charge you a research fee and related shipping or courier costs (please see the attached fee schedule). Please note that if you choose this option and the boxes are again returned to us, we will create a new transfer for them and will charge your agency all applicable fees.
- Tell us that you want to review the records.
If you choose this option, after receiving the box listing, you must schedule an appointment to review the records and complete the review within four weeks. In order to schedule an appointment, you should contact the Research Room at the WNRC at (301) 778-1520. We will bring the records to the Research Room for your review (retrieval and reshelving fees will apply-please see the attached fee schedule, enclosure 1). After the review, you will have two weeks to notify us of your decision. If you do not notify us, we will choose option 1.
- Tell us to destroy the records, if you believe them to be eligible for disposal.
We will not destroy the records before adding them to the database. We have adopted this policy because:
- We want to afford you and your agency the greatest possible protection and tracking for your records.
- We want to have a record of the disposition of the records in question and a record would not exist without re-adding them to the NARA database (NARS-5 or ARCIS).
- We must have a positive concurrence from the agency before destroying records.
- We want to conduct the appropriate research to ensure that the records are not covered by a court-ordered freeze on disposition.
After receiving the box listing, you have ten working days to notify us which option you are choosing. If we do not receive a response, we will follow option #1.
To help your agency avoid the charges associated with returning records that were previously permanently withdrawn, the FRC provides many resources for you to inform and educate your staff about the most cost-effective methods for requesting and returning records. The reference section of our website and the reference chapter of the FRC toolkit provide step-by-step instructions for requesting and returning records. In addition, the WNRC provides free technical workshops for agency staff. Contact the WNRC at 301-778-1650 or see the current schedule.
We have developed this policy to help maintain full intellectual and physical control of your agency's holdings at the WNRC. We invite you come to one of our focus groups to discuss this new policy or explore alternatives. Please see enclosure 2 for dates and times.