FAQs for GRS 3.1, General Technology Management Records
Download all Frequently Asked Questions of Individual GRS Schedules in a PDF
1. What are the definitions of terms used in GRS 3.1?
Information technology infrastructure (item 010) means the basic systems and services used to supply the agency and its staff with access to computers and data communications. Components include hardware such as printers, desktop and laptop computers, network and web servers, routers, hubs, and network cabling, as well as software such as operating systems and shared applications (e.g., word processing). The services necessary to design, implement, test, validate, and maintain such components are also considered part of an agency's IT infrastructure.
System development (item 011) is the development of information technology (IT) systems and software applications through their initial stages up until hand-off to production and includes planning, requirements analysis, design, verification and testing, procurement, and installation.
Special purpose computer programs and applications (item 012) are software that is developed by the agency or under its direction solely to use or maintain electronic records. (Item 012 covers such software for electronic records that are authorized for disposal in a GRS item or a NARA-approved records schedule.)
Master files (item 012) are the actual content of the electronic records series or system, or in other words the recordkeeping copy of an electronic record or system. Master files may consist of data, scanned text, PDFs, digital images, or some other form of electronic information. They may include the information content of an entire system or that of a group of related files. Related records within a single master file are not always the same format.
Configuration and change management (item 030) is a process or methodology used to develop, operate, and maintain computer software, systems, and infrastructure improvements.
Data administration (items 050 and 051) includes maintenance of data standards, corporate data models, registries, and data definitions and dictionaries.
2. Why doesn’t GRS 3.1 apply to system data or content?
GRS 3.1 excludes system data or content because it would be impossible to apply an across-the-board retention period for these records. Instead, an agency should judge the informational value of each dataset and submit a records schedule to NARA for approval.
3. Why does GRS 3.1 exclude records documenting the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and US Federal Chief Information Officers Council (CIO Council)’s Government-wide information management planning and programming?
The GRS does not include these records because only OMB and the CIO Council are responsible for Government-wide information management planning and programming; at that level, the function is not common to multiple agencies so isn’t appropriate for a GRS. Therefore, OMB schedules OMB and CIO Council records through agency-specific records schedules.
4. Why aren’t the OMB Exhibit 300 records covered explicitly by this GRS?
GRS 6.3, item 010, Information Technology program and capital investment planning records, covers OMB Exhibit 300 business cases for major investments, systems, acquisitions, or operational assets identified in the agency's capital investment portfolio and related clearance and review records. Copies of Exhibit 300 records may exist in case files scheduled in GRS 3.1, such as Infrastructure Project Records (item 010).
5. Why can’t I use this schedule for IT project contracts?
Records needed to support contracts should be in procurement files, which are scheduled under GRS 1.1, Financial Management and Reporting Records.
6. Several items have 5-year retention periods. Why can’t I just keep everything in GRS 3.1 for 5 years?
These records are not maintained for a flat 5 years. Different items have different points in time at which the retention period starts based on the business processes related to the records. For instance, item 001 starts the retention period when the agency creates the records (retain until 5 years old), but item 010 starts the retention clock ticking when an agency terminates a project (retain for 5 years after a project is terminated), and item 011 starts the retention period when the agency stops using the system (retain for 5 years after the system is superseded). Because all GRS 3.1 items have flexible retention periods, allowing agencies to retain the records for longer periods if required for business use, agencies may choose to aggregate all records covered by GRS 3.1 into one or more big buckets without NARA approval, as long as the retention period for the bucket accommodates the longest potential retention period of the records within it.
QUESTIONS RELATED TO ITEM 012
7. Why does item 012 exclude software or applications necessary to use or maintain any unscheduled master file or database or any master file or database scheduled for transfer to the National Archives?
Software and applications used with permanent records are not covered by this GRS schedule because agencies and NARA may need them to maintain and access the permanent records and they may therefore be of permanent value as well. Such software and applications need to be scheduled and appraised on a case-by-case basis.
8. Why does item 012 exclude commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) programs or applications, unless modified?
Unmodified commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) programs or applications are considered non-records.
9. Why does computer software need to be kept?
Computer software needs to be kept as long as needed to ensure access to, and use of, the electronic records in the system throughout the authorized retention period to comply with 36 CFR Sections 1236.10, 1236.12, 1236.14, and 1236.20.
QUESTION RELATED TO ITEM 030
10. Why do we need to keep system management records?
Agencies need to keep system management records for two reasons. First, the records document system changes. Second, we need them to understand electronic records agencies transfer to NARA (see item 030 Notes 2 and 3).
QUESTIONS RELATED TO ITEM 050
11. Why should I use item 050 for certain technical documentation (e.g., data dictionaries, file specifications, code books, record layouts, etc.) rather than items 011 System development records and 030 Configuration and Change Management Records?
When electronic records are scheduled as permanent in the GRS or in a NARA-approved agency schedule, the documentation that is needed to read and/or understand the records must be transferred to the National Archives to allow for continued access. Without these records NARA cannot provide access to the information; therefore the specific record types listed in item 030 have additional value beyond their use in system development and configuration management.
12. Why does Note 1 tell me not to transfer records to NARA citing the item 050 authority?
Each transfer to NARA can be linked to only one disposal authority. If system documentation necessary to preserve permanent e-records is transferred to NARA with the e-records themselves, the two record sets are less likely to be mistakenly separated from each other in the future. Naturally, the combined transfer must be under the authority (records schedule item) covering those e-records.