December 15, 2005
ATTENTION! This page has been superseded. The information listed below is no longer accurate. For NARA's current guidance please visit http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/bulletins/2010/2010-02.html. Please note that this page is available only as a technical and historical reference.
July 31, 2008
TO: Heads of Federal agencies
SUBJECT: NARA Guidance for Implementing Section 207(e) of the E-Government Act of 2002
EXPIRATION DATE: October 1, 2009
1. What is the purpose of this bulletin? This bulletin provides Federal agencies with the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) approach to improve the management of electronic records, including web records, as directed by Section 207(e) of the E-Government Act of 2002, [44 U.S.C. 3601]. All electronic records created and received by agencies are subject to the same existing statutory and regulatory records management requirements as records in other formats and on other media.
2. What is the background for this bulletin?
a. Section 207(e) directs the Archivist of the United States to issue policies:
(A) requiring the adoption by agencies of policies and procedures to ensure that chapters 21, 25, 27, 29, and 31 of title 44, United States Code, are applied effectively and comprehensively to Government information on the Internet and to other electronic records; and
(B) imposing timetables for the implementation of the policies, procedures, and technologies by agencies.
b. Federal agencies are already required by 44 U.S.C. ch. 31 and 35, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-130, and NARA regulations in 36 CFR ch. XII, subchapter B to have effective and comprehensive records management programs for all of their records. Policies issued by NARA under these authorities apply to all electronic records, including web records.
3. What definitions are used in this bulletin?
Electronic information system means a system that contains and provides access to computerized Federal records and other information (36 CFR 1234.2). The term is not limited to systems that consist solely of or are integrated with DoD5015.2-STD-certified software.
General Records Schedules are disposal authorizations issued by the Archivist of the United States for temporary records common to several or all agencies across the Federal Government.
Mixed-life-cycle stage, as defined in OMB Circular A-11, par. 300.4, means an information system (investment) that has both development/modernization/enhancement (DME) and steady state aspects.
Permanent records means any Federal record that has been determined by NARA to have sufficient value to warrant its preservation in the National Archives of the United States. Permanent records include all records accessioned by NARA into the National Archives of the United States and later increments of the same records, and those for which the disposition is permanent on SF 115s, Request for Records Disposition Authority, approved by NARA on or after May 14, 1973. (36 CFR 1220.14)
(a) An SF 115, Request for Records Disposition Authority, that has been approved by NARA to authorize the disposition of Federal records;
(b) A General Records Schedule (GRS) issued by NARA; or
(c) A printed agency manual or directive containing the records descriptions and disposition instructions approved by NARA on one or more SF 115s or issued by NARA in the GRS. (36 CFR 1220.14)
Scheduling means the process by which an agency obtains NARA approval for the disposition of agency records when agency business need for the records ceases, i.e., destruction of temporary records and transfer to the National Archives of the United States of permanent records. 36 CFR 1228, Subpart B prescribes regulations for scheduling records.
Steady-state (operational) information system as defined in OMB Circular A-11, par. 300.4, means an asset or part of an asset that has been delivered and is performing the mission.
Temporary record means any record which has been determined by the Archivist of the United States to have insufficient value (on the basis of current standards) to warrant its preservation by the National Archives and Records Administration. This determination may take the form of:
(a) A series of records designated as disposable in an agency records disposition schedule approved by NARA (Standard Form 115, Request for Records Disposition Authority); or
(b) A series of records designated as disposable in a General Records Schedule. (36 CFR 1220.14)
4. What policies is NARA issuing?
a. NARA issues regulations governing the management of all records, including electronic records in 36 CFR Ch. XII, Subchapter B. NARA also issues policy guidance that supplements these regulations. The regulations and guidance are posted on NARA's web site at http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/ or are available from the NARA staff identified in par. 6 of this bulletin.
b. This bulletin outlines the major pieces of existing NARA policy guidance related to electronic records management and the areas in which future policy will be made. The bulletin also establishes timelines by which Federal agencies and NARA must take action regarding records management of both temporary and permanent electronic records.
5. What must agencies do to implement this bulletin?
a. Ongoing responsibilities. Agencies must continue to manage their records, including electronic records, consistent with 44 U.S.C. ch. 31, 44 U.S.C. 3506, 36 CFR Ch. XII, Subchapter B, Records Management, and OMB Circular A-130, par. 8a1(j) and (k) and 8a4. In addition, this bulletin highlights agency responsibilities under these regulations, to identify and schedule ALL their electronic records, and to transfer to NARA electronic records that have a permanent retention. For agencies that are not already compliant with these policies, NARA is also formally establishing Government-wide deadlines for such compliance, as required by section 207(e)(2)(B) of the E-Government Act of 2002. The chart in Attachment 1 of this NARA bulletin summarizes those deadlines. Major areas of existing NARA guidance and plans for future guidance are described in Attachment 2 of this bulletin. Agencies are reminded of the potential applicability of the General Records Schedules as an authority to dispose of administrative electronic records systems.
b. Existing electronic records. By September 30, 2009, agencies must have NARA-approved records schedules for all records in existing electronic information systems. For this bulletin, "existing electronic information systems" are those that are in steady-state operation or mixed life-cycle stage as of December 17, 2005, and electronic records in legacy systems that were not scheduled before decommissioning of the system. OMB Circular A-11 defines both steady state (operational) and mixed life-cycle stage.
(1) This requirement includes any system containing electronic information that meets the definition of a Federal record (see 36 CFR §1222.12 for detailed definitions). Agencies may continue to submit schedules covering series of electronic records, or may submit schedules covering specific systems. Agencies may also consider the approach in NARA Bulletin 2005-05, Guidance for flexible scheduling (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/bulletins/2005/2005-05.html).
(2) Because there may be a backlog of unscheduled systems existing within an agency, NARA suggests agencies consider using the resource allocation framework (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/resource-allocation.html) to prioritize the application of agency scheduling resources, focusing first on electronic records systems the agency believes contain records warranting permanent preservation.
c. New electronic records systems.
(1) Agencies are reminded that OMB Circular A-130, par. 8a(1)(k) requires agencies to incorporate records management and archival functions into the design, development, and implementation of information systems. Agencies are also reminded that 36 CFR 1234.10 requires them to establish procedures for addressing records management requirements, including recordkeeping requirements and disposition, before approving new electronic information systems or enhancements to existing systems.
(2) For electronic information systems that are currently in a system life cycle stage earlier than steady-state or are developed after issuance of this bulletin, agencies will work with NARA to schedule these systems in accordance with the "front-end scheduling" tactic included in NARA's Strategic Directions for Federal Records Management (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/strategic-directions.html#tactics). NARA will be issuing additional guidance to assist agencies with this requirement.
6. Whom do I contact for additional information?
a. NARA's Life Cycle Management Division provides assistance and advice to agency records officers of agencies headquartered in the Washington, DC, area and the Records Management staff in NARA's regional offices provides assistance and advice to agency records officers of agencies headquartered in the field.. Your agency's records officer may contact the NARA appraiser or records analyst with whom your agency normally works for support in carrying out this bulletin. A list of the appraisal and scheduling work group and regional contacts is posted on the NARA web site at http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/appraisal/.
b. The Records Management staff in NARA's regional offices provides assistance to agency records officers across the country. A complete list of NARA regional facilities may be found at http://www.archives.gov/locations/index.html.
c. If you need more general information about the contents of this bulletin, please contact Laurence Brewer, director of the Life Cycle Management Division at Laurence.Brewer@nara.gov or on 301-837-1539.
Archivist of the United States