Records Managers

Records Controls Schedules (RCS) Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What schedules are in the Records Control Schedule (RCS) Repository?
[Ans] The repository contains schedules approved by the Archivist of the United States since May 13, 1973.  Federal agencies submit Requests for Disposition Authority via the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) electronic system, or in hard copy using Standard Forms 115 (SF 115) - Requests for Disposition Authority.  A few gaps may exist. The Scanning Team is identifying gaps and scanning remaining schedules.

Occasionally, a schedule withdrawn by either NARA or the submitting Federal agency appear in the repository.  Withdrawn schedules were not approved and cannot be used to disposition records.

Q2: How can I create a spreadsheet of all schedules for a record group?
[Ans] After you retrieve the record group, click on the button “Export to Excel”.

Q3: If I cannot find a schedule when I search a record group, what are the next steps?
[Ans] Check that the schedule number format is correct. See Key for SF 115 and Records Schedule Numbering for the correct formats.

If the schedule number is correct and you cannot find a schedule after searching a record group, contact the Scanning Team at LSSP_Team@nara.gov and provide the following:

  • schedule number
  • topic(s) (i.e. inspections)
  • any document which refers to the schedule (i.e. copy of a page from an agency manual which cites the schedule number).

The Scanning Team will research the question and reply to you.

Q4: Where can I see newly approved records schedules?
[Ans] See the list at Recently Approved Schedules.

Q5: Can I sort the schedules by job numbers so the recent schedules appear at the top of the list in the search?
[Ans] The you click on the Number/Filename column it sorts alphabetically and then numerically. More recent schedules will appear at the top of the list if the schedule number begins with DAA.

Q6: Are the hard copy (SFs 115) and electronic submissions (via ERA) different from one another? 

[Ans] Yes, in look and feel only. Informational fields on schedule submitted via ERA generally duplicate fields on a SF 115. See the diagram Crosswalk Comparing SF 115 and Records Schedule. Both are requests for disposition authority, and when approved by the Archivist of the United States, are legal authorities that are used by Federal agencies to apply disposition to records.

Q7: What do the identifying numbers for records schedules mean?
[Ans] NARA assigns a unique job number to each submitted schedule. The number enables NARA to track every submitted schedule. The format of the job number has changed through the years. See Key for SF 115 and Records Schedule Numbering.

Q8: Are all records schedules in the Records Control Schedule Repository still in effect?
[Ans] Many records schedules are no longer in effect because they have been superseded by an updated or more recent schedule. Information about which schedules are active and valid, and which ones have been superseded is not currently available on the website. Unfortunately, a records schedule does not always indicate when it supersedes an earlier schedule.  Beginning in FY 2017 schedules submitted in FY 2000 and later are being updated as inactive on a day-forward basis as individual items are superseded by newer records schedules.

Q9: How do I know if a schedule item is active and valid?
[Ans] The records schedule at the time of approval shows which older item was superseded. Many, but not all, SFs 115 list superseded items in column nine (9). On a records Schedule submitted via ERA (DAA number), a superseded item appears immediately before the disposition instructions of the new item. If in doubt, contact the Agency Records Officer. Beginning in FY 2017 schedules submitted in FY 2000 and later are being updated as inactive on a day-forward basis as individual items are superseded by newer records schedules.

Q10: What is the approval date of a schedule?
[Ans] The date of approval is the date of signature by the Archivist of the United States.

Q11: What does a "Withdrawn" stamp on a schedule mean?
[Ans] If the "Withdrawn" stamp appears in the upper right corner of the first page of the SF 115, the schedule was withdrawn by either NARA or the submitting agency any time prior to approval by the Archivist of the United States. These schedules are not approved, lack a signature from the Archivist of the United States, and Federal agencies cannot use items on them for disposition.

Q12: What is a withdrawn item on an approved SF 115?
[Ans] NARA withdraws (cancels) an item when the agency and NARA need additional time to discuss the description of the item or the proposed disposition. NARA has not approved withdrawn items and agencies cannot use withdrawn items for disposition.

On records schedule submitted via ERA each item has a field called Item status.   Items with a withdrawn status are not approved, and Federal agencies cannot use items on them for disposition.

Q13: What does an “Inactive” stamp or status on a schedule mean?
[Ans] Beginning in FY 2017 schedules submitted in FY 2000 and later are being updated as inactive on a day-forward basis as individual items are superseded by newer records schedules. This is an ongoing process and not all schedules have been updated with an inactive status.  If in doubt, contact the Agency Records Officer.

Items with an inactive status have been superseded by a later authority, and Federal agencies cannot use items on them for disposition.  On the SF 115 the item will be lined out and a reference to the authority is provided.  On schedules submitted via ERA the field “item status” will be inactive, and the “inactive status explanation” field provides a reference to the new authority. If all the individual items on a schedule are marked as superseded by a later schedule or obsolete, then the entire schedule will be marked as inactiven.

Q14: What are lined-through items on a SF 115?
[Ans] NARA personnel lined through items on a SF 115 during the appraisal process when

  • the records were covered by an existing General Records Schedule item, or
  • the records were previously approved on an earlier records schedule and there are no changes to their disposition on the new schedule, or
  • the items were withdrawn.

Lined-through schedule items are not approved and Federal agencies cannot use them for disposition.

Q15: Does NARA remove lined-through items and other markings on SFs 115?
[Ans] No, NARA does not remove lined-through items or other markings and annotations. NARA personnel lined-through and/or marked SFs 115 according to NARA policy and procedure at the time. Because records schedules are a permanent record for NARA, all line-throughs and other markings remain on the schedule.

Q16: Will Records Schedules created in ERA have lined out items?
[Ans] No. Unlike SFs 115, items that were historically lined-out are deleted prior to approval.

Q17: What is the purpose of the handwritten notations on a SF 115?
[Ans] Prior to signature by the Archivist of the United States, NARA personnel

  • line through items which will not be approved, or
  • write revisions with approval of the agency, or
  • note other actions.

In addition, after the Archivist of the United State signed a SF 115, NARA personnel noted changes (with the concurrence of the agency) that did not need the Archivist's approval, such as revised transfer instructions. See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Changes to Previously Approved Schedule Items for additional information.

Q18: Why are parts of some schedules redacted (blacked out) or removed?
[Ans] Some schedules of intelligence agencies and their predecessors may contain classified information or information withheld under a specified statute in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), such as information about the organization and function of the agency and the names and identifiers of most if its employees. These are the current (b)(3) statutes generally used:

  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA): 50 U.S.C. § 403(g); Section 6 of the CIA Act of 1949;
  • Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA): 10 U.S.C. § 424;
  • National Reconnaissance Office: same as DIA;
  • National Geospatial - Intelligence Agency: same as DIA;
  • National Security Agency: 50 U.S.C. § 402; National Security Act of 1959.

 

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