Federal Records Centers

Frequently Asked Questions about FRC Electronic Media Storage

  • I have records on electronic media that I would like to transfer to an FRC. Where do I start? The transfer process for electronic media begins with the SF 135, Records Transmittal and Receipt Form. In section 6(f) of the SF 135, please indicate the following:
    • the type of electronic media
    • a detailed inventory of the media
    • the type of electronic system, if applicable (e.g. payroll system, etc.)
    • the method of shipping
    • the desired storage location for the media (slotted or container storage in the ERV, or climate-controlled storage outside the ERV)
    • frequency of rotation of the media, if any
    • whether the media contains personally identifiable information (see question 14, page 19 for more information) Indicate in 6(g) if the media contains classified National Security Information.
    The Archives and Records Centers Information System (ARCIS) will be deployed on an incremental basis. Visit the ARCIS website for information on how to initiate a transfer of electronic media using ARCIS.
  • How is electronic media tracked at the FRC? If your agency elects to use the slotted storage in the ERV, FRC staff will ensure that
    the items received from your agency match the itemized inventory on the SF 135, generate bar codes for each media item, and track these media at the object level. Media stored in containers will be bar coded and tracked at the container level. FRC staff will match bar codes on the media or containers with bar codes on the slots and/or shelving.
  • How do I recall electronic media from an FRC? To recall your agency's electronic media use ARCIS.
    -- Visit the ARCIS website for instructions on placing a reference request through ARCIS. The FRC can offer 24/7 access to your agency's vital records. For details on after-hours access to records, please contact your local FRC director. Please note that an emergency reference fee, plus other standard reference charges, will apply for emergency requests.
  • How do I return electronic media to the FRC? Your agency may ship refiles of electronic media to the FRC via commercial courier or batch them for pick-up by an FRC courier in areas where this service is available. A copy of the reference request should accompany the media to alert the FRC that these are refiles and ensure proper handling. Agencies are advised to store the media in a climate-controlled area while they are in agency custody and while awaiting pickup by a courier. Once you return your media to the FRC, we will return them to their original location (slot or shelf), and they will retain their original bar code.
  • Does the FRC offer pickup and delivery of electronic media? The FRC offers courier service to agencies located within the metropolitan area of FRC locations. This service can be set up on an occasional basis (e.g., to pick up new transfers or deliver requested media) or on a regular, recurring basis (e.g., a regular backup media rotation service). All FRC couriers are uniformed Federal employees driving climate-controlled vehicles. If your records require higher levels of security, we offer dual-driver protective service, dedicated runs, and drivers with classified clearances.
  • What special services do you offer for my agency's backup tapes? Backup tapes are crucial to maintaining the integrity of your agency's data after minor glitches or major disasters. FRCs can store your agency's backup tapes and can assist you with the tracking and rotation of this media. When you transfer your backup tapes, indicate in section 6(f) of the SF 135 your preferred rotation schedule. A member of the FRC staff will contact you to confirm the details of your agency's rotation requirements (for example, the location of the pickup, point(s) of contact, telephone numbers, directions, where to park, etc.). Fees for rotation services include a processing fee to initiate the service and a standard labor rate for management of the tape rotation. We will waive the usual processing fees for subsequent rotations. We charge a premium fee for after-hours, emergency access to media.
  • Which FRC locations can store and service electronic media? There are ERVs currently located at the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD, and at the Fort Worth, TX, FRC. All Federal agencies, regardless of their geographical location, may store electronic media at these facilities. In addition to the two locations with specialized ERVs, all FRCs can store electronic media in climate-controlled space. Please see Figure 1 on page 9 to determine whether this service is appropriate for your electronic media.
  • Where can I acquire appropriate storage containers for my electronic media? Rugged plastic media containers offer the best protection for transporting electronic media. To purchase media containers, visit the General Services Administration website (search on "media storage case"). Contact your FRC director to discuss required container sizes for storage in the ERV. Please note that cardboard boxes are not appropriate storage containers for electronic media, and due to contamination concerns, they will not be permitted in the ERV.
  • How much do FRC electronic media services cost? FRCs offer competitive rates for all electronic media services. For more information on services rates, contact your local FRC director.
  • Do the FRCs offer services for classified records stored to electronic media? Several FRCs offer storage and servicing for classified records stored to electronic media in our climate-controlled, classified vaults. Please contact the Washington National Records Center for more information on these services.
  • What are the technical features of the FRC Electronic Records Vaults?
    • Construction
      The construction of the ERVs is designed to provide a highly secure and protective environment that will stand alone structurally; resist damage from fork lifts, pallet jacks, etc.; and provide thermal and moisture protection from environmental conditions. Walls are constructed of grout-filled concrete masonry and have a four-hour UL rating. This construction is supplemented with rigid insulation and drywall to provide superior heat protection for sensitive media. The roof and floor are constructed of lightweight concrete with embedded rigid insulation.
    • Fire Suppression
      The media storage area features a non-aqueous fire suppression system that, if ever discharged, will safely extinguish the fire without harming the electronic media. The system consists of a non-residue, clean-extinguishing agent stored in a pressurized
      canister and connected to disbursing nozzles via a piping distribution network. A control panel is connected to the fire alarm system and requires cross-zone detection before initiating a discharge.
    • Security System and Access Restrictions
      The ERVs provide independent control of environmental conditions, personnel access, and specialty fire-protection needs. The ERVs' security systems integrate with the facilities' central security, monitoring, and intrusion detection systems. Access control is via a proximity card reader at the entry door. The ERVs are also monitored by closed-circuit cameras that digitally record any activity within the vault.
    • Environmental Controls
      Each ERV includes an environmental conditioning system unit that is designed to maintain the ideal environmental conditions for electronic media: a temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit (± 2.5 degrees) and a relative humidity of 40 percent (± 5 percent). The system is equipped with redundant compressors and fan motors and utilizes 85percent high-efficiency particulate filters. The system's refrigeration and condensate drain piping and electrical lines are protected by fire-sealed wall sleeves. The ERVs include a vestibule that is accessed via two single-panel automatic sliding doors to provide security and an air lock within the environment. This maintains the optimal environmental conditions in the media storage compartment and an acclimatization area for incoming and outgoing media.
    • ERV slotted storage units
      The ERVs are fitted with individually slotted media storage units. These units maximize the available capacity for storing electronic media and provide for flexibility in the mix of types of media capable of being stored. Media are stored in a vertical orientation that enhances long-term media survival. The units consist of vertical drawers that slide out on overhead channels. Drawer sizes range from four to seven inches to accommodate various media.
  • Whom do I contact about accessioning my agency's permanent electronic records into the National Archives? If you have questions concerning the accessioning of scheduled permanent electronic
    records into the National Archives, your agency's records officer should contact the
    Archival Services Manager in NARA's Electronic and Special Media Records Services
    Division (NWME) at cer@nara.gov or 301-837-3420.
  • How do I ensure that my agency's records are properly preserved? The ERVs can play an important role in your agency's electronic records retention strategy by providing optimal storage conditions for the media on which the records are stored. In order to ensure that the records are readable for their full retention period, you will have to regularly migrate the records onto fresh media, regularly test the media for any signs of data loss, and ensure that the data can be read on current software.
  • What regulations govern the storage of Federal e-records? "The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 36 CFR Part 1236 Electronic Records Management, outlines the responsibilities of Federal agencies. Section 1236.28 specifies agency responsibilities regarding the selection and maintenance of electronic records storage media. Section 1236.22 articulates agency responsibilities for retention and disposition of electronic records, which includes protection and usability of Federal e-records." Agencies are also responsible for ensuring that they meet the provisions of OMB M-06-16, issued on June 23, 2006, which requires that media containing personally identifiable information (PII) be encrypted if transported and/or stored off site.