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In the Loop - November 2008

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

ALERT: ARCIS training (26-NOV-2008)

NARA training is now available for the new Archives and Records Centers Information System (ARCIS) that will soon replace the Centers Information Processing System (CIPS). Records Liaison Officers (RLOs) and interested staff can visit the ARCIS Web page to register for upcoming free Webinars or view the on-line training tutorials. The Web page also offers ARCIS information such as:

  • what ARCIS can do for you,
  • when it will be available for use in your area and
  • how to contact the ARCIS Help Desk.

For more information, see the July 3, 2008 Alert on the migration of CIPS users to ARCIS.

Tip of the Week: FRC Website (18-NOV-2008)

The Federal Records Center (FRC) is EPA's preferred facility for storing records, but the FRC also offers many other services. Visit the FRC's redesigned Web site to:

Storage and non-rush retrievals of EPA records at the FRCs are covered by an existing agreement with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and are paid for by the Office of Environmental Information (OEI). If headquarters program offices, regions or other organizations wish to use special services such as rush retrievals, services for electronic records, or other custom services, those offices must establish direct agreements with the appropriate FRC.

For more information on using the FRC for your records, contact your Records Liaison Officer (RLO). Also, see: Frequent Questions about Retiring Records.

Tip of the Week: On-line dialogue (12-NOV-2008)

On-line dialogue applications (e.g., blogs, wikis, chat rooms, electronic bulletin boards) are increasingly popular ways of holding virtual meetings, sharing comments on particular topics, and collaborating on projects. If the content (e.g., comments, postings) shared in these applications meets the definition of a record, you must ensure that it is captured into an approved recordkeeping system and dispositioned according to the instructions in an applicable records schedule. To determine if the content is a record ask:

  • Does it contain unique information not already captured in a recordkeeping system?
  • Does the format (e.g., layout) give it added value?
  • Does the content affect the value of related records?
  • Does it document EPA decisions or actions?

If you can answer yes to any of those questions, the content of the on-line dialogue may be a record. Work with your Records Liaison Officer (RLO) to ensure that you follow your office's recordkeeping requirements for capturing these records. For more guidance see:

Tip of the Week: System documentation (05-NOV-2008)

System documentation is an important part of an electronic information system's records because it ensures the proper identification and interpretation of the system. System documentation includes:

  • user guides,
  • procedures,
  • record layouts for databases,
  • translations for coded data (e.g., codebooks, data dictionaries) and
  • metadata (e.g., file names, date of creation, creator, custodian).

System documentation needs to be kept for the length of time necessary to ensure the retention and usability of the electronic data it supports. EPA's records schedules provide the mandatory disposition instructions for electronic information systems and system documentation. You are responsible for matching these records to an applicable records schedule and properly dispositioning them. If you cannot find a records schedule for your records, contact your Records Liaison Officer (RLO).

For more information on electronic information systems and system documentation see:

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