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In the Loop - August 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: Records Web site resources - Identifying records (26-AUG-2008)

Your recordkeeping requirements include maintaining information that documents your work on behalf of the Agency. If you create and receive large volumes of information, you could be overwhelmed and crowded with unnecessary documents. The solution is to identify your records and separate them from the nonrecords and personal papers.

If you need help in understanding what a record is, you can find helpful information and tools on the Records Web site.

When you need to know see
how to identify a record,
more information about what is not a record,
if you need to document an important conversation,
which of your e-mails are records,
if your drafts and working files should be considered records,

Tip of the Week: Records Web site resources - recordkeeping responsibilites (19-AUG-2008)

All EPA officials, employees, and contractors operating on behalf of EPA, have recordkeeping responsibilities. Here is a list of resources available on the Records Web site that you can use to find more information about your recordkeeping responsibilities.

When you need to know see
what your recordkeeping responsibilities are,
about EPA's records management policy and procedures,
processes related to your recordkeeping responsibilities, the Records Management Basics handout.
a definition of a records management term, the Records Management Glossary.
answers to your records management questions online,  Frequent Questions.
someone in your office who can help you, the contact information for your Records Liaison Officer (RLO).

ALERT: Revision to NARA Records Management Regulations (19-AUG-2008)

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is proposing a comprehensive revision to the current NARA regulations on records management. The revision covers provisions currently in 36 CFR Parts 1220-1238. The intent of the revisions is to present the material in smaller, more focused parts and in plain language format to make the regulations easier to read, understand, and use.

The proposed rule is available at:

Comments may be submitted though the Federal eRulemaking portal at: http://www.regulations.gov.

Here is a brief summary of some of the significant changes:

  • Reorganizes regulations and includes statutory authorities and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 15489 at the beginning of each major section.
  • Revises conditions under which nonrecord materials may be removed by departing employees from agency custody (Part 1222).
  • Requires agencies obtain prior NARA approval to loan original permanent or unscheduled records to other Federal agencies (Part 1228).
  • Requires agencies to notify NARA in all cases where records constituting a continuing menace to human health or life or to property are identified (Part 1229).
  • Added a new section to address how NARA and agencies handle credible allegations of unlawful or accidental removal, defacing, alteration, or destruction of records (Part 1230).
  • Broadens the coverage of regulations on electronic records to include all unstructured records (Part 1236).
  • Expands and updates audiovisual records management provisions to address aerial photographic records, architectural engineering records, cartographic records and digital photographs (Part 1237).
  • Includes new criteria for NARA inspections (Part 1239).

Tip of the Week: Records management self evaluations (13-AUG-2008)

NARA regulation 36 CFR 1220.34 requires agencies to perform self evaluations of their records management programs. Your Records Liaison Officer (RLO) is responsible for performing the evaluation of your office's records management program and using the results to:

  • assess the status of your records management program,
  • identify problem areas,
  • set priorities for improvements, and
  • assist in developing your office's recordkeeping requirements.

You can improve the results of your office's evaluation by ensuring that you meet your responsibilities of:

A Records Management Assessment Tool (PDF) developed by the Document and Records Management Workgroup (DRMWG) will be formally released in 2009, but is now available for use by any organization wishing to do a self evaluation of their records program. See the Records Management Policy for more information about the records management roles and responsibilities of Agency staff.

Tip of the Week: Special media records (05-AUG-2008)

Special media records are non-paper records that have special needs for preservation (e.g., humidity and temperature controls). These records include:

When your records close and become eligible for retirement, special media records require particular care to ensure their preservation. Onsite storage areas or offsite facilities (e.g., Federal Records Centers (FRCs)) must provide the necessary environment to safeguard the format of the records. Records that require frequent updating to accommodate changes in technology (e.g., electronic records) should be kept onsite to ensure their usability and access.


ALERT: NARA Bulletin on the use of e-mail archiving applications (05-AUG-2008)

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued NARA Bulletin 2008-05 to provide guidance on the use of e-mail archiving applications for managing e-mail records. The bulletin includes information on:

  • e-mail archiving and how archiving applications work,
  • the requirements for recordkeeping systems used to manage e-mail records,
  • the benefits and issues associated with archiving applications, and
  • how to ensure proper compliance with recordkeeping requirements if using archiving applications.

See the July 22, 2008 Tip of the Week for more information on e-mail records and electronic recordkeeping systems.

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