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 NARA Bulletin 2006-04 rescinded the 1998 policy.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 The GRS 20 items were in turn superseded by GRS 4.3, item 040, in GRS Transmittal 23.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.


Posted in GRS | Tagged

Records Management Maturity Model

Another item in the OMB/NARA Managing Government Records Directive that we have been working on is item B4. This item called on us to identify a government-wide analytical to help agencies evaluate the effectiveness of their records programs.

We have been working with the Federal Records Council on this project and are now pleased to announce that the Records Management Maturity Model (.xls spreadsheet) and separate user guide (.pdf) are now available on the directive website.

Using an analytical tool such as a maturity model can be a good way to assess your records and information management programs to determine where improvements are needed most. Maturity models provide a framework based on a set of core principles and standards to measure strengths and weaknesses and identify challenges that may undermine effectiveness. It provides a data supported method for planning and assigning resources. There are many good records and information management based models available (both public and private) to choose from. We encourage you to consider these types of tools when assessing your records management program. Feel free to adjust our maturity model to best fit the needs of your program.

Special thanks to the Department of Homeland Security (whose existing RM3i model was used as the starting point for this tool) for their support on this project. Additionally, many thanks to the records officers at the Departments of Justice, Transportation, Interior, and the Securities and Exchange Commission for their contributions to this project. We have also made the maturity model available on the Federal Records Officer Network (FRON).

We are always interested in hearing about new tools and best practices to help agencies.  Also, if you have any questions please leave a comment below or send them to prmd@nara.gov.

Posted in Presidential Memorandum | Tagged

Case for Records Management Course Offering

In response to agency requests, we will host a second offering of The Case for Records Management: Issues for Federal Agency Counsel at Archives I in Washington, DC on Monday, May 11, 2015.

Why attend?

Legal professionals know when business-critical information is missing or inaccessible, an agency risks fines, damage to its reputation, failure to perform its mission and expensive litigation. This half-day briefing by NARA legal and records management staffs will discuss how to build a legally defensible records management program and issues related to e-discovery, records retention and legal holds, and electronic information.

Who should attend?

This briefing is targeted toward general counsels, inspector generals, attorneys and paralegals interested in the management of their own records or are responsible for providing legal direction in Federal agencies regarding agency records management and litigation.


Because space is limited, attendees must pre-register.  Register at NARA.learn.com or click here:

When:  Monday, May 11, 2015; 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Where:  Archives I, Washington, DC – Jefferson Conference Room

Cost:  None

Entry:  Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue

For persons unable to attend, a recording of a previous briefing is available on our YouTube page:

Part I: Approximately 80 minutes

  • Key points in Federal statutory and regulatory requirements that relate to agency records
  • Best practices in building a defensible records management program
  • Counsel’s role in an agency records management program
  • Challenges and legal issues associated with electronic records

Part II: Approximately 75 minutes

  • The Nexus Between E-Record Keeping and E-Discovery
  • Email, Backup Tapes, Metadata
  • Legal Holds on Records and the Duty of Agency Counsel
  • The Presidential Memorandum and Implementing the Managing Government Records Directive

Posted in Upcoming | Tagged

GRS Project Update

This update comes from the GRS Team.

First, we would like to note that monthly status updates on the GRS project are available on our web page in the “Recent News” section. These status updates include all present and future schedules we are working on or have planned, which GRS Transmittal we expect to issue each schedule in, and the expected month and year of issuance. It also identifies which GRS appraiser is responsible and the current status of the schedule. New monthly updates are usually available sometime the first week of the month. If you have any questions about the status of a schedule, please contact GRS_Team@nara.gov.

We would also like to remind you about the draft Capstone GRS and upcoming public meeting we announced last week.

GRS Project Status

GRS Transmittal 24 is in the home stretch. We are planning to issue this transmittal sometime this June. Currently, four schedules have been signed by the Archivist, one is on its way for signature, and two will come off the Federal Register the beginning of April. The following schedules are planned for GRS Transmittal 24:

2.1 Employee Acquisition Records (DAA-GRS-2014-0002) (pending OPM concurrence)

2.5 Employee Separation Records (DAA-GRS-2014-0004)

2.8 Employee Ethics Records (DAA-GRS-2014-0005)

4.1 Records Management Records (DAA-GRS-2013-0002)

4.2 Information Access and Protection Records (DAA-GRS-2013-0007, DAA-GRS-2015-0002)

6.2 Federal Advisory Committee Records (DAA-GRS-2015-0001)

The next batch of schedules is also well on its way. Three schedules have already gone out for agency review (1.3 Budget Records, 2.4 Employee Compensation and Benefits Records, and 4.4 Library Records). We are currently adjudicating comments on those schedules and want to thank everyone that provided feedback. We really appreciate it and your comments do often result in revisions! Five more schedules are expected to go out for review sometime in April:

2.2 Employee Management Records

2.3 Employee Relations Records

2.6 Employee Training Records

5.4 Facilities, Fleet and Equipment Records

5.5 Mail and Telecommunications Services Records.

So please keep an eye on RM Communications for your chance to review and provide feedback on these draft schedules.

We are also starting work on our final batch of schedules, although these are in the very early stages of development. You may be hearing from us later in the summer or early fall seeking assistance during the development process. This will be the last batch of schedules related to the current update project.

We also want to give everyone a heads up that a survey will be coming out in a few months asking for feedback on the new GRS and how it is working in your agencies.

Posted in GRS | Tagged

DRAFT Capstone GRS Available

General Records Schedule 6.1: Email Managed Under a Capstone Approach 

Given public interest in Federal Government email management, and in conjunction with its publication in the Federal Register, NARA is soliciting comments on General Records Schedule 6.1: Email Managed under a Capstone Approach. To facilitate the comment process, a copy of the review package comprised of the proposed records disposition schedule, accompanying FAQ, and appraisal memoranda, can be downloaded (.pdf).  To aid in public understanding of this GRS, we created a White Paper (.pdf) that provides additional background information on the Capstone approach, appraisal of records at NARA, and the development of this general records schedule.

This records schedule was developed to provide disposition authority for agencies who implement a Capstone approach to managing their email as outlined in NARA Bulletin 2013-02: Guidance on a New Approach to Managing Email Records [Capstone]; and to assist agencies in meeting Goal 1.2 of the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18), which requires agencies to manage both permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format by December 31, 2016.

So that we can insure all comments are received and considered, comments must be sent to request.schedule@nara.gov no later than June 1, 2015.

An open public meeting will also be held to solicit comments on this schedule. The meeting will be held on Thursday, May 21, 2015, in the McGowan Theater (basement level), National Archives and Records Administration downtown building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (Metrorail’s Yellow or Green lines to the Archives/Navy Memorial station). Please enter on the Constitution Avenue side of the building, the “Special Events” entrance (which is actually the exit for the general public). Additional information on this meeting is published in a separate Federal Register Public meeting Notice.

Posted in Email Management 2.0, GRS | Tagged , ,

OPM Releases Final Records Management Occupation Flysheet

OPM released a memorandum for Chief Human Capital Officers announcing the final version of the Records Management Occupation Flysheet (O308) and the Qualification Standard on March 10. This action formally created a new occupational series of records and information management. We believe this will elevate the roles, responsibilities, and skill sets for agency records officers and other records and information professionals.

The task of establishing the occupational series is an important target in the Managing Government Records Directive. OPM conducted multiple rounds of review, focus groups, and received numerous comments from us, the federal records management community, and other interested groups as they created this series.

OPM Deputy Associate Director, Recruitment & Hiring, Kimberly A. Holden said “Establishment of this new series brings into focus the records and information management workforce using one occupational series to provide consistency in describing, classifying, and recruiting for records and information management specialists across the Federal Government.”

For specific questions regarding how this series will be applied at your agency please contact your Human Capital Office for details. General questions or feedback to NARA can be sent to: Preston Huff at preston.huff@nara.gov or Lisa Haralampus at lisa.haralampus@nara.gov. We look forward to hearing from you about this new series

Posted in Presidential Memorandum | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Open Source Tools for Records Management Report Released

We are pleased to announce the release of a report on open source tools for records management. This report was produced in response to item A3.2 in the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18) and is available here. This item actively encourages NARA to work with agencies to review and identify open source tools for records management tasks. To start this discussion, we’ve compiled a selection of open source tools that could be used for various records management functions. The list is a “snapshot” of available tools as of October 2014. We haven’t tested the tools, nor do we endorse them.

We will now be moving this discussion to the ERM Automation Working Group wiki. The wiki provides a space for federal employees to contribute to the list and share their experiences with the tools. Members of the wiki are encouraged to describe how they have used tools and share additional recommendations.

Note that this project only focuses on currently available open source tools. NARA will not be developing any new records management solutions in the scope of this project. However, NARA will explore building relationships with the open source community to identify gaps in tools and identify opportunities for external involvement to develop new solutions. The intended audience for this document is not only records management and IT staff in Federal agencies, but also developers in the open source community and any other interested parties.

Please contact Beth Cron (bethany.cron@nara.gov) or Lisa Haralampus (lisa.haralampus@nara.gov) with any feedback.

We look forward to continuing this discussion!

Posted in Presidential Memorandum | Tagged , ,

Automated Electronic Records Management Plan Portal

We have launched a new portal to share information about our ongoing work on the Automated Electronic Records Management Plan. The portal displays a table corresponding to the three parts of the framework in the plan: governance, procurement, and technology. We will post on our ongoing projects to the portal. All of these projects demonstrate what we are thinking about and acting on the vision of the Managing Government Records Directive.

Posted in Presidential Memorandum | Tagged

GRS Update: Bucketing Items

This update is from our General Records Schedule (GRS) Team

The GRS Team has recently been reviewing a number of schedules from agencies that bucket GRS items. (This review is part of the normal internal stakeholder review process that all schedules go through and any schedules superseding GRS items are reviewed by the GRS Team.)  One of the problems we commonly encounter when doing these reviews relates to cutoff instructions, so we wanted to take a moment to remind agencies about why cutoff instructions—even in big bucket schedules—are important to consider, especially when bucketing GRS items.

We will often see cases where an agency has included a GRS item with a 3 year retention in a 5 year bucket item. This all seems well and good until you look at the cutoff instructions. Many bucket items just have a simple instruction like “Destroy when 5 years old.” But the GRS item it is superseding says “Destroy 3 years after superseded or obsolete.” One instruction has a cutoff at the beginning of the lifecycle (retention is based on when the record was created). The other is based on the end of the lifecycle. This can result in the 5 year retention actually being shorter than the 3 year retention. For example, say the records here are administrative policies. That policy may still be actively used 5 years after it is created. You don’t want to destroy it if it’s in use. That is why the GRS states that it should be destroyed a certain period of time after use has ceased (it is superseded or obsolete). The GRS Team would not concur with the proposed bucketing of this item to 5 years, unless the cutoff was changed.

So how do you resolve this issue in big bucket schedules: the most common way we have seen other agencies do it while not having to completely blow apart their buckets is to include specific cutoff instructions in their crosswalks. The disposition instruction states “Destroy 5 years after cutoff” and the cutoff instruction for the bucket item refers to users to the crosswalk.  Then each item will indicate the cutoff.

If you have questions related to bucketing GRS items, please contact GRS_Team@nara.gov. We’re happy to help.

Posted in GRS | Tagged | 3 Comments

BRIDG Meeting Cancelled

The February BRIDG Meeting has been cancelled for today.  The Office of Personnel Management has announced the following operating status: ALERT

Federal agencies in the Washington, DC area are OPEN and employees have the OPTION for UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK.

As a reminder, our BRIDG meeting cancellation policy is the following:

NARA reserves the right to postpone or cancel a meeting at any time. We will make every effort to contact registrants by e-mail and telephone if that occurs, so complete information at the time of registration is very important. Meetings WILL BE CANCELLED if the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announces a “closed”, “unscheduled leave”, “unscheduled telework”, and/or a “delayed arrival” policy for Federal employees for that day or if there has been an elevation to threat level RED in the Homeland Security status. Official Government closing and leave information is located on the OPM web site at at www.opm.gov.

Posted in General | Tagged | 2 Comments