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In the Loop - February 2008

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

Tip of the Week: Calculating disposition dates (26-FEB-2008)

Your records responsibilities include ensuring records are destroyed or transferred (dispositioned) as directed in the applicable records schedule. The records schedules make it easy to calculate the disposition date of your records by telling you when to close your records and how long to retain them before they are destroyed or transferred.

For example:

Using the information provided in schedule 005, calculate the final disposition date for a study completed in January 2001, by adding 7 years to the date the study was completed.

Close date
+ Retention
= Destruction date
1/2001 7 years 1/2008

EPA Records Schedule 005

Status: Final, 03/30/2007
Title: Special Studies


Disposition Instructions:

Item a: Record copy

  • Disposable
  • Close upon completion of study.
  • Destroy 7 years after file closure.

Tip of the Week: E-mail records (19-FEB-2008)

E-mail messages should be treated the same way you treat paper correspondence. For example, if an e-mail message documents your activities at EPA or provides evidence of an EPA business transaction, it must be captured in your organization's recordkeeping system.

E-mail records can now be saved electronically in the ECMS e-mail records application. If you are not saving e-mail records in ECMS, you must continue to print and file them in your organization's paper recordkeeping system. Remember, Lotus Notes is not a recordkeeping system.

See Records Management Basics (PDF) for more information on identifying records and Frequent Questions about E-mail and Records for more information on e-mail records.

ALERT: NARA Bulletin 2008-02 (15-FEB-2008)

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has issued Bulletin 2008-02 reminding federal agencies that official records must remain in the custody of the agency.

The bulletin outlines:

  • Under what circumstances officials may remove records and documentary materials from government custody;
  • What materials are federal records or do not qualify as records;
  • That materials must be maintained in agency files or electronic recordkeeping systems;
  • What to do with records when they are no longer needed;
  • What to do if there is an unauthorized removal of records.

ALERT: NARA survey of federal agency records management applications (15-FEB-2008)

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has issued a Survey of Federal Agency Records Management Applications (PDF), which was completed in 2007.

NARA surveyed five federal agencies about their experiences implementing records management application software products to manage their electronic records. The report summarizes the survey responses, including successes or mixed-successes of the software products against agency expectations. In addition to NARA's own experience, they surveyed the following agencies:

  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Navy, Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • U.S. Department of Energy, Bonneville Power Administration
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office

Tip of the Week: Difference between retiring and transferring records (12-FEB-2008)

Once records are closed, you have the option of storing them at an offsite storage facility (e.g., Federal Records Center (FRC)).

The terms "retiring" and "transferring" are sometimes used interchangeably to describe moving records into offsite storage, but those terms actually refer to two different activities. Understanding the difference between "retiring" and "transferring" records ensures that you properly disposition your records.

Retiring Records Transferring Records

Records are retired to offsite storage when they are no longer needed to conduct current Agency business (i.e., become inactive).

Permanent records are transferred to the National Archives according to the disposition instructions in the records schedules.

EPA retains custody and ownership of retired records.

EPA transfers custody and ownership to the National Archives.

Records can be recalled at any time for reference purposes.

Records can only be viewed at the National Archives.

If retiring records to the FRC, you must submit Standard Form (SF) 135.

When transferring records to the National Archives, you must submit Standard Form (SF) 258. You may need to submit additional documentation depending on the format of the records being transferred.

Contact the Records Help Desk for more information regarding retiring and transferring records.

Tip of the Week: Organizing records (05-FEB-2008)

For easy access and maintenance, records should be organized according to the current Agency-wide file structure (PDF). Organize your records by:

  • Identifying the Agency file codes (AFCs) that apply to your records.
  • Labeling your records folders with the appropriate AFCs and other identifying information.
  • Arranging your records folders in numeric order according to AFC.

When arranging your records folders, use the AFCs as your main category. Then, organize your sub-categories or sub-folders. For example:

  • 301-093 006a - Program Management - Oversight
    • 1.0 Acquisitions
    • 2.0 Security Program
      • 2.1 Risk Assessment
      • 2.2 Plans and certifications

If your records are still arranged using obsolete AFCs, see the Obsolete Agency File Code Cross-Index (PDF) for help in converting to the current AFCs.

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