Federal Records Management

FAQs for GRS 6.6, Rulemaking Records

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


1.  Why do you exclude rulemaking docket records from this schedule? 

The GRS does not cover dockets because we can neither state a universal value for all dockets, nor create universally applicable criteria for identifying permanent and temporary dockets across all agencies.  Some rules deal with minor issues and once they are in place, it may not be necessary to remember with great detail the whole story of how they were crafted. Other rules leave huge footprints in the story of the nation, its Government, and its landscape (literally and figuratively).  



2.  The exclusion to item 010 sounds like records might or might not be disposable under this item.  Please explain.

A rulemaking docket might include any of the records listed in item 010. Some docket contents are typical, but agencies have a great deal of discretion as to what they place in such dockets, particularly if the docket and records are paper-based. However, the GRS does not cover rulemaking dockets (see Q1 above), so agencies must schedule these dockets under agency-specific schedules.   Therefore, when one of the listed records becomes part of a docket, it is not covered by the GRS or this item; it is instead covered by the agency-specific schedule covering the docket. If one of the listed records is not included in a rulemaking docket, however, item 010 provides authority to dispose of it as background material the agency does not include in a docket--usually much sooner than the docket itself.


3.  Can my agency retroactively remove records from a docket if this or any other item in GRS 6.6 covers them?

Yes.  Even if your agency has scheduled its dockets as permanent records, you can remove any material covered by an item in GRS 6.6 prior to transferring the dockets to NARA.  The exclusion to item 010 exists so that you are not required to sift dockets for material covered by items in GRS 6.6, but you are welcome to do so if you choose.



4.  These look like very important records.  Why is the retention period so short?  

These are extra copies of records that have been published in the Federal Register (FR).  The published FR is scheduled as permanent by N1-64-87-1, items 1506-1 and 1506-2.  One-year retention periods for GRS 6.6, item 020, covers the need to document what an agency intended to publish (in the unlikely event that what actually appears in the FR is not identical), or needs temporarily for ease of reference, to track publication frequency, or other business purpose.  Since an agency—and researchers—can always obtain the exact text of the documents from the FR itself, the agency copy has no historical or research value.  A flexible retention period for these records allows agencies to retain them as long as a business need exists.



5.  Why does this item retain public comments for such a short period of time?  

Public comments are the heart of the public’s ability to participate in the rulemaking process.  High-profile rulemakings may include public hearings but most are simply published in an FR notice with a deadline by which people must submit written comments.  Public comments can be important documentation of a rule’s final development and many agencies include them in the docket.  But sometimes comments are voluminous: into the hundreds of thousands, and on occasion millions. They may also be duplicative.  If public-interest groups encourage people to comment on a proposed rule and offer pre-packaged response text, the agency may receive thousands of identical comments whose only difference is the person who signed—but did not actually write—them.  Although agencies consider all the comments and the number they receive expressing the same concerns, some do not necessarily retain any or all of the comments, especially duplicative ones, instead accounting for the comments in other ways (such as keeping one example or summarizing them). This item reflects the reality that some agencies include in the final docket only a summary of comments and gives them the option to destroy some or all of the original comments as background material.



6.  Why do you exclude records received by General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of the Federal Register from this item? 

The records concern the mission of those three agencies.  As with all mission records, they must be appraised and scheduled for their business and historical value by the agencies themselves.


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