Federal Records Management

File 2: Records Stored in an Agency-operated Records Center

(version 2.0 issued July 27, 2012)

1. When do I use this Toolkit File?

Use the contents of this file to help you obtain the required NARA approval to store your agency's records:

  • In a new records center operated by your agency.
  • In an existing records center operated by your agency that has not received NARA approval under 36 CFR 1234.30 (formerly numbered 36 CFR 1228.240) within the past 10 years.
  • In a records center (except NARA Federal Records Centers) operated by another agency.


  • If you store or plan to store records in a NARA Federal Records Center, please see File 1 of this Toolkit.
  • If you store or plan to store records in a commercial records center or storage facility, please see File 3 of this Toolkit.
  • If you store or plan to store records in agency records staging and/or holding areas in your agency's office space and the area has a capacity for containing less than 25,000 cubic feet of records, please see File 4 of this Toolkit.

2. When do I need to obtain NARA approval to use an agency-operated records center?

  • You must obtain NARA approval before you transfer any records for the first time to an agency-operated records center. If you are currently storing records in an agency-operated records center that has not been approved by NARA within the past 10 years, you must request approval now.
  • You must obtain NARA approval before you store records for the first time in a records center (except NARA Federal Records Center) operated by another agency, even if other agencies have NARA approval to store their records in that records center.
  • You must obtain NARA approval if there is a material change in the facility (e.g., a new storage bay or new shelving equipment).
  • You do not need further NARA approval when you send additional records to an agency records center for which you have received NARA approval, unless the total quantity of records to be stored exceeds the maximum limit that NARA specified in our approval letter to you.

3. How do I request NARA approval to use an agency-operated records center?

A. General information. The Agency Records Officer must send a request to NARA identifying by name and address the specific facility(ies) and documenting compliance with 36 CFR 1234.10 – 1234.14 (formerly numbered 36 CFR 1228.228 – 1228.232). Sections 3B and 3C below provide more information on the documentation needed.

Send the documentation to:

Business Support Services/Real Property Planning Division
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road, room 1200
College Park, MD 20740-6001
or by e-mail to: scott.birckhead@nara.gov

B. Your agency's own records center. The approval request to NARA must document that the facility is in compliance with the 36 CFR 1234.10-14 standards (formerly numbered 36 CFR 1228.228-232). Contact scott.birckhead@nara.gov concerning what forms of documentation are acceptable to demonstrate compliance with each standard. We strongly recommend that you contact NARA early in the design phase of construction or lease to discuss the documentation you will need to furnish. If your agency plans to build a records center, NARA can provide design and construction guidance (at no cost).

C. Records center operated by another agency. If the records center has been previously approved by NARA for use by the operating agency, you may submit the information specified in 3B or the following documentation:

  • A copy of NARA's approval letter to the operating agency for the facility, AND
  • A statement from the operating agency that there have been no material changes in the records center facility since the NARA approval, AND
  • A description of the maximum quantity of records your agency intends to store in the facility

4. How does NARA review my request?

NARA reviews the documentation to ensure the facility demonstrates full compliance with the 36 CFR 1234 standards. One of our engineers may visit the facility to make the determination of compliance. NARA will notify you of its decision to approve or disapprove the request within 45 days after receiving the request. If we disapprove the request, we will provide information on the areas of noncompliance.

5. How long does the NARA approval of an agency records center remain effective?

Approvals are valid for 10 years, unless the facility is materially changed or an agency or NARA inspection finds that the facility does not meet the standards.

6. Who can help me if I have questions?

Contact Scott Birckhead by e-mail at scott.birckhead@nara.gov, by phone on (301) 741-5037.

7. Where can I find copies of the NARA regulations?
The regulations for obtaining NARA approval are available as follows:

  • 36 CFR 1234 is located in File 5 of this Toolkit or here.
  • Appendix A to Part 1234, which contains the Minimum Security Standards, is located in File 6 of this Toolkit or here
  • Appendix B to Part 1234, which contains requirements for a fire-safety detection and suppression system that has been certified by NARA, is located in File 7 of this Toolkit or here.

You should consult these regulations in addition to the material in this File 2.

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