From the USGS "Disposition of Federal Records" Web page: "Disposition is the final chapter in the records lifecycle, resulting in destruction of the records or their permanent, archival retention. Federal law requires the proper safeguarding of Federal records and makes it a crime to destroy them without the approval of the Archivist of the United States. Creation and use of any record reflect an investment of organizational assets. Over the past century the USGS has developed many scientific and historically valuable records which cannot be recreated if they are lost or destroyed. Some of these records are and will become a permanent part of the records of the government to be preserved at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). These records document the most important product of the USGS - earth science information, which will help future generations build on the scientific foundations laid by our scientists in the Bureau's first 125 years.
"In addition, the USGS creates many temporary or short-term records, some of which can be destroyed in a few years while others may have a lifecycle of 100 years. It is important to understand what a record is and how to manage it through its creation."
Determine records requirements.
What is a Federal record?
A Federal record is any recorded information relating to the work of your office, regardless of who created it or how the information was recorded.
What isn't considered a Federal record? Things like any personal papers, convenience copies, library holdings, and duplicate copies of publications.
Establish and utilize retention schedules.
See the U.S. Geological Survey Manual: Records Disposition Schedules to ensure that a records schedule has been identified:
Creating quality data is a continual process; not a static, one-time-only process. If it is determined that the data no longer meet the user's needs, the old data may be archived and new data planned for, acquired, and maintained.
Document the destruction of a record.
When destroying documents, your office must complete a "Certificate of Records Destruction" and maintain the certificate along with other records disposition documentation. In your file plan, file these certificates using the USGS General Records Disposition Schedule, Item 207-02 - Records Management Files.
Where can I go for more help?
Contact your local Records Liaison Officer.
What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires:
By law, no Federal record can be destroyed without authorization from the Archivist of the United States, and the vehicle for obtaining the authorization is a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) approved records disposition schedule. The NARA-approved USGS General Records Disposition Schedule incorporates all records descriptions and dispositions contained in the NARA General Records Schedules (36 CFR 1225) which are pertinent to USGS operations.