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In the Loop - August 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: Flexiplace and records (28-AUG-2007)

Records created or received at Flexiplace locations belong to EPA, and must be managed according to the recordkeeping requirements for your office.

Ensure that you:

  • only remove records from EPA with prior approval from your manager;
  • document the removal of records (e.g., chargeout cards, tracking databases);
  • capture records generated at Flexiplace locations into an approved recordkeeping system;
  • insert changes made to duplicates into the official record;
  • destroy duplicates when no longer needed or when the record copy is eligible for destruction, according to the applicable records schedule;
  • return records that require shredding (e.g., Privacy Act) to EPA for destruction;
  • make arrangements for records to be accessed during your absence; and
  • safeguard the security and confidentiality of records containing sensitive information (e.g., Confidential Business Information).

See EPA's Flexiplace Policy (PDF) for more information.

Tip of the Week: Laboratory Samples (21-AUG-2007)

Laboratory samples used in scientific research are not considered records. However, they are important evidentiary material that the Agency is responsible for retaining until no longer needed to confirm, reconstruct, or defend the research. These samples must be retained according to the procedures for your office or laboratory.

For example, schedules 501 and 503 for Office of Research and Development (ORD) laboratories offer the following guidance:

  • tissue samples and specimens that are relatively fragile are to be retained only as long as the quality of the preparation affords evaluation
  • in some research studies involving humans, the agreement with the human subjects requires samples to be destroyed immediately after analysis and verification
  • other samples are retained for five years

Tip of the Week: Storing and scheduling electronic records (14-AUG-2007)

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently issued "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Optical Storage Media: Storing Temporary Records on CDs and DVDs." The FAQs include guidance on:

  • selecting storage media;
  • maintaining access to long-term, temporary records;
  • documenting the contents of the media;
  • storing CDs and DVDs; and
  • destroying optical media.

NARA has also issued six new brochures, which provide tips on scheduling potentially permanent electronic records in the following formats:

Tip of the Week: Choosing between similar schedules (07-AUG-2007)

Sometimes it can be difficult to choose between schedules when they have similar titles and descriptions. In those cases, you should review these other schedule fields, and ask yourself the following questions:

Program Can the schedule be used by your organization?
Applicability Can the schedule be used at your location?
Function Does the schedule describe the business process or purpose of the records?
Guidance Does the schedule include special instructions or other information that pertains to your records? Does the schedule list related schedules that you did not consider?

For example, these two schedules cover Federal Register notices:

Field 356 519 Comments
Program All Programs Administrator and Deputy Administrator Do you work in the Office of the Administrator and Deputy Administrator? If not, then consider 356, which may be used by All Programs.
Applicability Agency-wide Headquarters Do you work at Headquarters? If not, then consider 356, which may be used Agency-wide.
Function 306-115 - Rule Publication 306-115 - Rule Publication In this case, both schedules serve the same function, so you'll need to base your choice on one of the other fields.
Guidance (abridged) Notices signed and retained by the Administrator and Deputy Administrator are covered in EPA 519. Federal Register notices published by other offices are covered in EPA 356. Are you maintaining notices with original signatures of the Administrator or Deputy Administrator? If not, then consider 356.

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