National Archives News

The Federal Records Act

Records are the foundation of open government, supporting the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration. Well-managed records can be used to assess the impact of programs, to improve business processes, and to share knowledge across the Government. Records protect the rights and interests of people, and hold officials accountable for their actions. Permanent records document our nation's history.

Looking for information about the Presidential Records Act? Find it on this page.


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The National Archives and Records Administration created this poster in 1987 to promote good records management practices.

The Office of the Chief Records Officer for the U.S. Government is responsible for Records Management Policy, Appraisal, Scheduling, Oversight, Reporting, and Training for federal government organizations covered under the Federal Records Act (FRA).


FRA—NARA Bulletins Issued to Agencies

Email Management

Federal agencies are required to manage their email records in accordance with the  Federal Records Act and 36 CFR Chapter XII Sub-chapter B. The issuance of NARA Bulletin 2013-2 established “the Capstone Approach” as an alternative means of managing email, while the transmittal of GRS 6.1 provides disposition authority for the approach.

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Disposal of Federal Records

Authorized Disposal of Federal Records - requires NARA notification

Section 2203 of the Presidential Records Act, as amended (PRA) states that the incumbent President must obtain the views in writing of the Archivist before disposing of any Presidential records. This authority is routinely used to dispose of the extremely large volumes of public mail that the President and Vice President receive on a daily basis. Under certain circumstances, the Archivist must inform Congress of the proposed disposal. In these cases, the President must wait at least sixty legislative days before disposing of them. After the President’s term, the Archivist has authority to dispose of Presidential records, following a public notice and comment period. See Guidance on Presidential Records.

Unauthorized Disposal of Federal Records

NARA does not conduct criminal investigations or inquiries for alleged incidents of unauthorized disposition. Agencies are responsible for investigating the allegations and reporting to NARA. In certain cases of unauthorized disposition, including the removal of records from government custody and control, the Federal Records Act authorizes referrals to the Department of Justice and the Attorney General.

The Records Management Oversight and Reporting Program handles unauthorized disposition cases. Federal agencies are required to "notify the Archivist of any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, corruption, deletion, erasure, or other destruction of records in the custody of the agency" (36 CFR Part 1230). This includes incidents from accidental deletion of electronic records to the loss of paper files or boxes during the course of shipping or relocation. NARA also receives notifications from other sources (i.e. media and citizens). NARA tracks each allegation and any communications with the agency until the issue is resolved. See Unauthorized Disposition Website—Case correspondence and summaries. To report unauthorized disposition, email

For information on individual cases, contact the NARA’s FOIA Office and file a FOIA request using the case ID. See also: previously requested records in the FOIA Electronic Reading Room.

FRA/Records Management Brochures and Pamphlets

Records Management Publications

Records Management Blog: Records Express


More on NARA's Records Management YouTube Channel

Slideshow/PowerPoint Presentations