Additional Background on DOI Records Schedule

On October 26, we posted about the proposed big bucket records schedule submitted by the Department of the Interior (DOI). The post also included information on how to submit comments through the Federal Register process which all records schedules containing items proposed for temporary retention must follow.

We are accepting comments through November 26. The Federal Register comment process allows the public to communicate with us about their questions or concerns on a specific schedule of interest. The opportunity for public input is integral to the scheduling and appraisal process. Given the amount of interest in this particular records schedule, we wanted to provide additional information about the appraisal process for these records.

In summary, all DOI bureaus, with the exception of National Park Service and Office of Surface and Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, have some records in the new proposed schedule. In general, the proposed schedule simplifies disposition for end users by reducing the number of authorities; promotes consistency in records management and disposition across the Department; and improves the ability of the Department to apply automation and transition to electronic recordkeeping. There are 411 currently approved schedule items that have been incorporated into this proposed schedule. The new proposed schedule has 23 schedule items; 18 are temporary; 5 are permanent. Below is the breakdown of how previously approved schedule items were appraised.

One Hundred Forty-Five (145) items were previously approved as permanent.

  • 142 will remain permanent. This means they will be transferred when they are no longer needed for active business use within DOI. DOI will retain these records for at least 15 years before they are eligible for transfer.
  • 3 permanent items have been moved to a long-term temporary category. This change is day forward and would only apply to newly-created records after this proposed schedule is signed by the Archivist of the United States. One factor affecting the appraisal decision of these records is their ongoing activity within the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR). This means, BoR officials are actively adding to the case files over time and the case files never officially close. The records in question have been heavily referenced by BoR at the National Archives facility located in Denver where the bulk of the records are maintained. These records have long-term legal and continuing business needs for the program and thus the Bureau has requested to retain the records for internal use indefinitely following review in 25 year periods. The record series impacted by this change are: Land Acquisition Files; Sale,Transfer, Exchange, and Disposal of Reclamation-owned Land to others; and Land Classification files.

Two hundred twenty-one (221) items were previously approved as temporary.

  • 173 items have the same retention period previously approved for each individual bureau. This means the records will still be available for FOIA and other retrieval needs just as they were prior to the Department’s submission of this new proposed schedule.
  • 33 items now have an increased retention period. This is because the flexible scheduling methodology has allowed the agency to group like records together, keeping some longer than the previously approved time frames.
  • 15 items now have a slightly shorter retention period. During this consolidated approach, DOI determined that some bureaus had a slightly shorter retention period for the same type of records as other bureaus. Administrative, fiscal, and legal value of records were considered during this change. If records were no longer needed for agency accountability, retention was shortened from 25 to 20 years (as an example).

Forty-five (45) items are new records series. This means prior to the submission of DAA-0048-2015-0003, these records were unscheduled. Most of the record series that fall into this category are created by Office of Natural Resources Revenue and became unscheduled during the reorganization of the Minerals Management Service.

We hope this post has provided additional details about the scheduling and appraisal process for these DOI records.