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Section 5. Records Disposition

Records disposition is a critical element of records management. EPA's records disposition program enables programs and offices to dispose of records that are no longer needed in the office for current agency business. Only those active records needed for current business should be maintained in offices. EPA programs and offices should use records schedules to determine when to destroy records or transfer them to more cost effective storage in Federal records centers or storage areas. The records disposition program contributes to economical and efficient agency operations. Clearly written, up-to-date, and properly implemented comprehensive records schedules form the basis for a sound records disposition program.

Federal agencies must schedule all Federal records they create or receive. NARA issues General Records Schedules (GRS) for temporary records common to most agencies. The General Records Schedules include records relating to civilian personnel, fiscal accounting, procurement, communications, printing, and other common functions and certain nontextual records. These schedules provide disposition authority, so agencies do not have to schedule those records individually, unless a deviation from the GRS disposition standard is needed. However, the EPA has incorporated the information from many of the GRS into the EPA Records Schedules. The EPA may request authority to apply a disposition standard different from the GRS by submitting an SF 115, Request for Records Disposition Authority, along with a justification for the deviation.

Records schedules for Federal records must be approved by NARA before implementation, and once approved, they are mandatory. EPA must also request NARA approval for transferring records to any other Federal agency or donating them to an individual or non-Federal institution. Permanent electronic, audiovisual, cartographic, and architectural records should be scheduled for transfer to the National Archives as soon as possible because of their fragility and special preservation needs.

A. Records Schedule Development

checkbox Yes checkbox No 1. Are records schedules based on inventories of program records? Are the inventories updated periodically to reflect new records series or electronic information systems, changes in recordkeeping practices, or changes in programs resulting from legislative or regulatory changes? (EPA requires inventories to be conducted at least every three years.)
checkbox Yes checkbox No 2. Do program records schedules contain a clear and complete description of records series that reflects the content and arrangement of the program's files? Do schedules contain a clear and concise description of electronic recordkeeping systems that reflects the purpose, content, sources of information, and outputs?
checkbox Yes checkbox No 3. Do the disposition instructions include provisions for:
  • Cutoffs or file breaks,
  • Instructions for retiring appropriate hard copy records to Federal records centers,
  • Transfer instructions for all records proposed for permanent retention to the National Archives followed, and
  • Specific retention periods before final disposition of all records?
checkbox Yes checkbox No 4. Are the disposition instructions for electronic records followed that require the transfer to the National Archives of permanent electronic records as soon as they become inactive?
checkbox Yes checkbox No 5. Do program officials review proposed records schedules relating to their office or function?
checkbox Yes checkbox No 6. Are reviews periodically conducted to identify new records series and information systems that should be scheduled and changes in recordkeeping practices that require records schedule revision?

B. Records Schedule Implementation

checkbox Yes checkbox No 1. Do the records liaisons monitor implementation of the records schedules?
checkbox Yes checkbox No 2. Does the program or office provide copies of EPA records schedules to all staff that handle Federal records?
checkbox Yes checkbox No 3. Are records destroyed only in accordance with EPA records schedules?
checkbox Yes checkbox No 4. Do file custodians take prompt action to cut off files, destroy records whose retention periods have expired, and retire eligible records to a Federal records center (FRC) in accordance with EPA records schedule provisions?
checkbox Yes checkbox No 5. Are permanent records transferred to the National Archives as provided in the EPA records schedules?

For further information, see NARA publications "Disposition of Federal Records" and the "General Records Schedules." The National Records Management Program maintains the EPA Records Schedules. Copies can be obtained from the NRMP and they can be found on the NRMP web page.

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