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In the Loop - April 2007

Some In The Loop articles and links are pertinent to EPA staff and are available to EPA Intranet users only.

Tip of the Week: Retiring records to the FRC (24-APR-2007)

You may have noticed that instructions on retiring inactive records to the Federal Records Center (FRC) have disappeared from many of the records schedules. Here's an example from 508 - Administrative Law Judge's Case Files:

Item a(1): Record copy of routine cases

  • Disposable
  • Close inactive records upon completion or termination of case.
  • Keep 5 years after file closure, then retire to FRC. Destroy 20 years after file closure.

NRMP is removing these instructions as we revise the schedules to be "media neutral," which will allow you to keep the electronic copy as a record in the Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS).

You may continue to retire hardcopy records to the FRC when they become inactive, based on your business needs. See "Frequent Questions about Retiring Records" for more guidance.

Tip of the Week: E-mail Records (10-APR-2007)

Recipient e-mail records
A common question about e-mail records is whether the recipient needs to save a copy as a record. The short answer is "maybe." Both the sender and the recipient need to decide whether a particular e-mail message is needed to document his or her EPA activities.

For the purposes of recordkeeping, e-mail messages should be treated the same way as paper correspondence. If it provides evidence of an EPA business transaction, it needs to be kept as a record.

However, if you receive a message only for information (e.g., notification of a building closure) and do not take action related to it, your copy is not a record and you can delete it when no longer needed.

E-mail replies "with history"
A related question is whether replying to a message in Lotus Notes "with history" means that you do not need to save previous iterations as records. Saving the e-mail history or "trail" is helpful, because it shows related messages.

However, because it can be edited, it does not provide a "trustworthy" version of the entire string of messages. Previous versions of the e-mail should be saved in ECMS as records if they are needed to document your activities.

See "Frequent Questions about E-Mail and Records" for more guidance.

Tip of the Week: Transfer of permanent e-systems & RKS FAQs (03-APR-2007)

Federal regulations and EPA policy require that electronic information systems (e.g., CERCLIS, IRIS) that have permanent value are transferred to the National Archives according to the instructions in EPA's records schedules. Here's an example from 468 - Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS):

Item c: Electronic data

  • Permanent
  • Transfer data annually to the National Archives as specified in 36 CFR 1228.270 or standards applicable at the time.

RLOs and records contacts can help the Agency meets its obligations by identifying the system schedules that apply to their organization, and working with the system managers (identified in the "Custodians" section of the schedule) to ensure the systems are transferred. Preparing Electronic Records for Transfer to the National Archives provides more guidance.

We've posted new guidance on recordkeeping systems. The FAQs explain the components of a recordkeeping system, why it is important, and how to determine if your system is adequate.


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