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In the Loop - July 2008

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

ALERT: File plan template for Immediate Offices (29-JUL-2008)

A file plan template (XLS) has been developed to make saving records in the Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) more intuitive and "user friendly" for senior management officials. The template contains categories of commonly used administrative records located in the Immediate Offices of Assistant and Regional Administrators and their staffs.

The Office of Environmental Information (OEI) initiated the development of the template after receiving feedback from Deputy Assistant Administrators (DAA) and Deputy Regional Administrators (DRA) in February 11, 2008, during ECMS focus group discussions. The Office of Air and Radiation (OAR), the Office of Environmental Information (OEI), the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) and the Office of Water (OW) assisted with the development of the template.It is currently being tested in OEI's Immediate Office and can be customized to fit the administrative needs of any Immediate Office. The template facilitates saving records in ECMS by:

  • Providing easily understandable record categories (or folders);
  • Identifying examples of the types of documents that the categories contain;
  • Tying records in the categories to the appropriate records schedule and retention periods; and,
  • Identifying the records custodian (i.e., person responsible for saving the record).

OEI anticipates the template will be made available to other offices later this summer.

See the March 25, 2008 Tip of the Week for more information on user-friendly folder titles.

Tip of the Week: Unscheduled records (29-JUL-2008)

Your recordkeeping requirements include ensuring that all records in any format (e.g., electronic, paper) are matched to a records schedule. If you find that your records have no schedule that describes them or meets your retention needs, contact your Records Liaison Officer (RLO). Your RLO will work with you and the National Records Management Program (NRMP) to identify an existing schedule, revise an existing schedule, or develop a new schedule to meet the needs of your records.

EPA is currently working to identify all electronic information systems (e.g., databases) that are unscheduled. Contact your RLO or the Records Help Desk if you use or know of a system that has not been matched to a records schedule.

For more information about identifying and scheduling your records, see:

Tip of the Week: Electronic recordkeeping system for e-mail records (22-JUL-2008)

You should know that your recordkeeping responsibilities include capturing your records, in any format, into a recordkeeping system. But did you know that EPA has only one electronic system approved for capturing e-mail records? The Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) is EPA's only electronic recordkeeping system approved for e-mail records. ECMS meets the requirements for recordkeeping systems and provides complete lifecycle management by:

  • distinguishing between record and nonrecord material,
  • matching records to an applicable records schedule,
  • indicating that the record is closed,
  • identifying the final disposition (i.e., destruction or transfer) date, and
  • ensuring that records authorized for destruction are deleted according to instructions found in the applicable records schedule and are not recoverable after deletion.

Work with your Records Liaison Officer (RLO) to ensure that your e-mail records are captured into ECMS. For more information on electronic recordkeeping systems, see:

Tip of the Week: Recordkeeping systems (15-JUL-2008)

A recordkeeping system is a manual or automated system that collects, organizes, and categorizes records, facilitating their preservation, retrieval, use, and disposition. All federal agencies are required to have recordkeeping systems as detailed in regulations issued by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Your recordkeeping responsibilities include ensuring that your records, in any format, are captured into a recordkeeping system. Your office has equipment and software available to help capture, organize, and retrieve records, but a complete recordkeeping system includes much more.

There are four components to a complete recordkeeping system:

Records the information resources, in any format, that are created or received in the course of conducting Agency business and needed to document your actions or decisions on behalf of the Agency
People records liaison officers (RLOs) and records contacts that oversee a records management program; and Agency staff, who create, receive, and use records in conducting Agency business
Processes procedures or requirements on how to manage records throughout their lifecycle
Tools equipment and software used to capture, organize, store, track, and retrieve records

These four components work together to:

  • identify records and match them to a records schedule,
  • assign responsibility for the records, and
  • specify how they are maintained (e.g., classified, filed, tracked, dispositioned).

EPA currently has two approved recordkeeping systems; one is the traditional paper-based (print and file), and the other is electronic (ECMS for e-mail).

Contact your RLO for information on capturing your records into a recordkeeping system and your recordkeeping responsibilities. Also see:

Tip of the Week: Responding to FRC notices (09-JUL-2008)

The Federal Records Center (FRC) oversees the final disposition (e.g., destruction or transfer) of records stored at their facilities. Ninety days before the scheduled disposition date of your records, the FRC notifies your Records Liaison Officer (RLO) of the pending action:

With When
a National Archives (NA) 13001, Notice of Eligibility for Disposal (PDF) temporary records are eligible for destruction
a Standard Form (SF) 258, Agreement to Transfer Records to the National Archives of the United States (.pdf) permanent records are eligible for transfer to the National Archives

Responses are due to the FRC within 20 working days. If you are the custodian for the records covered by the notice, your RLO will work with you to meet this deadline by asking for either concurrence for the proposed action or justification for a delay. The dispositioning of your records can only be delayed if they are involved with pending actions (e.g., litigation, audits, FOIA requests).

See Chapter 4 of the Records Management Manual for more information on managing inactive records.

ALERT: Migration of CIPS users to ARCIS (03-JUL-2008)

The Federal Records Centers (FRCs) will begin migrating current users of their Centers Information Processing System (CIPS) to a new system, the Archives and Records Centers Information System (ARCIS), at the end of this fiscal year. ARCIS will simplify and streamline business transactions between users and the FRC. It will also offer users greater control over records by giving them the authority and flexibility to manage and customize access to records stored at the FRC.

CIPS users will automatically be migrated to ARCIS with no interruptions in service or change in access rights. Prior to roll out, the FRC will contact individual CIPS users about changes taking place in reference procedures and will make a number of resources available to ease the transition to ARCIS, including:

  • training webinars,
  • FAQs,
  • instruction manuals, and
  • a dedicated ARCIS Help Desk.

CIPS will be shut down as ARCIS is rolled out to each FRC. Roll out of ARCIS is scheduled as follows:

October 2008 Philadelphia, PA
January 2009 Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Seattle, WA
March 2009 Pittsfield, MA; Dayton, OH; Denver, CO
May 2009 WNRC Suitland, MD; San Bruno, CA; Riverside, CA
July 2009 Lenexa, KS; Lee's Summit, MO; Ft. Worth, TX; Boston, MA
October 2009 St. Louis, MO

Records Liaison Officers (RLOs) and CIPS users can get more information about migrating to ARCIS by contacting your FRC. Contact your RLO or the Records Help Desk for information about retiring your records to the FRC or accessing records already stored there.

Tip of the Week: Tracking records (01-JUL-2008)

A records tracking system monitors the movement of records within your office's recordkeeping system and ensures that records can always be found when needed. Tracking systems can be a simple chargeout card that is inserted in a drawer or on a shelf in place of a record or they can be electronic (e.g., database, barcodes).

A tracking system is only successful if it is used properly. Never retrieve a record without using the tracking system to identify:

  • information about the record (e.g., Agency file code, titles, dates),
  • the name of the person retrieving the record, and
  • the date the record was retrieved.
Contact your Records Liaison Officer (RLO) regarding procedures for retrieving records from your office's recordkeeping system. See Frequent Questions about Recordkeeping Systems and Chapter 3: Active Records of the Records Management Manual for more information about recordkeeping and tracking systems.

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