Federal Records Management and the Public
This page provides information for researchers and the public about how the Federal government manages its records.
Federal records management ensures that records are identified, organized, can be found when needed, and are kept as long as necessary to support the needs of government and the public. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) assists Federal agencies in determining which government records should be kept and which may be destroyed, as required by the Federal Records Act and related legislation and regulations.
The first group of resources below explains how to provide input into decisions about which records will be preserved in the National Archives. These decisions are made during the records scheduling process. Retention decisions for different categories of records are documented in records schedules (also known as records control schedules) and must be approved by the Archivist of the United States before any records can be destroyed or sent to the National Archives. Once the schedules are approved, Federal agencies must follow the schedules. Public participation is vital to the records scheduling process. Public comments contribute to the final decision about how long records are retained.
- The Public’s Role in Records Schedules (YouTube video)
- NARA’s Process for Posting and Commenting on Proposed Records Schedules (YouTube video of a public webinar held on 5/30/2019)
- Subscribing to Alerts for Proposed Records Schedules
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Records Scheduling & Appraisal
NARA provides access to the records schedules it has approved though the Records Control Schedule Repository. Although the repository contains schedules that have been approved, some of those schedules have since been superseded. NARA is in the process of identifying superseded schedules in the repository, but not all are marked. Agencies maintain all of their own current approved schedules within records management directives or manuals for their employees to use.
NARA provides extensive information about Federal records management to support the work of government records and information management professionals. Members of the public can learn more about how Federal records are managed by exploring these resources as well.