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In the Loop - September 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: Bringing forward active records (30-SEP-2008)

Some records schedules direct you to close your records at the end of the fiscal or calendar year. This means that you should not add new information to the folder when you move it from the "active" phase of its lifecycle to the "inactive" phase. However, if you find that any of the records are still needed to conduct current Agency business (e.g., documents needed for the completion of a project or transaction), then you may: (1) either physically move those records into the folder for the next year or (2) make a copy of them and place them in the new folder so they are incorporated into the active records. In records management terminology, this is sometimes known as "bringing forward" active records.

See Frequent Questions about Retiring Records and Chapter 4: Inactive Records of the Records Management Manual for more information about closed records.

Tip of the Week: Maintaining usable electronic records (23-SEP-2008)

All records must be captured into an approved recordkeeping system. EPA has only two approved recordkeeping systems:

  • a manual, paper-based system or
  • the Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS).

ECMS currently is only available for e-mail records. Until ECMS becomes available for other electronic records, they must be printed and maintained in your office's paper-based recordkeeping system. However, when electronic records cannot be printed due to their size or loss of context (e.g., databases, geospatial data), they can be maintained electronically on share drives or other electronic media, but you are responsible for ensuring that they are usable throughout their lifecycle. This means that you must maintain your electronic records so that they:

  • can be read by the most current version of software available,
  • are stored on media or equipment that can be accessed, and
  • can be found when needed.

To keep your electronic records usable:

  • maintain them at appropriate temperature and humidity,
  • migrate the records onto new media (e.g., CD, tape) or versions of software (e.g., Word, Excel) as it becomes available,
  • ensure that equipment is available that can read the records,
  • test the readability of your records annually, and
  • document the location of your records in your office's file plan.

For more information on maintaining your electronic records contact your Records Liaison Officer (RLO). Also, see the:

Tip of the Week: Hurricane e-mail records (18-SEP-2008)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, it is likely that there will be an increase in both the receipt and the creation of records related to EPA's response activities. Both during and after an emergency, regardless of its cause, the Agency is under increased pressure to provide information either to other governmental entities or to private individuals.

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, EPA's Chief Information Officer issued guidance on managing records related to the hurricanes. Hurricane Ike records are to be managed in a similar manner.

In the first days following an emergency many records received and created by EPA will be in the form of e-mail. Fortunately, EPA now has the Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) for managing e-mail records. Using ECMS, you can easily organize your e-mail records by filing e-mail records in ECMS using file code 104-010-01 233a(2). Here are some examples:

arrow pointing to placeholder for organization acronym

Note: Use your organizational acronym (Org_Acronym) to make the folder title unique.

See the following correspondence and guidance on hurricane response records:

Tip of the Week: Files plans are living documents (02-SEP-2008)

File plans are living documents that continue to grow and change as your office conducts Agency business. Your Records Liaison Officer (RLO) is responsible for the on-going task of ensuring that your office's file plan is current. You can help your RLO by ensuring that all changes in your records (e.g., adding new records, changes in custodian) are captured in your file plan. Remember, working with your RLO to assign your folders user-friendly titles and document them in your file plan ensures your records can be identified and retrieved when needed.

For more information, contact your RLO. Also, see the March 25, 2008 "Tip of the Week" for information about user-friendly folder titles and the File Plan Guide for information about file plans.

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