Preparing Electronic Records for Transfer to the National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requires EPA to transfer all permanent records, including electronic information systems [36 CFR 1235 subpart c ], to the National Archives according to the instructions in approved records schedules. The following guidance pertains to the transfer of such systems. For a complete list, please refer to the permanent electronic systems. Find out if your office or region is responsible for transferring a copy to the National Archives.
Until recently, transferring records to NARA meant filling out a paper SF 258 form and sending it to NARA to initiate the transfer. Now, however, NARA has developed the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) system to enable the transfer of permanent records. The SF 258 has been replaced by transfer requests (TR) that can be created within ERA.
The EPA transferring official creates the transfer request for the permanent electronic information system and submits it to the agency approving official. Once the TR is approved internally, NARA reviews and approves it. Then the transfer of records can take place. The transferring official is Barbara Felton (contractor) (202-566-0170); the agency approving official is John Ellis (202-566-1643).
A successful transfer of permanent electronic records to NARA requires coordination by the records sponsor or custodian (the person who is responsible for maintaining the records) with the assistance of:
- The Records Liaison Officer (RLO),
- The information technology (IT) support staff,
- The National Records Management Program (NRMP), and
Before You Begin
There are several pieces of information you, as the records custodian, need to have prior to beginning the transfer process:
Review the records schedule which provides information on what is to be transferred and when.
Review NARA's requirements for electronic records management at 36 CFR Part 1236.
Determine if there are any special restrictions on the information; for example, confidential business information (CBI), or information subject to the Privacy Act.
- Identify your organization's technical support person to assist with the transfer.
Here are the steps to follow to make a smooth transition to ERA:
Collect the documentation you need to prepare:
- Notify NRMP Records Help Desk (202-566-1494) when data is eligible for transfer.
- Complete worksheet for ERA Transfer Request developed by NRMP for headquarters.
- The worksheet may be obtained upon request from the NRMP Records Help Desk at email@example.com.
- Additional documentation needed by NARA is the completion of NA 14097 or the equivalent.
- Contact the Records Help Desk if you have additional questions.
Call EPA's electronic records representative at NARA, Katherine A. Ferguson (firstname.lastname@example.org, 301-837-0949) to:
Establish a contact,
Describe the records to be transferred, and
Set a date for a meeting to include EPA program and technical staff and a representative from NARA to discuss the process.
Prepare records for transfer. Each transfer must include the following:
- Electronic records in the format specified by NARA (see below).
- System documentation that provides information on how the system captures, manipulates, and outputs data, e.g., data layouts, data models, and code lists.
A PDF is the preferred format for the documentation. If the system documentation is on the EPA Internet, indicate which pages to download. If the system documentation is available only in paper, make a complete copy and send to NARA with the electronic data.
Note: When the work is done by the National Computer Center (NCC), they may charge your working capital fund to perform the work.
- Email completed worksheet and NA 14097 to the transferring official (email@example.com).
- Hold electronic data until arrangements have been made with NARA for the actual transfer.
The last step...When the records are physically transferred, NARA takes legal custody of the records by approving the Legal Transfer Instrument in ERA.
NARA’s electronic format requirements: NARA has special format requirements as stated in 36 eCFR 1235 Subpart C. In addition to the formats specified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), NARA is now accepting other formats:
- Portable Document Format (PDF) files (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/pdf-records.html)
- Scanned images (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/scanned-textual.html)
- Email (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/email-attachments.html)
- Digital photographs (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/digital-photo-records.html)
- Geospatial information (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/digital-geospatial-data-records.html)
- and Web content (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/web-content-records.html).
Note that the formats required for transfer to NARA may be different than the formats currently used (e.g., NARA's PDF requirements are different than EPA's standard) and provisions must be made for eventual transfer of permanent electronic records to NARA in their accepted format. For example: Nara has specific instructions that PDFs should be made with a certain version; this may not be compatible with the version that you may be using in your office. To make sure that your format matches NARA’s requirements, please contact a NARA electronic records representative.