Whatever Happened to GRS Email and Word Processing Files?

Our GRS Team continues to work on updating the General Records Schedules. However, they also will be providing updates on particular questions that they receive. Consider this your GRS Tip of the Month!

Whatever happened to GRS items for electronic mail and word processing files?

NARA enacted a new policy in 1998: all new records schedules must include two items covering “electronic mail and word processing system copies…used solely to generate a recordkeeping copy” of agency records. These items—one for “copies that have no further administrative value after the recordkeeping copy is made,” the other for “copies used for dissemination, revision, or updating” the record copy—enabled disposal of multiple iterations of the same document littering agency electronic servers. NARA applied this new policy to itself, too, and appended these items to most (but not all) GRS schedules when it published GRS Transmittal 8 later that same year.

This requirement was never very popular with either agency records schedulers or NARA appraisers. The items’ sheer repetitiveness made it obvious early on that they were ideal candidates for GRS items. NARA Bulletin 2006-04 rescinded the 1998 policy. These items were removed and replaced by GRS 20, items 13 and 14, in GRS Transmittal 22 in 2010. The GRS 20 items were in turn superseded by GRS 4.3, item 040, in GRS Transmittal 23. The GRS now covers any non-recordkeeping copy in an electronic format.