Federal Records Management

Resources - Publications: Disposition of Federal Records - Figures

2000 Web Edition (of 1997 printed publication)

Disposition of Federal Records - Chapter IV

Figure 4-5. How to Apply General Records Schedules

1. Before using the GRS:

  1. Examine organization charts and functional statements to find out which agency and office functions are administrative, or housekeeping, and which are program, or mission-related. For example, an oversight agency should regard as program records all its records related to the Government-wide management of administrative functions.

  2. Identify the record series or systems documenting the agency's administrative and program functions.

  3. Remember that GRS dispositions apply to records common to several or all agencies rather than records unique to an individual agency.

  4. Make sure the GRS version being used is the latest edition, including all changes issued by NARA.

  5. Read the GRS's overall introduction, each schedule's introduction, and all NARA issuances transmitting changes to the GRS, and note any limitations on use.

2. Use the GRS retention periods for all applicable agency records unless NARA has already approved a shorter retention period for particular agency records or unless the agency has clear grounds to request an exception by submitting an SF 115 to NARA. (In some instances NARA may announce that a revised or new GRS retention period must be applied without exception.)

3. Follow these other rules for applying the GRS to agency records:

  1. Use the GRS table of contents to find a particular category of records.

  2. Use the subject and forms indexes to match record series or systems with GRS items.

  3. Do not use a GRS item if it applies to only part of a record series or system.

  4. Do not use the GRS for program records. Instead submit an SF 115 to NARA.

  5. Do not expect the GRS to contain disposition authorities for all administrative records. Submit an SF 115 for those not scheduled by the GRS.

  6. Do not use GRS correspondence items for general correspondence (i.e., correspondence covering multiple functional areas) maintained as a single series.

  7. Follow NARA guidelines in tailoring GRS items to fit agency records.

  8. As with all records, remember to cut off, or break, records covered by the GRS before applying the disposition instructions.

  9. Refer to NARA any GRS-related questions not resolved within the agency.

4. Incorporate applicable GRS disposition authorities into the agency records schedule by using one of the following methods:

  1. Interspersing them item by item among disposition authorities approved on SF 115's.

  2. Attaching the GRS as a whole to the remainder of the agency records schedule.

5. Review and, if necessary, update the agency's records schedule at least annually and within 6 months of NARA's issuance of new or revised GRS items for which the agency has no exception.

Note: Web version may vary from the printed version.