The FRC Toolkit- Your Guide to the Federal Records Center Services
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For more than 80 years, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and its predecessor agencies have provided comprehensive records management services to the Federal Government. The first Federal Records Centers (FRC) opened in 1950. Since then, the NARA Federal Records Centers system has grown into a national network of 18 regional facilities, storing and providing access to more than 29 million cubic feet of records. In 2000, the FRC system converted to a reimbursable program that has provided the Federal community with exceptional records center services on a fully fee-for-service basis.
This FRC Toolkit is intended to serve as a resource for Federal employees with records management responsibilities. It provides step-by-step instructions for transferring, retrieving, and returning records to a Federal Records Centers as well as information on records disposition and accession of records into the National Archives at the end of their retention schedule. It also provides definitions of key terms, which are highlighted throughout the document.
NARA is authorized to establish, maintain, and operate records centers for Federal agencies under 44 U.S.C. 2907 and to approve a records center that is maintained and operated by an agency under 44 U.S.C. 3103. NARA is also authorized to promulgate standards, procedures, and guidelines to Federal agencies with respect to the storage of their records in commercial records storage facilities under 44 U.S.C. 2104(a), 2904, and 3102. NARA is authorized to determine the disposition of Federal records under 44 U.S.C. 2904. (The U.S. Code is available online)
Federal Records Center Staff
NARA's Federal Records Centers staff is a dedicated team of professionals with expertise in all aspects of records management. This team includes agency-specific account managers at NARA offices in College Park, MD, and in the field as well as local Federal Records Centers directors and their staff. These staff members will work with you to identify and meet your agency's unique needs.
Your agency's invoice is now available in electronic format via PDF. Avoid mail delays-contact your account representative to receive your invoice electronically.
Account Managers serve as your agency records officer's point of contact with NARA. Account managers can also provide information on billing and special services. In addition, account managers facilitate preparation of interagency agreements for agency customers. See Account Manager (www.archives.gov/frc/acct-managers.html).
Federal Records Centers Directors and their staff members provide reference, transfer, and disposition information and answer operational questions from Federal offices within their service areas, including the availability of special services. See Directors (www.archives.gov/frc/directors.html).
FRC on the Web
Information on the FRC is available online (www.archives.gov/frc/). The website links to forms, websites of local FRCs, Federal regulations, staff contacts, and other key information.
Materials and Supplies
The FRCs require agencies to use specific types of materials for preparing records transfers. These supplies and forms are available on the GSA website (www.gsaadvantage.gov). Standard-size record boxes can be ordered directly from the GSA website. Please visit the FRC website (www.archives.gov/frc) for updates.
- Standard-size box (14¾" x 12" x9½") for legal or letter-size files NSN 8115-00- 1178249
- Please note: Boxes exceeding these dimensions will not fit on FRC shelving. If your records do
not fit into a standard box with these measurements, please call your local FRC to discuss
alternatives before choosing a different size box.
- Half-size box (14¾" x9½" x4¾") NSN 8115-00- 117-8338
- X-ray box (18" x 15" x5½") NSN 8115-00-290-3386
Other Useful Materials
You may also wish to purchase the following supplies to prepare your records for shipment to the FRC:
- Clear packing tape (does not obscure numbers)
- Black felt-tip markers
ARCIS- Archives and Records Centers Information System (http://www.archives.gov/frc/arcis) is the
primary method for submitting records transfer requests and retrieving records from the Federal Records Centers.
ARCIS allows your agency to conduct all transactions online, saving you time and reducing paperwork. The system also allows you to track your transactions electronically, giving you instant access to information about your records. ARICS helps you expedite data entry, keep track of past transactions, access information anytime, anywhere, from any computer. ARCIS does all of this in a secure, user-friendly environment.
It is a secure, web-based system that runs on all standard Internet browsers. It does not require you to install software or other executable programs that could compromise your network security.
The Federal Records Centers have developed a number of resources to help you learn about ARCIS. We offer computer-based training tutorials on three topics that you can review anytime and learn at your own pace. For agencies that have deployed the upgraded version of ARCIS (user administration, access controls, and records transfers) we offer video training videos that detail specific attributes of all facets of the system. In addition, you can also reference one of the available manuals, or contact the ARCIS Help Desk for assistance.
For more information on ARCIS training go to http://www.archives.gov/frc/training/
Training materials available online include:
ARCIS Login and Password Reset (Duration: 3 minutes)
Managing your Personal Profile (Duration: 3 minutes)
Submitting an ARCIS Reference Request (Duration: 10 minutes)
Creating an ARCIS Reference Request using the Copy Function (Duration: 4 minutes)
The ARCIS manual provides step-by-step instructions on how to log in, get around, and use ARCIS to submit reference requests.
ARCIS Basic Manual
- Download the Basic Manual (Version 1.3)
In addition, you might find it useful to take a look at the following one-page flyer:
- A one-page flyer outlining the changes to transfer numbers (formerly known as "accession numbers") in ARCIS
This section provides information on:
- organizing your records for transfer
- packing and labeling your boxes and pallets
- filling out a records transfer request
- submitting and receiving approval for a records transfer request
- shipping records to the FRC and retaining appropriate documentation
If you have questions on any step of the transfer process, please call the staff at your local FRC for guidance.
Please note that the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, has special procedures for transferring records. If you are transferring records to NPRC, please see the NPRC section of the Toolkit
Organizing Your Records
Before transferring records to the FRC, separate the records having the same disposition authority code into series. Each item or subordinate item in your records disposition schedule represents a series. Identify and separate your records into series by records schedule item number and cutoff date. Each series will be handled as a separate transfer. Each transfer must consist of at least one box and normally only one closing year date for a series of records.
A series is a block of records having the same disposition authority and same disposition date.
Transfer vs. Accession
Transferring refers to moving records into the physical custody of a NARA Federal Records Center. The transferring agency retains the legal custody of transferred records until final disposition. When permanent records are accessioned into the National Archives NARA takes legal custody of the records, and in most cases takes physical custody of the records as well. Accessioned records become the property of NARA.
Tips for Packing the Records
(See Figures 1 and 2)
- Please do not over pack the boxes. Leave a 1 - to 2 - inch space in each box to allow ease of reference.
- Do not put additional material on the bottom, side, or top of the records in the box.
- Mixed media (e.g., computer diskettes, microfilm, or videocassettes) cannot be stored in the same environment as paper records. Please do not include these media in the same transfer with paper records without prior approval from the FRC.
Local FRCs differ slightly regarding the stacking of pallets and the preferred order of boxes on pallets. Please contact the transfer office at your local FRC to confirm proper box order for your FRC (email
addresses are available on the FRC Directors' page. Pallets should be securely banded with shrink-wrap, steel, plastic, or cord strapping before shipping.
Preparing and Submitting the Standard Form 135
The records transfer request in ARCIS and the SF 135 contain important information about your transfer that enables the FRC to properly document, store and service your records. A completed records transfer request in ARCIS or an SF 135 must be submitted to your records center for approval before shipping records. A separate records transfer request or SF 135 is required for each individual record series having the same disposition authority and disposition date.
Did you know?
NARA no longer requires original signatures on the SF 135. Save time and submit your SF 135 electronically.
Completing the SF 135
- Item 1: Enter the name and address of the FRC to which you are submitting records. See the FRC Directors page for the most current address information.
- Item 2: Enter the name of the transferring agency official. To expedite and improve the transfer process for our customer agencies, FRCs will accept SF 135s without original signatures. Please note that your agency may have internal procedures that require signatures. If you are in doubt, please contact your agency's records officer (Contact Information for Federal Agency Records Officers).
- Item 3: Provide the name, office, business telephone number (including area code), and email address of the person to contact about the records.
- Item 4: Completed by the FRC.
- Item 5: Provide the complete address of the transferring office. If records come from one office, but the SF 135 should be sent to a different office, please include BOTH addresses. Specify where the approved SF 135 should be sent, and where the final SF 135 should be sent.
- Item 6: This three-part number comprises the transfer number (formerly known as accession number) and is generated by ARCIS once the transfer is created.
- Item 6(a): Enter the NARA record group number assigned to the records of the agency (or component) making the transfer.
- Item 6(b): Enter the last two digits of the current fiscal year.
- Item 6(c): Unless NARA has granted authorization to your agency to pre-assign numbers, FRC staff will assign a sequential number in this column.
- Item 6(d): For transfer and billing purposes, a standard-size box equals one cubic foot. Enter the total number of boxes included in this transfer. If the records do not fit in a standard records center box, leave this column blank, add the dimensions of the container to item 6(f), and contact the FRC staff to verify acceptance.
- Item 6(e): Enter the inclusive range of numbers (e.g., 1-30).
- Item 6(f): Describe the records in sufficient detail to allow FRC personnel to verify compliance with your records schedule. You may wish to use the series description provided in your Records Control Schedule or the General Records Schedule. A complete series description includes the series title and inclusive dates (start and end) of the records.
- Include the organizational component that created the records if the component is other than that described in item 5.
- Indicate in this section if the series of records is subject to the Privacy Act. Since SF 135s are public records, information included on SF 135s (including folder title lists) should not contain National Security Classified information or information restricted by exemption B6, the Freedom of Information Act.
- If the records are scheduled for permanent retention or are unscheduled or if disposition instructions indicate sampling records is necessary, you must include a detailed folder listing for each box in item 6(f) (if space permits) or as an attachment. If you are submitting the SF 135 electronically, you may send the listing as a separate email attachment.
- Special description requirements apply for certain records and should be stated in item 6(f):
- Stratified Report Invoicing: For agencies participating in Stratified Report Invoicing, a caret (^) followed by a valid two-digit charge code must be placed at the beginning of the series description
- Non-paper-based and special format records: These can include records such as microfilm, engineering drawings (because of their special format), electronic media, etc. Include the format type in 6(f) (see www.archives.gov/frc/codes.html for information on specific codes for non-textual record types).
- Item 6(g): Restrictions
- If your records pertain to National Security Information, you must complete this section using one of the three National Security Classification codes (C=Confidential, S=Secret or T=Top Secret). Please note that the codes Q, R, or W (listed on the back of the SF 135) should no longer be used. If you designate a National Security Classification, you MUST also indicate whether the records are designated as Code E (Restricted Data or Formerly Restricted Data). For further information, please see EO 12356 (http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/12356.html), later amended by EO 13292. Only the Washington National Records Center at Suitland can store classified records.
- If there are no special restrictions on your records, you may designate code N or leave this section blank. In this case, the default restriction (restricted to authorized agency users and researchers) will apply.
- Cite the appropriate schedule identifier and item number in your agency records schedule or the General Records Schedule (GRS). For accountable officers' records, cite the appropriate item from GRS 6. You may also use the General Records Schedules (36 CFR 1227.1-14) when dealing with records common to most offices such as contracts, travel and transportation records, and similar records. If you need further assistance, contact your agency's records officer. Also indicate in this section if the records are subject to extended retention, commonly known as a "freeze" on destruction. The "freeze code" is a three-letter designation created by FRC staff to identify the freeze pertinent to the records.
- Item 6(i): Follow the instructions on your Item 6(i): Follow the instructions on your records schedule to compute the disposition date. Because disposal is accomplished in quarterly cycles (i.e., January, April, July, and October), advance the date to the beginning of the next calendar quarter to obtain the actual date of disposal. For example, if the ending date of your records is September 2006, and the retention period is three years, then the disposal date will be October 2009. Permanent records are offered to the National Archives on an annual basis; no month is shown in the disposition date field. Place "P" after the offer year. If records are unscheduled, please indicate "U" in this section.
- Items 6, 6(k), 6(l), and 6(m) are completed by FRC personnel.
Stratified Report Invoicing refers to billing that is broken out by different functions and/or geographical locations within the same agency. If you are unsure whether your agency participates in Stratified Report Invoicing, contact your agency's records officer, or your NARA FRC Account Manager.
Submitting the SF 135
ARCIS- Archives and Records Centers Information System
(http://www.archives.gov/frc/arcis) is the primary method for submitting records transfer requests to the Federal Records Centers.
Did you know?
NARA no longer requires original signatures on the SF 135. Save time and submit your records transfer request via ARCIS or submit your SF 135 electronically.
Agencies may submit a records transfer request via ARCIS, submit an SF-135 electronically or fax/mail a hard copy to the FRC. Submitting via ARCIS or electronically reduces mail time, is more secure, and allows revisions to be made in a timely manner. You may obtain an electronic version of the SF 135 online in Word or PDF format (www.archives.gov/frc/forms/sf-135-intro.html).
Before shipping records, you must submit a records transfer request or send a completed SF 135 to your local FRC and receive approval of the form from the center. The email address for each FRC is available on the FRC Directors page (www.archives.gov/frc/directors.html).
Each individual record series being transferred requires a separate SF 135. See 36 CFR 1228.160 (e) for more details.
There is a surcharge on all non-ARCIS Portal records transfer requests.
After you submit the records transfer request or SF 135, the FRC staff will review it to ensure that it is complete and accurate. FRC staff will then assign the transfer number and will return one copy of the SF 135 to you within 10 working days, authorizing shipment of the boxes. You must include a copy of the approved SF 135 in box #1 of each transfer. If you submitted an SF 135 electronically, print out the approved copy of the SF 135 that was emailed back to you by the FRC and place it in the first box as the "shipment" copy. If the boxes or other containers are sealed and must not be opened by NARA staff, place this shipment copy in an envelope securely taped to the outside of box #1.
Always retain a copy of the detailed box content listing so that you may provide agency box numbers when requesting reference service. We also strongly recommend that you include a copy of the box content listing in box #1.
FRC staff can prepare detailed folder indexing for your transfers on a fee-for-service basis. Please see "Special Services" for more details.
After the FRC staff shelve the records, they will return a completed, signed copy of the SF 135 to you as an official receipt. Your agency staff will use the transfer number when requesting records. This receipt copy is your official record of the transfer and should be retained in your files.
Freeze--In records disposition, those temporary records that cannot be destroyed on schedule because of special circumstances, such as a court order or investigation, require a temporary extension of the approved retention period.
Unscheduled records are Federal records whose final disposition has not been approved by NARA in a records schedule.
An active record is a record necessary to conduct the current business of an office.
Transfers typically contain one series--the records all have one subject, function, or activity in common.
Mixed series are records grouped together into a transfer that does not have any relationship with each other, aside from being from the same agency or office. Mixed-series records may have different disposition authorities but must have the same disposition date.
Permanent records are records that warrant preservation by the Federal Government beyond the time they are needed for administrative, fiscal, or legal purposes because of their historical or other value. The National Archives makes the final determination on permanent records (see 44 USC 29).
Agencies are urged to arrange for the shipment of their records within 90 days after receipt of the approved records transfer request. If the transfer cannot be made within this period, please advise FRC staff. Unexplained delays of more than 90 days may result in the FRC canceling the approved transfer request.
Agencies are responsible for covering costs of shipping their records to FRCs. You may send your agency's records via the U.S. Postal Service, commercial carrier, common carrier (on pallets), or by agency courier. In addition, some FRCs will pick up agency records through NARA's Metro Courier service at very competitive rates (see the "Special Services" section). Check with your local FRC for scheduling and fees. If you are mailing a shipment of 25 boxes or more, you may send it in a postal container or by bulk mail and the boxes must be palletized. Agencies shipping their boxes on pallets using a commercial carrier should complete a Transportation Services Order (www.archives.gov/frc/forms/transportation-services-order.pdf).
For large shipments of 50 boxes or more, please call your local FRC to schedule a delivery date, and instruct commercial carriers to contact the records center 24 hours before delivery.
FRCs will make every effort to assist and advise agencies during the transfer process. However, some shipments that arrive at the center may require extensive remedial effort and increased costs. They include those that are out of order, in oversize boxes, damaged, improperly taped, improperly marked, without an approved records transfer request or an SF 135 approved for transfer, or with an SF 135 that does not match the shipment. These costs are the responsibility of the shipping agency.
The majority of transfers to FRCs are paper-based, long-term, scheduled, temporary, non-classified records. If your transfer does NOT fall into these categories, please note the following:
- Unscheduled Records
In order to transfer unscheduled records to an FRC, agencies must:
- Inform NARA's Records Appraisal and Agency Assistance (ACRA) office in writing prior to the transfer (ACRA Appraisal Archivists). This can be done by sending ACRA a copy of the SF 135 submitted for FRC approval before transferring the unscheduled records to the FRC. Be sure to include on the SF 135 the date you notified ACRA. ACRA's address is 8601 Adelphi Road, Room 2200, College Park, MD 20740.
- If the records are included on a currently pending schedule, include the pending schedule disposition number on the proposed SF 135.
- Include the official bucket or series title (if applicable) or a general descriptive title for the records in item 6(f): series description on the SF 135.
- Include a folder title list of the box contents or equivalent detailed records description; with dates (if applicable). This description can be listed under item 6(f): series description or included as an attachment.
- Indicate "U" for unscheduled records under item 6(i) disposal date on the SF 135.
- See 36 CFR 1232; and 1233, Code of Federal Regulations (Transfer of Records to Record Storage Facilities) (Transfer, Use, and Disposition of Records in a NARA Federal Records Centers) (www.archives.gov/about/regulations/regulations.html ) for more information on transferring unscheduled records.
- Active Records
Agencies may transfer active records to an FRC. Usually, these records stay on-site in the agency office. However, some active records may be suitable for off-site storage. Contact your local area FRC or Account Manager for details.
- Records with Short Retention Periods
FRCs will accept records that have less than a one-year retention period before disposition, but agencies should consider the costs of proposing such a transfer. It may be more cost-effective to simply retain the records for the short time they are still needed.
- Mixed Series
FRCs, by prior agreement with some agencies, will accept mixed-series transfers. These transfers must consist of only one box. Contact your agency's records officer (Contact Information for Federal Agency Records Officers) to determine if such an agreement exists for your agency.
- Mixed-media (Non-textual) Records
FRCs can accept for storage mixed-media records (e.g. videos, cassettes, CDs, diskettes, etc. intermingled with textual paper records.) The most common type of records containing mixed media is case files. Please contact your local FRC before transferring mixed-media records. Describe the non-paper media in item 6(f). Because mixed-media records cannot be recycled without screening, the records center will apply additional charges at the time of disposal. Transfers containing a significant amount of non-textual records will be disposed of as non-textual at the higher cost disposal rate (currently $5.50 per box for textual vs $35 per box for non-textual).
- Permanent Records
The SF 135 for permanent records must be accompanied by a detailed folder title list. Agencies may include these lists on the SF 135 (if space permits) or as an electronic or hard-copy attachment. See (Bulletin 2014-04 - National Archives and Records Administration) for more information on “Format Guidance for the Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records.”
- Permanent Microfilm Records
Permanent microfilm records may be stored at the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD, prior to their accessioning to the National Archives.
- Storage and Servicing of Classified Records
Only the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD, can accept records containing classified National Security Information. It is cleared for Confidential, Secret, Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmentalized Information, Restricted Data, and Formerly Restricted Data.
- Storage and Servicing of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)
All FRC’s can accept for storage “CUI” Basic” records. Only San Bruno, Kansas City, and the Washington National Records Center can accept “CUI Specified” records. Contact your local area FRC or Account Manager for details.
This section outlines the process for requesting, receiving, and returning your agency's records. You may access your agency's records by removing them on temporary loan, reviewing them on-site at the FRC, requesting photocopies or electronic scans of the records, or permanently withdrawing the records.
Please note that the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, has special procedures for requesting records. If you are requesting records from the NPRC, please see the Civilian Personnel Record section of this Guide.
Most reference requests are for temporary withdrawal (loan) of agency records. Temporary withdrawals are returned after agency use to the records center for refiling in the FRC.
Permanent withdrawals are removed and retained by the agency. The agency may only return permanently withdrawn whole boxes by submitting a new SF 135. These records must be submitted in new boxes with a new transfer number.
Agencies may submit reference requests using one of four methods:
- The Federal Records Centers Reference Request Optional Form 11 (OF 11)
- Electronic OF 11 (www.archives.gov/frc/forms/of-11.pdf)
- Other formats (including agency request forms)
Note: ARCIS- Archives and Records Centers Information System (http://www.archives.gov/frc/arcis) is the primary method for retrieving records from the Federal Records Centers.
For more information on using ARCIS to submit reference requests go to http://www.archives.gov/frc/records-retrieval.html
To sign up for an ARCIS account, please contact your agency Records Officer.
There is a surcharge on all non-ARCIS Portal records transfer requests.
Specific instructions for each method of requesting records are included in this chapter.
In all cases, include the following information in the reference request:
- Transfer number (formerly accession number);
- Agency box number;
- Folder name/number (if applicable);
- The type of request (temporary loan, review, permanent withdrawal, photocopies, SmartScan, etc.);
- Complete name, address, telephone number, and email address of requestor; and
- For any records requested under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Privacy Act, or due to congressional interest, note the applicable reason in the "Remark" section of the OF 11.
Please note that the FRC will bill your agency separately for each item, folder, or carton requested (as specified in your agency's agreement with NARA) regardless of the type of reference service requested.
Agencies participating in Stratified Report Invoicing (see definition) must include a caret (^) followed by a valid, legible two-character charge code encircled on the top right front of every request.
Agencies that use ARCIS may request to have their charge code included as part of their shipping address. Contact your agency's account manager for more information.
Requests Using the OF 11 Reference Request Form
FRCs can work with your agency to make reference requests easy and cost-effective. FRCs can provide copies of the necessary paperwork for reference requests on a reimbursable basis--contact your FRC Director for details.
If your agency does not use ARCIS for reference requests, you may request records by submitting the Federal Records Centers Reference Request, Optional Form 11 (OF 11).
The OF 11 is a three-part form. The records center uses the first part (white) of the OF 11 to service the request. This part remains with the file until it is returned for refiling. The requesting agency retains the second part (pink) for tracking and control purposes. The records center uses the last part (tan) as a charge out for the file/box until it is returned from the agency for refiling.
Agencies may fax requests to the designated numbers listed for each FRC. Agencies may telephone FRCs with emergency requests. Please note that these emergency requests are billed at a higher rate than regular requests.
Requests Using the Electronic OF 11
You may also email reference requests by completing the PDF version of the OF 11 (www.archives.gov/forms/pdf/of-11.pdf) and sending it to your local FRC at the designated email address listed for each center (www.archives.gov/frc/directors.html).
Requests in Other Formats (Including Agency Forms)
You may request records via letter, email, memo, or by using an appropriate form from your agency. Please check with your agency's records officer to determine if you should use an agency-specific form.
Delivery of Requested Files to Agencies
In most cases, properly submitted and complete reference requests will be ready for mailing, pickup, or delivery to the agency one business day after receipt by the FRC.
The U.S. Postal Service or commercial carriers are the standard methods of delivering requested files to agencies.
In a SmartScan request, the requested document is scanned and saved as a pdf document at the FRC, then emailed to the requestor. The requester is billed for the scanning, retrieval, and refiling service.
FRC customers have several options for delivery of urgent/special reference requests (requests requiring same-day or overnight delivery):
- Overnight delivery - agency must provide the name of the delivery courier (i.e. UPS, FedEx) and an account number in the Remarks section of the reference request.
- Delivery by an agency - include the desired pick-up time in the Remarks section of the reference request. The driver will be required to provide photo identification with agency affiliation at the pick-up time.
- FRC Metro Courier Service - select Federal Records Centers provided delivery of reference requests. Contact your FRC for more information.
You should return your agency's files to the Federal Records Center when they are no longer needed. Write the word "REFILE" on the white copy of the OF 11 or ARCIS request form that accompanied the requested file, and return it to the records center. If the OF 11 is no longer attached, provide a brief note annotating "REFILE” and attach it to the file being returned. The note must also include the same information that was contained on the original OF 11: transfer number, transfer’s FRC location number, box number, file name or file number, agency charge code.
Refiles should be returned to the records centers in their original folders or containers (boxes) unless you have made some prior arrangement with the center. Returning the records in their original folders or containers enables accurate refiling. If the folder or container is unusable for shipment, copy the transfer number, location, box number and any other information on the outside of the container onto the front of the replacement box or folder. FRCs will contact agency customers when expanded refiles are too large for their original location.
Agencies may send documents or folders that were not included in the original transfer to be interfiled into that transfer at the Federal Records Center. When submitting interfiles, the customer agency must provide the Federal Records Center with sufficient information to identify the document or folder as an interfile, and to perform the interfile. The agency must provide the transfer number, box number, and correct file designation where the interfile should be filed. This information may be transmitted informally by attaching a paper transmittal to each document or set of documents to be interfiled into a specific folder. Customer agencies must submit batches of interfiles in transfer number order and thereunder by container number. NARA Federal Records Centers will assess labor fees if it has to sort and sequence interfiles upon receipt. The FRC will contact agency customers if the new material will not fit into the original box.
Please note that the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, has special procedures for interfiles. If you have records for interfile at NPRC, please see the Interfiles section of this Guide.strong>
Relocation of Records
Occasionally, it becomes necessary to move records within Federal Records Centers. When this happens, NARA will notify agencies of the relocation. A Notice of Transfer Location Change, NA Form 13016 (www.archives.gov/frc/forms/na-13016.pdf), is mailed to the agency after the relocation.
Following a relocation, you should update your agency's file copies of SF 135s to show new location numbers for use in requesting these files in the future. For further information concerning the relocation of records, contact the FRC staff.
In addition to storing your records and making them accessible when needed, Federal Records Centers (FRC) actively manage their disposition. This section gives an overview of the processes for disposing of records at the end of their retention schedule, accessioning records into the National Archives, and updating disposal authorities.
When the disposition date of your agency's records is approaching, the FRC will send you the appropriate notice as described below.
On January 1, 2017, the review process for disposal notices (NA 13001 or equivalent) was revised. FRCP was generating disposal notices after an extensive set of ARCIS data criteria augmented by review of transfers flagged for incomplete or possibly inaccurate information. In our new process, this review takes place after the agency returns the disposal notification indicating concurrence or non-concurrence. This revision allows the FRCP to focus the critical review on records for which agencies are willing to engage in disposal activity.
Due to the processes revision, agencies may identify a slightly higher percentage of transfers proposed for disposal that should be retained. Agencies that are deployed on ARCIS v2.0 can access an image of the SF 135, which is now attached as part of the disposal process for all unclassified transfers.
After the agency returns the disposal notification indicating concurrence or non-recurrence, the FRCP will conduct a full review of the transfer documentation and perform ARCIS updates directed by the agency or identified during the review. In some cases, updated transfers will be moved to future disposal cycles.
As always, no records will be destroyed without documented concurrence from the agency.
Disposition of Temporary Records
Contingent records are records scheduled for final disposition at some unspecified future time after the occurrence of a specific event. Examples of such events include the decommissioning of a vessel, the sale of property, or the destruction of a building.
FRCs will send the Notice of Eligibility for Disposal, NA Form 13001 (www.archives.gov/frc/forms/na-13001.pdf) or an equivalent (cover letter and eligible transfer listing), to you 90 days before the scheduled destruction of your agency's records. Please contact the Transfer and Disposition staff from the FRC that sent you the notice if you have any questions.
When you return the signed disposal notice the FRC will destroy the records as scheduled. Since your agency still owns the records stored at the FRC, the center will not destroy any of your records without your agency's written approval.
Adherence to retention schedules is good records management, saves your agency money in storage costs, and conforms to Federal regulations. Therefore, the FRC strongly recommends that you review each disposal notice carefully and in a timely manner. If your agency does not concur with the disposal, you must provide a justification for non-concurrence, sign and date the form, and return it to the appropriate FRC..
Disposition of Contingent Records
Each October, FRCs mail the Agency Review for Contingent Disposal, NA Form 13000 (www.archives.gov/frc/forms/na-13000.pdf) or an equivalent (cover letter and contingent transfer listing), to agency customers. At this time you should review the status of your agency's contingent records to determine if a particular action or event (upon which the destruction of the records is contingent) has occurred. If this is the case, sign and return the form to your local FRC, indicating approval of disposal and disposal date. If the contingent records should not be destroyed, sign, date, and return the form, and indicate a new review date.
Accessioning of Permanent Records (see Definition)
When permanent records stored at the records center are scheduled for accessioning into the National Archives, you will receive a Transfer Request (TR) generated from the National Archives Electronic Records Archive (ERA) (http://www.archives.gov/era/about/).
Over time, records schedules are subject to change, and this can affect how long your records should be kept. When this happens, FRC archives specialists review and promptly update the holdings database so your records remain correctly scheduled. The most current disposal authority is reflected for each transfer.
Storage and Servicing of Active Records
For years, FRCs have accepted agencies' inactive records for storage and servicing. Recently, a number of agencies have entrusted their active records to their local FRCs as well. This service helps agencies to free up both precious office space as well as agency staff. In storing and servicing your agency's active files, the FRC serves as an off-site "back office." Contact the records center in your region for more information about the availability of these services.
FRCs now offer a comprehensive suite of temporary e-records services for federal electronic records. For more information, see Electronic Records Services (www.archives.gov//frc/electronic-records.html).
E-records storage: Select FRCs offer secure storage of electronic records saved on or copied to optical or magnetic media objects such as CDs, DVDs, and magnetic tapes. Storage can be provided in climate-controlled space within the FRCs or in specialized Electronic Records Vaults (ERVs). FRCs can securely store e-records such as temporary records saved on e- media, backup tapes, and vital e-records.
Digital imaging: The Federal Records Centers offer digital imaging services to create scanned files of your agency’s paper records. Digitizing paper records provides you with backup copies for key documents and gives instant access to frequently referenced records. We also offer microfiche/ microfilm scanning services. FRCs can undertake digitization projects of all sizes, will scan to your agency's specifications, and can provide you with scanned copies in a number of different outputs.
Storage and Servicing of Classified Records
Only the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD, can accept records containing classified National Security Information. It is cleared for Confidential, Secret, Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmentalized Information, Restricted Data, and Formerly Restricted Data. In addition, most centers can store, for an additional fee, sensitive but unclassified records in a separate vault. Contact the records center in your region for more information about the availability of these services.
24/7 Access to Records
Several FRCs can offer around-the-clock access to critical agency records. Please contact your local FRC Director for availability and details.
Fast Pack Service
As agencies face downsizing and budget cuts, their employees may not have the time or training to prepare records for transfer to the FRC. Many FRCs offer reimbursable staff time to help agencies organize, document, and pack shipments. Fast Pack service covers preparation of the records transfer request, packing of boxes, and preparation of a box list; it may also include transportation to the records center. Contact your FRC account manager for assistance.
Folder Indexing Services
FRC staff can assist your agency in completing detailed folder lists, documentation that is mandated by the Code of Federal Regulations for transfers of permanent records and unscheduled records. Such lists are also useful for future reference requests since this level of detail helps your agency's staff more easily identify the records to be recalled. Please contact your FRC account manager for more details.
Metro Courier Service
FRCs provide courier service for pickup and delivery of transfers and requested files in select metropolitan areas. Metro Courier service can be provided to your agency each business day or on an as-needed basis. This service is offered on a reimbursable basis. A number of FRCs also offer a trucking service for large transfers at rates competitive with commercial carriers. Contact your local FRC for more information.
A number of FRCs can provide same-day electronic delivery of requested files through SmartScan (30 or fewer) or Smartscan Plus (exceeding 30 pages). FRC staff members research your request, convert it to a high-quality scan, and email it to your desktop computer the same business day in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). SmartScan eliminates outbound and return shipping costs and is ideal for both small jobs and urgent requests.
FRCs offer customer holdings information via an electronic report as requested. Customers can receive holdings data in the MS Excel format. ARCIS can also sort by disposal authority, disposal code, storage location, or other options. Please contact your agency's account manager for more information about receiving a holdings report.
Federal Records Centers Records Management Consulting Services
The Federal Records Centers Program now offers records management consulting services custom-tailored to your agency's specific needs. We provide unparalleled expertise in Federal records and information management, competitive pricing, and fast and easy contracting through existing interagency agreements. We help our customers design and implement effective records and information management programs to support their business operations. We deliver tailored solutions for our customers. Please see Records Management Consulting Services for more information or contact RMConsulting@nara.gov.
NARA Records Management Training and Agency Assistance
NARA establishes policies and procedures for managing Federal records and assists Federal agencies in documenting their activities, administering records management programs and retiring records to records centers. NARA’s Office of the Chief Records Officer offers advice, guidance, direction, and assistance focused on the effective management of the Federal agency’s records through the records’ entire lifecycle, regardless of format. An important part of this role is agency assistance and records management training. In an effort to address records and record program-related questions and help with trouble areas, NARA offers guidance and support in areas of policy, schedule implementation, electronic records, program establishment, and training. Contact email@example.com for more information.
NARA provides a full range of virtual and “in person” training in Washington, DC, and through its field sites nationwide. The courses are targeted primarily for Federal employees, but are also open to Federal contractors, employees of state and local governments, tribal governments, and international organizations. Please see Records Management for more information on NARA records management training.
NPRC is one of the National Archives and Records Administration's largest operations. It is a central repository of personnel-related records, both military, and civil service. Some of these collections have procedures for transfers and reference requests that differ from the procedures at other FRCs. This section provides information on these special procedures, including forms, instructions, and points of contact for further information. For more information, please visit NPRC's web site
The forms referenced in this chapter can be obtained from the following sources:
GSA (http://w3.gsa.gov) (SF 66C, SF 66D, SF 127, SF 184);
GSA Advantage (www.gsaadvantage.gov) (SF 66); and
DTIC (www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/formsprogram.htm) (DD 877-1).
Civilian Personnel Records
The personnel and medical records of separated Federal employees are transferred to the NPRC, Civilian Personnel Records facility (1411 Boulder Boulevard, Valmeyer, IL, 62295). An SF 135 is not used for the transfer process for Civilian Personnel Records. The retirement of individual folders is based on the date of separation and should occur within 90 to 120 days after the employee separates from Federal service. The personnel and medical records should not contain any classified or national security information; see your Records Manager and Information Security Officer determine how to handle that type of material in the personnel or medical record. Civilian personnel records must be retired in Standard Form 66, Official Personnel Folder, or Standard Form 66C, Merged Records Personnel Folder, as appropriate. Civilian medical folders must be retired in the Standard Form 66D, Employee Medical Folder, or for Postal Service employees, the PSIN 067 Employee Medical Folder. All folders must have the name (last, first, middle initial), date of birth, and Social Security number on the upper right tab.
A manifest/records listing with the full agency and sub-agency name, contact name, address and telephone number should be included with the shipment. Number the boxes (example: 1 of 4, 2 of 4, etc.) of the shipment and ensure the records are sent in sturdy boxes or records center boxes.
For additional information consult the
OPM Operating Manual Guide to Personnel Recordkeeping http://www.opm.gov/feddata/recguide2011.pdf
Military Medical Treatment Records
The following types of medical treatment records are transferred to the NPRC:
- Clinical (hospital inpatient) records created for all categories of patients receiving inpatient treatment and extended ambulatory procedures (active duty military personnel, retirees, and dependents);
- Medical treatment records (outpatient) for military retirees, dependents, and others created at military health care facilities.
Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy medical treatment facilities transfer records to the Civilian Personnel Records (CPR) facility (1411 Boulder Boulevard, Valmeyer, IL, 62295). An SF 135 is not required, but the information is provided electronically in two related files. The Shipment Data File (SDF) contains a general description of the shipment and the Record Index File (RI) contains an itemized listing of all records in the shipment. These files are generated by military medical treatment facility users via the DoD's Composite Health Care System (CHCS). The records must be boxed in the same order they appear on the Records Index File. These records are added to NPRC's Medical Registry System (MRS), which serves as an electronic index to facilitate records identification and retrieval.
Authorized representatives of Federal and Department of Defense agencies may request civilian and military records from NPRC.
Official Personnel Folders (OPFs):
When requesting an OPF, submit Standard Form 127, Request for Official Personnel Folder. A separate SF 127 is required for each requested folder.
Employee Medical Folders (EMFs):
When requesting an EMF, submit Standard Form 184, Request for Employee Medical Folder.
A separate SF 184 is required for each requested folder.
To request OPFs or EMFs, specify the following information on the SF 127 or SF 184:
- Current and former name of employee;
- Name of the agency (or agencies);
- Dates of employment for which the records are desired;
- Social Security number (for United States citizens);
- Foreign National Overseas (FNO) in place of a Social Security number (for foreign nationals);
- Date of birth;
- Requesting agency information including full agency and sub-agency name, contact name, address and telephone number.
You may also submit your request via fax to 618-935-3019 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional instructions on requesting OPFs and EMFs are available online www.archives.gov/st-louis/civilian-personnel/federal-agencies.html).
Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFS)
The NPRC provides access to the Military Personnel Registry (MPR) File Index to authorized users through a web interface. The MPR is a locator index for OMPFs that have been transferred to NPRC custody and that are under automated controls. Users who have registered with NPRC and have a user ID may submit inquiries and record orders from their Government worksite. Security registration is required for all users who will be accessing the MPR Registry File Index. Remote users who wish to order Army and/or Air Force records for delivery to their worksite must obtain authorization from the Army or Air Force, and be placed on an official access list. The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard restrict review of records to NPRC premises for approved users unless otherwise authorized. To register for online access and a user ID, all authorized users must submit VA Form 9957, ACRS Time Sharing Request Form.
Military Medical Treatment Records
Original medical treatment records are returned to military hospitals and clinics upon request. NPRC must receive a DD877-1 request for medical treatment records.
- DD877-1, Request for Medical/Dental Records from NPRC, is authorized for use by U.S. military medical facilities only. It should not be distributed for personal use to former patients. The form can be ordered through supply channels. Please check to make sure that records have been transferred to NPRC before preparing the form. (For records retired during or after 2003, check MRS first.) Most inactive records are held at the military treatment facility one to five years after the end of the treatment year before being transferred to NPRC. Contact the records management officer of the related facility to find out if records have been transferred, if they are in a records holding area, or are still at the facility. Instructions for completing the form are available online.
Agencies may send Federal employee documents to NPRC's Civilian Personnel Records Center (CPR) for interfile in the OPF. The complete name of the employee, Social Security number, and date of birth is required to place these documents in the appropriate record. No classified or national security information should be sent for interfile into the records. Follow EHRI guidance for sending electronic interfiles.
Military medical treatment facilities may send records to NPRC for interfile. The patient's name and Social Security number, sponsor's name and Social Security number (if dependent), transfer number, box number, and shelf location are required to process the interfile.
For more information on any FRC services described in this toolkit, please visit us online (www.archives.gov/frc/).