Federal Records Management

FAQs for GRS 5.1, Common Office Records

Download all Frequently Asked Questions of Individual GRS Schedules in a PDF



1. What are “non-recordkeeping copies” as covered by item 020?  

Agencies designate one copy of records as the “official record,” or “recordkeeping,” copy for formal purposes. (Occasionally, multiple recordkeeping copies exist to document entirely separate business purposes.  For instance, an agency may retain vehicle accident records to document the agency’s fleet [GRS 5.4, item 140] and also its security/safety program [GRS 5.6, item 100].) Non-recordkeeping copies are any copy other than these one or two official record copies. 

Do not confuse the term “non-recordkeeping” with “non-record.”  All recordkeeping copies are records, but some non-recordkeeping copies are also records.  Non-recordkeeping copies are records if an employee uses them to make decisions or take actions, or agencies create them in the course of conducting business. For example, if your agency copies your agency email into an official recordkeeping system for long-term preservation, such as a case file or an email archiving system, the copies of your email in that system are the official recordkeeping copies. But, copies of the same messages you create or receive within your own account are still records you and others use to conduct business, so they are non-recordkeeping copies that are also records.  Agencies must retain non-recordkeeping copies that are records for the appropriate retention period in the GRS or agency-specific schedule that covers them. However, the retention periods for non-recordkeeping records are generally not as long a time as the official recordkeeping copy retention periods.  


2. Item 020 states that it includes “copies of the above electronic records maintained in websites or web servers, but EXCLUDING web pages themselves.”  What is a “web page” in this context?

The term “web page” as it is used in this item refers to the electronic file(s) that make up the page as it renders on the web, such as an HTML or XML file, style sheets, and any other associated files that may make up the web page and produce its look and feel when the page is opened on a screen.


3. Why does item 020 not cover copies that originate in hardcopy or paper format?

 The GRS doesn’t include copies that do not originate in an electronic format largely because almost all records now originate in some sort of electronic format. Additionally, it is less likely that a record originating in hardcopy (for example, handwritten notes) is copied in an electronic format elsewhere, so the original record may be the recordkeeping version because it is the only one that exists.

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