H.R. 1233 Signed by President Obama

On November 26, 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1233, The Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014. This law modernizes records management by focusing more directly on electronic records and complements our efforts to implement the President’s 2011 Memorandum on Managing Government Records. The law also represents the first significant changes to the Federal Records Act of 1950. The major points of this legislation are as follows:

  • Strengthening the Federal Records Act by expanding the definition of Federal records to clearly include electronic records.
  • Confirming that Federal electronic records will be transferred to the National Archives in electronic form.
  • Granting the Archivist of the United States final determination as to what constitutes a Federal record.
  • Authorizing the early transfer of permanent electronic Federal and Presidential records to the National Archives, while legal custody remains with the agency or the President.
  • Clarifying the responsibilities of Federal government officials when using non-government email systems.

Passage and enactment of this law marks a significant moment in the history of Federal Records Management. We are in the process of reviewing our existing regulations in light of these new provisions and will have much more to say about changes to our regulations and policies in the future.

For additional information, please see the press release that was issued yesterday. Stay tuned to the blog for further updates. Do not hesitate to leave a comment if you have a question and we will do our best to respond.

Posted in General, Presidential Memorandum | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Upcoming ERA Boot Camp

We will host an Electronic Records Archives (ERA) Boot Camp January 14, 2015 at Archives 1. The ERA Boot Camp will consist of a morning and an afternoon session:

  • In the morning session, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, participants will learn how to complete ERA records scheduling tasks.
  • In the afternoon session, 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM, participants will learn how to use ERA for permanent records transfer tasks.

The ERA Boot Camp will be presented by NARA staff experienced in the use of ERA for scheduling and transfer tasks. NARA staff will be available after the training sessions to answer agency-specific questions.

The ERA Boot Camp will be held at Archives I, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The ERA Boot Camp is offered to federal agencies at no charge. Participants must complete the ERA online training and have an active ERA user account before enrolling in the boot camp. Agencies may enroll in either session or both through NARA’s Learning Management System (LMS).

Additional questions may be sent to ERAtraining@nara.gov.

Posted in ERA | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Release of 2013 RMSA

We are pleased to announce that the 2013 Records Management-Self Assessment (RMSA) report is now available here.  Chief Records Officer for the U.S. Government Paul Wester said, “This is our fifth RMSA and we are very pleased to see real progress being made by agencies. We expect this improvement to continue, especially as agencies continue to work towards achieving the goals in the Managing Government Records Directive.”

Positive trends from this year’s report include:

  • This year, 52% of agencies made improvements to their records management programs and increased their RMSA score. This is the first time the number of agencies in low risk exceeds the number in the high risk.
  • Agency records management staff have increased the frequency of routine RM evaluations, inspections, and audits.
  • Many agency records management staff are participating in the design and development of electronic systems and are working collaboratively with other units on issues related to electronic records.
  • RMSA findings and recommendations are consistent with the goals and requirements of the Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M-12-18). We believe that improvement will continue as the requirements of the Directive are implemented and as NARA’s records management oversight activities continue.

We use the RMSA to determine whether Federal agencies are compliant with statutory and regulatory records management requirements, identify positive and negative trends, and areas where further guidance may be necessary. Federal agencies use the RMSA to identify strong and weak areas of their records management programs and the impact of changes they have made since the previous assessment. As a whole, the data can be used to improve records management practices within the Federal Government.

If you have any questions regarding the RMSA please feel free to leave a comment here or send an email to Casey Coleman, the RMSA project lead, at casey.coleman@nara.gov.

Posted in General | Tagged ,

RMSA 2014 is Here!

RMSA 2014 is here!

Yesterday we opened the Record Management Self-Assessment (RMSA) reporting period, which runs from October 15 to December 15, 2014.

If you are an Agency Record Officer or are responsible for responding to the 2014 RMSA, you should have received an email containing the link to access the questionnaire. Please remember that for security reasons, this link cannot be forwarded to other individuals, so it is imperative that we have the correct point-of-contact information for your agency. If you did not receive this link and think you should have or if you received the link and are no longer responsible for completing the RMSA, email rmselfassessment@nara.govimmediately!

You will have until 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, December 15, 2014, to complete the self-assessment. We will be unable to accept submissions via the online system after this date.

Here are a few things to help you get started:

  • MS Word and fill-able PDF versions of the 2014 RMSA that can be used while gathering information and compiling the official response. Please do not return either of these forms to us. Your agency’s official response must be entered into the survey tool using the link described above.
  • We are using a new survey tool this year. This tip sheet will help you navigate.
  • If your agency has identified unscheduled records that were not included on the inventory sent in 2013, you should complete this spreadsheet and send it to rmselfassessment@nara.gov.

If you have any questions regarding the RMSA, please contact Casey.Coleman@nara.gov or rmselfassessment@nara.gov.

Posted in General | Tagged

Customer Satisfaction Survey

We hear you!

Every two years, we survey our Federal agency customers to get feedback on satisfaction with core areas of NARA’s records management program. This year, the focus of the survey was on appraisal and scheduling services and records management training. The good news is that the overall satisfaction rate of 89% represents the highest score ever for the survey, which began back in 2004.

We want to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey and especially those who submitted detailed comments that we can use to make improvements to the services we provide the Federal RM community.

You can download the full 2014 Survey Report as a .pdf here.

Posted in General | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Annual RM Reporting Period

The annual records management reporting period will soon be open. This year’s reporting period will be from October 15, 2014 to December 15, 2014. Agencies will be receiving additional communications with full details and instructions from our office.

This year, we will ask agencies to report on the following:

1. Senior Agency Official (SAO) annual report: This report measures progress towards the goals or requirements in the Managing Government Records Directive. Agencies will receive instructions and the template for the report prior to the beginning of the reporting period. SAOs are listed here. If agencies need to designate an SAO or make changes to this list, they may send a notification to rm.communications@nara.gov. We will prepare a comprehensive report later in FY 2015 to summarize results.

2. Records Management Self Assessment (RMSA): The survey tool information for the RMSA will be sent to Agency Records Officers prior to the beginning of the reporting period. We will send agencies an individualized report of their results after we analyze the data. We will also prepare and publish a comprehensive report later in FY 2015. Questions about the RMSA may be sent to rmselfassessment@nara.gov.

Posted in Presidential Memorandum | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Release of NARA Bulletin 2014-05: Guidance on NARA-Created Transfer Requests

We have issued NARA Bulletin 2014-05, NARA-Created Transfer Records to agencies this afternoon.

This Bulletin establishes a time period for agencies to take action on NARA-created Transfer Requests (TR) in the Electronic Records Archives (ERA). NARA typically creates TRs for permanent records located in Federal Records Centers and are eligible for legal transfer as a convenience for agencies. These TRs then have to be proposed by the agencies for action. 

Under this Bulletin, all NARA-created TRs will expire 15 months after creation in ERA if the agency has not taken action. Additionally, all NARA-created Standard Forms 258, Agreement to Transfer Records to the National Archives of the United States (SFs 258), which have not yet been submitted to NARA will expire two months after the issuance of this Bulletin. The purpose for establishing an expiration date for NARA-created ERA TR is to ensure that they contain the most current information about the records.

Posted in ERA | Tagged , ,

Virtual Training in FY2015

Records Management Virtual Classroom Training FY15 Schedule

The National Archives and Records Administration will be offering Basic Records Operations and Vital Business Operations Online Classes in FY 2015. These online courses were designed to reach a geographically dispersed audience.

Basic Records Operations

This synchronous online course describes what to file, how to file it, and how to remove files no longer needed for current business. It covers the variety of activities involved in the maintenance and use, as well as the disposition, of Federal records. It presents practical applications in handling records of various types.

$125 – Four 90-Minute Sessions. Participants must complete all four sessions to receive a Certificate of Completion.

Dates                                     Time

October 8, 15, 22, 29              10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Eastern

January 7, 14, 21, 28               10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Eastern

March 9, 16, 23, 30                 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern

April 8, 15, 22, 29                   10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Eastern

June 9, 16, 23, 30                    2:00 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Eastern

September 9, 16, 23, 30          10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Eastern


Vital Business Information

This synchronous online course provides the knowledge and skills required to identify, protect, and make readily available the vital records needed to support the resumption of critical business functions after a disaster, and to establish and administer a vital records program. The course is based on the vital record requirements contained in FEMA’s Federal Continuity Directives (FCD) 1 and 2 and 36 CFR Part 1223.

$125 – Four 90-Minute Sessions. Participants must complete all four sessions to receive a Certificate of Completion.

Dates                                       Time

February 4, 11, 18, 25             10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Eastern

August 10, 17, 24, 31             2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern



NARA’s records management online courses have a limited number of lines available. Register online at https://nara.learn.com. Also visit our YouTube channel  for useful records management videos.


What people are saying……….

“Very informative and gave me more ideas to apply to the RM program. I have a better understanding and can figure many things out on my own.”

“This made record management much clearer and I have a better understanding of the responsibilities involved.”

“This course really helped me get some clarification on what is a vital record and what is not and the tools to begin to implement a plan for our office.”

Posted in Upcoming | Tagged , | 3 Comments

A3.1 Report Released

You may recall that earlier this year, we issued a draft of the Automated Records Management Report and Plan. This document has now been finalized and is available here.

The report addresses categories of suitable approaches for automating electronic records management and discusses their outcomes, benefits, and risks.  It covers the goals of electronic records automation, what work we have accomplished to date, our stance on DOD 5015.2, and a framework of 5 suitable approaches to automation that the Federal government can pursue.

The plan, on the other hand, will remain a living document.  It will be revised at least once a year as we complete initial tasks and assess the feasibility of the initiatives we will start exploring in the first year. We are in the process of launching a website where we centralize the information about all of our activity related to this project.

Posted in Presidential Memorandum | Tagged | 1 Comment

Flexible Disposition Instructions in the GRS

We have received a number of comments from agencies about the new flexible disposition instructions in the GRS and want to provide some additional explanation as to why we have taken this approach and how agencies can use and benefit from these instructions.

Purpose of Flexible GRS Instructions

The GRS is not like agency schedules. It has to apply to all agencies throughout the federal government and not all agencies have the exact same retention needs for records. We have approached the GRS instructions as guidelines for agencies in retaining their records: we establish basic retention requirements, usually minimum retentions, but otherwise leave it to the agency to determine their business needs for the record. In other words, NARA sees no need to review disposition instructions for records covered by the GRS as long as they meet basic retention requirements.

The benefits of this approach are:

  • GRS disposition instructions make it clear what the basic retention requirements are and when they can be longer or shorter.
  • Agencies don’t have to request deviations to the GRS as long as their retention falls within the parameters of the GRS instruction.
  • The new instructions make clear which items can be bucketed to the longest common retention.
  • We can potentially cover more temporary items in the GRS, even if agencies have different retention needs.
  • Agencies may find that all they have to do to implement the new GRS is update disposition authorities.

How to Implement Flexible Instructions

Implementation is going to take some work, but then updating agency schedules to match the new GRS is going to take some work anyway. Agencies should update their schedules to reflect new GRS items and in doing so determine what the appropriate retention is for your agency. You may:

  • Use only the minimum retention: do not use “Longer retention is authorized for business use” in disposition manuals.
  • Set a specific retention or retention band within the parameters established by the GRS.
    • For example, if the GRS says “Destroy when 3 years old; longer retention is authorized for business use,” then the agency may say “Destroy when 5 years old.”
  • Use disposition instruction exactly as written, leaving specific retentions up to offices or individual users.

In some cases you may not have to do anything other than update the GRS disposition authority. The flexible instructions should benefit agencies that have or are implementing bucket schedules. For example, an agency that has scheduled procurement records in a 7 year bucket can cite new GRS 1.1, item 010, because it sets a minimum retention of 6 years, but allows for longer retention. It will also benefit agencies that have their own items for records that are new to the GRS. As long as the agency retention falls into the parameters of the GRS you can site the GRS instead of informing NARA that you will be using your own authority.

We understand that the flexible disposition instructions may still cause some confusion. We will be conducting a customer satisfaction survey in 2015 to get some feedback from agencies on how implementation of new GRS, including the flexible schedules, is going. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact GRS_Team@nara.gov. We are happy to be of assistance.

Posted in GRS | Tagged , | 2 Comments