U.S. Geological Survey Manual
Handbook for Managing USGS Records, 432-1-H
Prepared by the Administrative Division
This Survey Manual Handbook (432-l-H) supplements the USGS Files Management Program objectives set forth in SM 432.l and SM 431.9 (Micrographics) Specifically, it prescribes standards and procedures to ensure that adequate and proper records are made and preserved to fully document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures and essential transactions of the U.S. Geological Survey; and to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the USGS and persons directly affected by its activities.
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 1228.22) which are pertinent to USGS operations. In addition, NARA-approved division-specific records disposition schedules have been established for Geologic, National Mapping, and Water Resources Divisions' program oriented records. The General Schedule and the division-specific schedule (as applicable) are being distributed with this handbook.
Establishment of USGS filing systems in accordance with the item numbers designated in these schedules and application of the corresponding disposition instructions are mandatory.
Questions and/or suggestions regarding the content of this handbook may be directed to the USGS Paperwork Management Officer, Administrative Division, Office of Facilities and Management Services, National Center, Mail Stop 208, Reston, VA 20192.
The previous edition of this handbook dated June 1986 is hereby superseded.
DATE: OCTOBER 1990
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 - PROCEDURES
CHAPTER 2 - SUBJECT FILING
CHAPTER 3 - ELECTRONIC RECORDKEEPING
Figure 1-1 Sample Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan (USGS Form 9-1933)
Figure 1-1 Sample Files Maintenance and Disposition
Plan (Continuation Sheet)(USGS Form 9-1933-A)
Figure 1-2 Sample File Drawer
Figure 1-3 How to Convert Files to Series Listed in the
USGS Records Disposition Schedules
Figure 1-4 Cross-Reference
Figure 1-5 Continuity Reference
Figure 1-6 Chargeout Record
Figure 2-1 Arrangement of Subject File Folders,
Guides, and Labels
Figure 3-1 Listing of FIPS PUBS Relevant to Electronic
Figure 5-1 Sample Standard Form 115
Figure 5-2 Federal Records Centers
Figure 5-3 Sample Standard Form 135
Figure 5-4 Sample Optional Form 11
Figure 5-5 Sample NA Form 13001
Figure 5-6 Sample Standard Form 258
Figure 5-7 Sample USGS Form 9-1569
Figure 5-8 Table of Cubic Foot Equivalents
Appendix A Self-Inspection Guide for Files Maintenance
Appendix B Divisions of the Alphabet
Appendix C Subject Outlines
Appendix D USGS Records Disposition Schedules
CHAPTER 1. PROCEDURES
SECTION A. INTRODUCTION
1. Objectives. To establish and organize files (regardless of physical form) so that needed records can be found rapidly, complete documentation of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) programs is assured, identification of records of archival value is facilitated, and disposition of noncurrent records is accomplished promptly and economically. These objectives are achieved through the application of records management standards and techniques designed to:
A. Assure uniformity and simplicity in maintaining and using records;
B. Provide adequate controls over the creation of file materials and prevent accumulation of unnecessary files;
C. Make classification, filing, retrieval, charging out, and refiling records easier;
D. Assure the preservation of those records having sufficient continuing value to warrant their permanent retention; and
E. Provide for the systematic cutoff and periodic destruction or retirement of records in accordance with National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)-approved records disposition schedules.
A. Record Material. Record material (also frequently referred to as official files, official records, or official record material) of the USGS are books, papers, photographs, maps, charts, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics (e.g., paper, microfilm, sound recordings, magnetic tape, all machine-readable records and all audiovisual material such as still pictures, sound recordings, and video recordings), which have documentary or evidential value. Such materials, created or received in connection with the transaction of USGS business, are preserved as evidence of its organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities, or because of their informational value. Correspondence designated "personal," "confidential," "private," or "restricted" but which relates to the conduct of USGS business, is record material. Records created as a result of daily activities; e.g., calendars, appointment books, schedules, logs, diaries, and other records documenting meetings, appointments, telephone calls, trips, visits, and other activities, that contain substantive information relating to official activities not documented elsewhere, are also record material. Record material can only be disposed of in accordance with NARA-approved records disposition schedules.
B. Nonrecord Material. Library and museum material made or acquired and preserved solely for reference or exhibition purposes, extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience or reference, and stocks of publications and processed documents. May include:
D Reading file copies of correspondence.
D Tickler, follow-up, or suspense copies of correspondence.
D Identical duplicate copies of all documents maintained in the same file.
D Copies of printed or processed materials other than official copies which are maintained for record purposes.
D Superseded manuals and other directives maintained outside the office that is responsible for retaining them.
D Materials documenting such fringe activities of agencies as employee welfare activities and charitable fund drives.
D Routing slips.
D Working papers.
D Drafts of reports and correspondence.
D Transmittal sheets.
D Blank forms.
D Transcribed stenographic materials.
D Processed or published materials that are received from other activities or offices and that require no action and are not required for any kind of documentation (the originating office or activity is required to maintain record copies).
D Catalogs, trade journals, and other publications or papers that are received from government agencies, commercial firms, or private institutions and that require no action and are not part of a case upon which action is taken.
D Correspondence and other records of short term value that, after action has been completed, have neither evidentiary nor informational value, such as requests for publications and communications on hotel reservations.
- Reproduction materials, such as stencils, and offset plates.
- Information copies of correspondence and other papers on which no documented administrative action is taken.
D Physical exhibits, artifacts, and material objects lacking documentary values.
NOTE: Nonrecord materials will be destroyed when their purpose is served.
C. Personal Papers. Papers of a private or nonofficial character, whether job related or private, pertaining only to a USGS official's personal affairs, and kept in that official's office, will be clearly designated as nonrecord material and will at all times be filed separately from the official records of the office.
D. Official File Stations. An official file station is a unit where official record copies of correspondence and other documents are kept.
E. Files Custodian. The individual in charge of an official file station.
F. File Series. A group of files with similar characteristics such as the same subject matter, a single system of arrangement, similar types of papers within each folder, and the like. Each file or record series comprises the largest practical grouping of separately organized and logically related materials that can be treated as a single unit for purposes of disposal.
G. Cutoff. The termination of files at regular intervals such as the end of each fiscal year to permit their transfer, retirement, or destruction in complete file blocks. Under this process, a file is terminated regularly at the end of a specified time or an event and a new file established.
H. Disposition. Disposition refers to the actions taken with regard to records following their appraisal by NARA. No disposition of any record is authorized before its appraisal. 44 U.S.C. 2901, Federal Records Act of 1950, defines "records disposition" as "any activity with respect to:
(1) Disposal of temporary records no longer necessary for the conduct of business by destruction or donation;
(2) Transfer of records to Federal Records Centers;
(3) Transfer to NARA of records determined to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant continued preservation; or
(4) Transfer of records from one Federal agency to any other Federal agency."
I. Records Disposition Schedules. Comprehensive listings and descriptions of records created or accumulated which show all legally authorized action to be taken in relation to their retention and disposition. Records disposition schedules provide for the periodic retirement of records to records centers as well as providing for their final disposal or retention.
J. Federal Records Centers (FRCs). Storage facilities established for the receipt, maintenance, servicing, and disposition of records which are retired in accordance with authorized records disposition schedules. NARA operates a system of FRCs which USGS offices are authorized to use. (See Figure 5-2 for a listing of these facilities.)
3. Government Ownership of Records. All information received, created, or compiled by officers and employees of the Federal government for the uses of the government is official government record material and is, therefore, the property of the United States. No Federal official or employee has, by virtue of his/her position, any personal or property right to official records even though he/she may have helped develop or compile them. The unlawful destruction, removal from files, and use of official records is prohibited by the U.S. Criminal Code (Title 18, Supp. V, Sec. 2071, U.S. Code). Employees must notify the USGS Paperwork Management Officer (PMO) of an actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, or destruction or records in their custody. This notification must include:
A. A complete description of the records with volume and dates, if known;
B. Identification of the office of origin and/or custody;
C. A statement of the exact circumstances surrounding the unauthorized removal from USGS custody, defacing, or destruction of the records; and
D. A statement of the safeguards with specific procedures to be instituted to prevent further instances of loss of documentation.
4. Assistance in Records Recovery. The above information will be reported to NARA (mail code NIR), through the Department, by the PMO. The Archivist of the United States will assist the Department/Bureau in contacting the Attorney General for the recovery of any unlawfully removed records.
5. Disclosure of Information About Individuals. A disclosure occurs when personal information in a group of records under USGS control (where the information is retrieved by some personal identifier) is revealed to a third party. The Privacy Act provides for criminal and civil penalties for improper disclosures.
A. Prohibition of Disclosure. No record contained in such a group of records may be disclosed by any means of communication to any person, or to a Federal agency, without the prior written consent of the individual to whom the record pertains.
B. General Exceptions. The prohibitions stated above do not apply where disclosure of the record would be as follows: Internal disclosures to Department of the Interior employees who have a need for the record in the performance of their duties; disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act; for a routine use described in a records system notice published in the Federal Register; to the Bureau of Census; for statistical research or reporting purposes; to NARA for the preservation of records; to civil or criminal law enforcement agencies; for health and safety purposes; to Congress or the General Accounting Office; in response to a court order; and to a consumer reporting agency.
For USGS policy and detailed guidelines and procedures pertaining to the above, see SM 319.1 , Privacy Act, and 319-1-H USGS Guide for Handling Privacy Act Records Privacy Act Records.
SECTION B. PLANNING AND ARRANGING FILES
l. Files Management Standards. In accordance with 382 DM 6.4, the USGS will have a standardized filing scheme to:
A. Achieve maximum uniformity in maintaining and retrieving information;
B. Encourage disposal of records in compliance with NARA-approved records disposition schedules;
C. Promote more effective use of related files maintained in different locations; and
D. Facilitate training of files and user personnel.
Appendix A of this handbook provides a Self-Inspection Guide for Files Maintenance.
2. Official File Stations. Official file stations are specifically designated organizational units where official record copies of documents are maintained. They may be established at any organizational level. Official file stations are established as necessary to provide a network of recordkeeping locations within an organizational entity at any level to:
A. Provide technical control and supervision of official records;
B. Make coordination easier between and among file stations; and
C. Assure uniformity in filing and reference procedures.
3. Network System - Location of Official Records. Planning the proper location of files collections is the first step in effective records maintenance. The network system of filing, or official file station concept, is based primarily on decentralized records locations with centralized control. A file station may be a large central one shared by several offices, or it may be a small local station of only one or two file cabinets serving a single section or unit.
A. The network system provides for locating records where the offices with primary interest in the functions documented by the records are the principal users of the files.
B. The network system also provides for the centralization of records which are of functional interest or reference value to several offices or which must be brought together to assure that related activities are adequately documented.
C. This type of system is designed to keep as many records as possible in small, usable collections where they are more easily managed and accessible to user offices.
D. Records should be located reasonably close to regular users. This does not mean a separate records collection alongside each individual's desk. Records located in the same room, an adjacent room, or in the general vicinity of the majority of users will normally provide convenient access.
4. Centralization vs. Decentralization of File Stations.
A. Centralized Files. Consider locating records in a centralized file when:
(l) More than one work unit needs the same record.
(2) Units are sufficiently near the central file for prompt service.
(3) Security of proprietary or confidential material requires central filing.
B. Decentralized Files. Consider locating records in a decentralized file when:
(1) Records are of interest to only one work unit.
(2) Centralized filing is too distant for efficient service.
(3) Information must be immediately available to the user.
(4) Constant reference is made to the records by a particular organizational unit.
5. Basic Types (Groups) of Files. The files collection will normally consist of more than one basic type of files. The first step in planning and arranging a files collection is identifying and separating these various types.
A file group consists of a collection of file materials which have similar characteristics and which should be kept apart from other groups of records in the office. The following are common types of file groups:
A. General Correspondence (Subject) Files. Often known as the "general file" or the "subject correspondence file," this file consists of originals or copies of letters, memorandums, telegrams, reports, and miscellaneous materials. Each official file station normally has a separate correspondence file. Because this file invariably involves a wide variety of subjects, it can best be identified and used when arranged by subject (see Chapter 2).
B. Transitory Correspondence Files. These files consist of correspondence and other papers of short-term interest which should not be filed in subject correspondence files. These records involve routine transactions or do not contain information of continuing reference value. They consist of transmittal letters or forms, requests for routine information or publications, communications correcting reports or records, or other documents not requiring action by the receiving office. The recognition and separate maintenance of transitory material is important to prevent cluttering the subject file. Transitory material that has served its purpose should be destroyed immediately.
C. Case or Project Files. Case files contain material relating to a specific action, event, person, organization, location, product, or thing. The papers may cover one or many subjects concerning a case or project but will always be filed by a name or number. This practice aids in distinguishing them from general correspondence, which is filed by subject.
A case file documents a transaction or relationship from beginning to end. For example, a copy of a lease instrument may begin a case file and a request for relinquishment of the lease may close it.
D. Case Working Papers. These are short-lived correspondence and working papers accumulated in connection with specific case and project files. They include background and working materials, such as reference materials and data obtained for the case or project, data analyses and summaries, drafts, and other preliminary or intermediate papers leading to final results or findings. The most common types of working papers are routine requests for case reports or data, routine correspondence concerning the administration of a case or project, extra copies of documents or reference material, etc.
Case working papers should be segregated from the important case documents for ease of disposal and to prevent cluttering the file. They may be filed in the same folder but kept separate by fastening on the opposite side from the essential papers or they may be in separate folders placed behind the main case folder(s).
E. Technical Reference Files. Sometimes called "reference material" or "reference publications," this file group consists of printed or processed material which is nonrecord but which has a direct relationship to the work of the office and is needed for future reference. It includes such materials as technical reports, periodicals, catalogs, handbooks, equipment manuals, pamphlets, internal instructional and informational manuals, etc.
Unless the volume is very small, technical reference materials should always be maintained separately from correspondence files. Mixing correspondence files and technical reference papers hampers disposal of both types and overloads the correspondence files.
F. Convenience Files. These consist of extra nonrecord copies of correspondence, forms, and other papers kept solely to satisfy a particular need. Extra copy files should be established only when really needed. Improperly used, they waste filing equipment, supplies, office space, reproduction resources, and valuable employee time. Examples of convenience files are: reading (chronological) files, suspense files, policy reference files, alphabetical name index files, and duplicate working files.
G. Film, Tape, or Disk Records. These records have the form of graphic images or of electronic or other mechanical reproductions of sound or coded information. They are usually kept separately because of their physical characteristics. Still pictures are used in many instances to record activities or progress and must be treated as records. If prints are received only occasionally, the custom is to house them in the regular subject or case files. Still picture negatives, as well as motion pictures, demand separate housing and special care for preservation. Sound recordings from some office dictating machines are disks compatible in size with letter paper and can be filed with paper records. Many sound recordings are transcribed to paper records so that the original recording media can be discarded or reused. Other recordings are not transcribed and must be preserved, as in the case of some grievance hearings. Even a small volume of tapes or off-size recordings requires a separate file. Other items in this basic type are magnetic and paper tapes, X-ray films, and microphotographs.
H. Cartographic Materials and Drawings. Maps, charts, aerial photographs, physiographic diagrams, and engineering drawings have a variety of formats and sizes. Hence they frequently are kept separate from other records. A map usually is more usable as a printed, reduced copy than in the original. If maps are standard size, they can be filed with related papers. Field survey notes, geodetic surveys, astronomic readings, and similar computations usually are considered cartographic in nature.
The term "charts" (hydrographic, nautical, weather, aeronautical, and the like) includes graphic presentations (bar, pie, tabular, and the like).
Aerial photographs include the negative and positive (print) film and such other items as flight line indexes, mosaics, and graphic indexes, although these may not be used exclusively for mapping purposes.
Engineering drawings may be blueprints, diazo prints, pencil sketches, or tracings on vellum. These drawings require special reproduction equipment. Some oversize maps and drawings can be folded and interfiled among related subject or case files. However, if more than 10 percent of the maps, charts, or drawings are oversize, separate filing is called for. Too many bulky folded papers will seriously handicap filing and searching in standard-size records.
I. Cards. The variety of card files is almost as great as the variety of case files. However, their physical size and format make them a logically separate file group. Common sizes used as indexes, catalogs, or summaries are 3 by 5 or 5 by 8 inches. Oversize cards are used in some offices to record pay. Punched cards are basic to electronic accounting machines and can serve as computer input. Microprinted cards may contain supply specifications or inventories. Microfilm aperture cards provide one way of keeping engineering drawings.
6. Filing Arrangements within Separate File Groups. Once the basic file groups have been identified and separated within a files collection, the best method of arranging the material within each type of file must be determined. The arrangement should permit ease of filing without the need for special indexing systems. The following are six basic filing arrangements:
A. Numerical Arrangement.
B. Chronological Arrangement.
C. Geographical Arrangement.
D. Organizational Arrangement.
E. Alphabetical Arrangement. Appendix B provides standard subdivisions of the alphabet.
F. Subject Arrangement. See Chapter 2 for a model subject file classification system which provides a uniform method of organizing general correspondence administrative records that are not part of a case or project file.
SECTION C. FILES MAINTENANCE AND DISPOSITION PLANS
1. File Plan Requirement. The files custodian for each official file station will prepare a Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan, USGS Form 9-1933, identifying all files maintained at that station. (See Figure 1-3, How to Convert Files to Series Listed in the USGS Records Disposition Schedules.)
2. Purpose. Files Maintenance and Disposition Plans are prepared to make filing and reference service easier, to assist in training new personnel, and to eliminate the need for constant referrals to the records disposition schedules.
3. Plan Development and Arrangement. The plan can be developed by matching the current records holdings of the files station against the current USGS General Records Disposition Schedule or the appropriate division-specific records disposition schedule. Select only the items from the schedules which apply to files series actually kept at that station.
Each file series (see definition in Section A) kept at the station is listed on the plan in records disposition schedule item number order. All file folders should be maintained in the file drawers or shelves in the same order in which they appear in the plan. Figure 1-1 illustrates a typical files plan. Figure 1-2 shows a collection of files arranged in the same sequence as the plan.
4. Preparation Instructions. Prepare USGS Form 9-1933 using continuation sheets (Form 9-1933-A) as necessary.
Items l through 5 are self-explanatory.
Column 6A. Enter the specific item number from the current records disposition schedules for each file series.
Column 6B. Enter the title of the applicable records disposition schedule item and the filing arrangement for each series. If necessary for series identification, enter a brief, precise description of the series and list typical documents in the series. Any subgroup of the file series may be assigned an identifying letter for ease of identification, coding, or filing. When a file series is maintained apart from the files station, enter its location.
Column 6C. Enter the complete disposition instructions for each file series. If the applicable items covering disposition cannot be determined, enter "none" in Column 6C.
5. Distribution. The official files custodian will forward the original and two copies of the plan to the appropriate Division Records Liaison Officer (RLO) (for headquarters offices), and to the appropriate Records Liaison Coordinator (RLC) (for field offices), for review and approval.
6. Review and Approval. The RLO or RLC will review the files plan for accuracy, adequacy, completeness, evidence of maintenance of unnecessary duplicate files, etc., and give final approval. After signature, the RLO/RLC will keep one copy (RLCs will forward one copy to the Division RLO), and return the original to the official files custodian. Items which do not appear on a records disposition schedule will be reported to the PMO, Office of Facilities and Management Services, by the Division RLO.
7. Master Index to Division/Office Files. The Division RLOs at headquarters (RLCs in the regions) will maintain copies of all plans for the various official files stations as a master inventory and finding aid for all records in the custody of division offices.
8. Updating and Revising the Plan. A new Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan will be prepared for each fiscal year's files. In addition, the plan will be reviewed at the close of each fiscal year and amended, if necessary, to ensure that all files are accounted for and that cited disposition authorities are appropriate.
See printed handbook for Figures 1-1 and 1-2.
CHAPTER 1 - FIGURE 3
HOW TO CONVERT FILES TO SERIES LISTED IN THE
USGS RECORDS DISPOSITION SCHEDULES
ALL FILE SERIES
1. Inventory Your Files. Gather the following information about all the
files in your office:
A. Title of the file.
B. Description of the file including content, purpose, relation to what program or function, and arrangement.
C. Inclusive dates of the file.
2. Match Your Inventory With the USGS General Records Disposition Schedule and your Division-specific Records Disposition Schedule.
A. Indicate on your inventory the schedule item numbers which apply to the records in your office.
B. Report any series of records not covered in the schedules to the USGS Paperwork Management Officer.
C. Note the item number for any series of records described in the schedules which you are not now maintaining but which you feel should be maintained in your office.
3. Prepare File Folders and Labels. Prepare new file folder labels for records series which are cut off upon the occurrence of a particular event (i.e., case and project type files). Prepare new file folders and labels as described below for selected subject topics in the correspondence files.
4. A. Retire Eligible Records to the Federal Records Centers (FRC). Retire to the FRC any records which are eligible according to the records disposition schedules.
B. Offer Eligible Records to NARA.
5. Destroy Eligible Records. In accordance with the records disposition schedules, destroy all records for which the specified retention period has elapsed.
FOR MISSION CORRESPONDENCE FILES--IF you decide to arrange correspondence using Appendix C of this handbook the following actions are necessary:
1. Prepare Subject Topic Listing. If you do not already have one, make a list of all subject topics currently used to arrange correspondence in your office.
2. Reconcile Your Subject Listing with Appendix C. Choose only needed topics. You may add to, elevate, and combine subjects within any primary subject in Appendix C to meet the needs of your office. Be sure that you follow the hierarchical system.
3. Prepare File Folders. Prepare file folders and labels for:
A. The primary subjects you selected, and
B. Selected secondary subjects from primary subject outlines which relate to the functions of your office.
4. Begin Using New Subject Topics. Begin placing papers received for filing or brought forward from the old files in the new folders. Be sure to mark the new file code on the papers.
5. Expand Topics As Needed. For the first month, glance at the number of papers in the folders while filing. When there are five or more papers in one folder, break that topic down by preparing file folders for relevant secondary or tertiary subjects selected from your files outline.
6. Reclassify Papers from the Old Files. For the first three months of operation under the new system, papers referred to from the old file will be reclassified and filed under the new system. After that, papers from the old file will be brought forward only if the person making reference to the file indicates that the papers are essential to the new file.
7. Close the Old Files. The old files will be considered closed as of September 30, 19XX, and disposed of in accordance with applicable records disposition schedules. This will allow you to retrieve from the old file for one year after opening a file under the new system, since you will begin using the subject arrangement for correspondence files on October 1, 19XX.
As you inventory your files and while performing normal files maintenance
activities, you should:
l. Destroy nonrecord material which is superseded, obsolete, or no longer needed for reference;
2. Remove supplies, extra copies of forms, and other such items from file drawers; and
3. Destroy extra copies of publications and other papers not needed for distribution.
SECTION D. FILES MAINTENANCE PROCEDURES
1. Avoid Unnecessary Filing. Filing unnecessary papers is a waste of time, effort, and equipment. Following are some ways of avoiding unnecessary filing:
A. Limit the creation of formal communications on routine matters where a memo or routing slip may be substituted or a reply may be made on the incoming communication and then returned.
B. Limit the number of copies prepared to those which are specifically required or requested or which serve a valid purpose.
C. Eliminate the copies of routine communications which require no record, such as:
(1) Routine requests for publications. Return the requesting letter with the material sent. An alternative is to reply by form letter. In neither case is a file copy needed.
(2) Outgoing form letters. A notation on the incoming letter showing the form letter identification number will suffice.
(3) Routine transmittals.
(4) Copies of letters furnished solely for information, unless it is known that they will be referred to at a later date.
D. Limit "extra copy" files to those offices having good reasons for receiving them.
E. Limit the quantity of technical reference documents received, and file only those which will be of significant reference value.
2. Arranging Folders, Guides, and Labels. The orderly appearance and efficiency of any file depends upon the careful preparation, use, and arrangement of folders and guides in the file drawer or shelf. Folders are necessary to keep the papers together and in order. Guides serve as "sign posts" to help speed up the filing and finding operations. The incorrect use of either folders or guides will slow down these operations. Filing supplies are described in Section E of this chapter.
A. General Correspondence Files. Instructions for arrangement of guide cards, folders, and labels for general correspondence files are contained in Chapter 2 of this handbook.
B. Case Files and Other File Series. Guide cards and folders are important for case files and other types of records, especially if the files collection is large. Guide cards reduce the area of the search and help the folders stand erect. However, a guide card for every two or three folders is wasteful and defeats the purpose of the guides.
Four to six guide cards in each drawer or one guide to every ten folders are two rules of thumb. Place a first position guide card in front of each file series to identify and isolate it from other series in the same drawer. Square-cut folders are recommended for all files. Carefully and uniformly prepared folder labels are important to any file series. Labels should be easy to read, precise, and complete. You may consider the use of color-coded folder labels to make filing and finding easier, prevent misfiles, and aid disposition. Color codes can be used to distinguish one file series from another, one year from another, or case working papers from case history files.
3. Official File Copies of Outgoing Correspondence. Use the yellow surnamed tissues for official file copies of all outgoing correspondence. The color alerts managers, employees, and file users that this copy is the official one and should be given special handling.
4. Receiving and Preparing Papers for Filing. The following preliminary steps should be taken in preparing documents for filing:
A. Remove rubber bands, paper clips, pins, and other temporary fasteners.
B. Determine that the file is complete and all necessary enclosures or attachments are accounted for.
C. Remove all mail control forms, classified cover sheets, and routing slips except those which contain remarks of significant record value.
D. Inspect all documents to assure they have been authorized for filing. Incoming letters which did not require a reply should have the word "File," the initials of the person forwarding the communication for filing, and the date in the upper right margin. This notation is the file authority and shows that the proper official has seen the document and "certified" the need for filing it. Copies of outgoing letters should be initialed by the originator to indicate authority to file.
E. Ensure that parts of another file are not accidentally attached.
F. Mend or reinforce all torn or frayed papers with transparent tape.
G. Place the yellow official file copy of an outgoing reply on top of the related incoming letter and any pertinent attachments and staple.
5. Extra Copies. File only one copy of a paper in the official file. Destroy extra copies immediately unless there is a real need. When extra copies must be kept, file them separate from the official file.
6. Classifying Papers for Filing. After the papers have been prepared and assembled for filing, the next step is to code or classify them. Classification separates the papers into logical categories for ease of filing and finding.
A. Classification of Subject File Papers. Classifying subject correspondence material is harder and distinctly different from classifying other types of papers. See Chapter 2 of this handbook for an explanation of subject filing.
B. Classification of Case Papers. Case filing is the easiest and fastest type of filing if the case identification is prominently placed on the face of all papers to be filed. A manager or employee can expect difficulties and filing errors if papers have to be read with great care just to determine whether they belong in a case file series or another type of file. Time required for reading and marking file material can be greatly reduced if the case file name or number appears on the papers.
(1) Preparation of Case File Correspondence. Employees who prepare correspondence should place the case identification in the "In Reply Refer To," "File Reference," or similar caption printed or circle the case identification if it appears in the body of the letter. If these practices are not always possible or acceptable, typists can type the case identification in the upper right corner of file copies.
(2) Filing of Case Papers. Use the identifying name or number for classifying and coding case filed documents. In most instances, this identification is somewhere on the paper and need only be underlined or circled. If the case identification is not shown on the paper, determine the proper classification and write the appropriate file code in the upper right corner.
C. Classification of Temporary Papers. Use an abbreviation symbol such as "T" for papers to be filed in the "Transitory" file and "S" for "Suspense" file to classify these papers. Green or blue tissue is designated for reading or chronological file copies so they can easily be identified.
7. Cross-Reference. A cross-reference is a means of referring to a document by a file identification other than that under which it is filed. If a document being classified for filing involves more than one subject or case transaction and there is a possibility it might be asked for by either, a cross-reference should be prepared as a finding aid.
(1) Select the file designation for the additional subject or case and write it directly below the file designation for the main subject or case. Mark an "X" by this file designation to show that a cross-reference is required. For example:
ORM 7-1 Indicates the location of this copy in the file.
X PAP 4-2 Indicates that a subject cross reference is to be made for this subject.
(2) Use the Cross-Reference Form, Optional Form 21, for preparing cross-references of records maintained in all types of files (see Figure 1-4). If extra copies of the paper are available or if "quick" copies can be made conveniently, they may be used instead of the Cross-Reference Form.
B. Avoid Unnecessary Cross-References. Avoid making and filing unnecessary Cross-Reference Forms, as they take up valuable space and time.
C. Cross-Referencing Relocated Material. A cross-reference can also be used to indicate that a record has been moved from one place in the file to another, such as bringing forward a piece of correspondence from a cut-off or closed file for attachment to a document in the current file. While the Cross-Reference Form may be used for this purpose, a specialized form, Optional Form 22, Continuity Reference, is also available (see Figure 1-5).
8. Placing Materials in File Folders. Verify the item being filed. Match the file designation of each file item with the designation on the folder label before placing it in the folder. This simple practice can greatly reduce misfiles.
File material in the folder with the top of the sheet toward the left of the file drawer as the reader faces it. In this manner, all filed documents can be read easily. Generally, paper should be filed chronologically, with the latest on top, with directly related material kept together.
9. Filing Loosely vs. Fastening. In a loose file, staple together directly related papers concerning the same transaction. In a fastened file, arrange units of file material in chronological order with the most recent date on top. Following are guidelines for fastening papers or filing loosely:
A. Fasten papers in:
(1) Large case files which receive extensive use and have a long life; or
(2) Any other vital file when the entire folder is charged out.
B. File papers loosely in:
(1) Subject and other files when individual papers rather than entire folders are charged out;
(2) Small, routine case files; or
(3) Larger case files with low reference or short life.
10. Filing Confidential Records. The same general filing guidelines used for nonconfidential records are used in filing confidential or proprietary materials. However, the following safeguards apply:
A. File confidential records separately in equipment affording necessary security.
B. Place a Cross-Reference Form in the nonconfidential file folder of the subject or case to indicate that the confidential material is filed in security equipment. The Cross-Reference Form will not reveal the content of the confidential material. If an entire folder is kept in security equipment, use a Chargeout Record (Figure 1-6) to show the location.
11. Finding Papers in the Files. The following steps illustrate how to find papers:
A. Obtain, if possible, enough information to identify the file; that is, the file designation such as name, file number or subject, and the date.
B. If given the name, title, or number of a case file, go directly to that case file.
C. If given the subject of the file, go directly to that subject. If uncertain of the exact subject, consult the files plan for the correct subject designation.
D. If the material cannot be found in the files and is of recent date, check any unfiled material.
12. Charging Material from the Files. When items are removed from the files and sent to an individual or office, a record of such loan should be made. Proper and consistent use of a Chargeout Record will eliminate much wasted effort in searching for documents.
A Chargeout Record should be completed and put in the folder or file drawer or shelf in place of the withdrawn material (see Figure 1-6). USGS Form 9-357 is available for drawer files, and Optional Form 24 (letter size) or Optional Form 25 (legal size) for shelf files. Place the Chargeout Record at the exact location of the withdrawn material with the "OUT" portion clearly visible.
The files custodian should review the Chargeout Record periodically and request the return of files that have been charged out for a long period of time. When the material is returned to the file, remove the Chargeout Record and draw a line through the entry indicating the charge. This form can then be reused.
13. Maintaining the Files. Neatness and orderliness are essential to filing efficiency. The following instructions will assist in maintaining this efficiency.
A. Identify File Drawers or Shelf File Doors. Label file drawers/doors to show what files, subject, or names are filed in them. Show the year if appropriate. The records disposition schedule item number(s) may also be placed on the drawer label.
B. Prevent Overcrowding the Files. Allow at least four inches of space in each active file drawer to permit enough working space.
C. Keep Papers Straight. When placing material in file folders, do not let the papers extend beyond the edges of the folders. Crease or fold papers when necessary.
D. Avoid Overloading File Folders. When the contents of the folder increase to the point that papers begin to obscure folder labels, crease the bottom of the folder leaves at the second expansion lines to increase the capacity of the folder. When the folder content reaches 3/4 inches, either:
(1) Add a new folder bearing the same file designation in front of the full folder and show inclusive dates on the folders; or
(2) Divide the contents of the folder, if practical, by subdividing the file designation.
E. Avoid Cluttering the Files. Bulky or odd-size material should be filed in equipment suitable to its size and not mixed with standard size documents. This material can be cross-referenced in the regular files so that it can be readily identified with related papers.
See printed handbook for Figures 1-4, 1-5, and 1-6.
SECTION E - FILING EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
A. Advantages. Use of standard equipment and supplies promotes efficient and simple file operations and has the advantages of interchangeability, lower cost through quantity purchasing, easier stocking, and uniform appearance.
B. Use and Replacement of Existing Equipment. Do not replace equipment and supplies on hand because they fail to meet established standards. Use existing stocks until exhausted. When stocks require replacement, obtain letter-size standard items. Filing supplies and equipment should be the most economical possible to meet requirements. Legal-size documents are costly and inefficient. Legal-size paper costs about 25 percent more than letter-size. Legal-size file cabinets cost about 13 percent more than letter-size for the upright variety and 28 percent more for the mobile or hanging file type. These cabinets take up to 16 percent more floor space than letter-size cabinets. Inactive legal-size files take up 20 percent more space in FRCs than do letter-size files. For these reasons, the General Services Administration (GSA) recommends that agencies review all legal-size records with a view towards eliminating, to the maximum extent practicable, records larger than 8-1/2 x 11 inches. Because there are still a few instances where legal size equipment may be necessary, National Stock Numbers (NSN) are shown for both letter size and legal size standard supplies and equipment. These items are available from GSA and are listed in the GSA Supply Catalog.
2. File Folders.
A. Kraft folders will meet most filing requirements since most records are current for a relatively short time before they are retired or destroyed. The standard kraft folder is 11 point, plain bottom, scored for 3/4" expansion, reinforced, straight cut self tab, 1/3 scored.
(1) Drawer Files.
(a) Letter Size: NSN 7530-00-663-0031, 9-1/2" x 11-3/4".
(b) Legal Size: NSN 7530-00-200-4308, 9-1/2" x 14-3/4".
(c) Letter size with built-in 1-1/2" prong fastener: NSN 7530-00-889-3555, 9-1/2" x 11-3/4".
(d) Legal size with built-in 1-5/8" prong fastener: NSN 7530-00-559-4512, 9-1/2" x 14-3/4".
(2) Shelf Files.
(a) Letter Size: NSN 7530-00-881-2957, 9-1/2" x 11-3/4".
(b) Legal Size: NSN 7530-00-926-8975, 9-1/2" x 14-3/4".
(c) Letter size with built-in 1-5/8" prong fastener: NSN 7530-00-926-8974.
B. Pressboard folders should be used for case and project files when kraft folders will not withstand the added volume and/or use. Prepare such folders only as they are needed. Standard pressboard folders have gusset for one-inch expansion, straight cut self tab, and built-in 1-1/2" prong fastener:
(1) Drawer Files.
(a) Letter Size: NSN 7530-00-926-8981, 9-1/2" x 11-3/4".
(b) Legal Size: NSN 7530-00-926-8982, 9-1/2" x 14-3/4".
(2) Shelf Files.
(a) Letter Size: NSN 7530-00-926-8983, 9-1/2" x 11-3/4".
(b) Legal Size: NSN 7530-00-926-8984, 9-1/2" x 14-3/4".
3. Folder Labels. Use folder labels to place captions on the folder tab in a neat, uniform, and legible manner. Pressure-sensitive folder labels which do not require moistening are recommended. They are packed in a continuous strip (rolled or fan-folded) with 248 in a box. Labels are 3-1/2" x 1/2", available in plain white or with a 3/32" wide identification strip in various colors. Stock numbers are NSN 7530-00-577-4368 through NSN 7530-00-577-4376, depending on color.
4. Guide Cards. File guides makes files more usable. In addition to indexing files such as correspondence files, guides serve to support the folders. Recommended guide cards are:
A. Drawer Files. Pressboard, one-third cut, angular metal tab, without lower projection, all positions.
(1) Letter Size: NSN 7530-00-989-0692.
(2) Legal Size: NSN 7530-00-989-0694.
B. Shelf Files. Pressboard, one-third cut, center position, with straight black steel tabs and metal shelf hooks on opposite edge.
(1) Letter Size: NSN 7530-00-989-0184.
(2) Legal Size: NSN 7530-00-989-2425.
5. Forms. The following forms will be used:
A. Chargeout Records. Drawer files, USGS Form 9-357; shelf files, Optional
Form 24 (letter size) or Optional Form 25 (legal size).
B. Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan, USGS Form 9-1933 and Form
C. Cross-Reference, Optional Form 21 (Continuity Reference, Optional Form 22,
may also be used).
D. Annual Summary of Records Holdings, USGS Form 9-1569.
6. Standard Filing Cabinets. Files equipment should be standardized to accommodate the types of documents most often filed at a files station. Use letter-size cabinets for records up to 8-1/2" x 11". If less than 20 percent of the papers to be filed are legal size, fold the larger papers and file the entire collection in letter-size cabinets. When more than 20 percent consist of legal-size records, use legal filing cabinets.
7. Shelf Filing Equipment. Standard shelf filing cabinets are better than standard filing cabinets for certain material. For example, shelf filing is best for records that are alphabetically or numerically arranged, such as case or project files. Consider shelf filing when records total 220 linear feet or more and the file station is in a relatively permanent location; when the purchase of new filing equipment is contemplated; and when only a limited amount of required additional filing space is available.
8. Powered or Other Mechanized Filing Equipment. The following factors should be considered when planning the use of mechanized filing equipment:
A. The filing system for which the equipment is intended is well established and not likely to undergo changes which would eliminate the need for the equipment.
B. The site where the records are to be maintained is suitable. Because of the weight of the equipment, it may be necessary to reinforce floors or even prohibit its use in some buildings. Insure that adequate electrical current is available to safely operate the equipment.
C. The proposed equipment will house a large concentration of records that need to be accessible to one user at a time. If several persons need to use the file at the same time, mechanized equipment is not practical and cannot be justified.
D. The filing station is in a relatively permanent filing location.
E. Adequate maintenance and repair facilities are available.
F. There is specific evidence that the use of the equipment will be cost-beneficial in terms of manpower and space savings and increased workload capability.
9. Sorting Devices. When the volume of paper is small, desk trays, a table, or desk top can be used for sorting. However, a simple sorting device is helpful for most sorting operations involving a large volume of paper. It has a series of dividers, three or four inches wide, each hinged to a flat base. Tabs can be labeled and inserted as required. A 24-division sorter will generally meet the sorting requirements of a small file station. Sorting equipment containing horizontal or vertical dividers is also available.
10. Requests for Correspondence Filing Cabinets. The procedures contained in SM 402.15 are to be followed when new correspondence filing cabinets are being purchased. In addition, the following procedures apply:
A. Preliminary review by the pertinent Division Administrative Officer (AO) and approval by the PMO is also required for headquarters offices, and
B. The pertinent AO will review and the Management Officers will approve procurement of the filing cabinets for field offices.
CHAPTER 2 - SUBJECT FILING
SECTION A - INTRODUCTION
1. Purpose and Applicability. The arrangement by subject of general correspondence and related papers, reports, completed forms, etc., is called subject filing. Subject filing provides a uniform system for organizing the small, but important, collections of files that do not lend themselves to arrangement by name or number. A subject filing system is designed to arrange and group general correspondence and similar papers by the function to which their subject relates. It is prescribed for use by all official files stations in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that keep general correspondence files.
2. Distinction Between Subject Correspondence and Other File Groups. Employees should be fully aware of the type of material that is placed in a subject correspondence file. A letter regarding a specific project, lease, laboratory report, purchase transaction, or the like, is not usually considered general correspondence. Papers of this type are generally placed in a case-type file documenting the particular activity. However, a memorandum regarding projects, leases, purchases, or the like, which is of a general nature and not about a specific transaction, is probably subject correspondence material and would be filed in the general correspondence files. The ability to distinguish between subject correspondence and case files or other records is vital to any good files operation. (Chapter 1, Section B, Paragraph 5 of this handbook covers basic types (groups) of files.)
Some subject file outlines, when developed, contain instructions for subdividing subject topics by name or number when sufficient volume warrants such a breakdown. Such files are considered to be subject files and the name or number breakdown is secondary within the subject.
3. Arrangement of Subject Outlines. Subject file outlines consist of selected main (primary) subject titles with related subjects grouped in outline form as subdivisions of the primary subject titles. These subdivisions are known as secondary (second level) and tertiary (third level) subjects. Appendix C consists of 15 primary subject titles representing administrative functions common to most Federal agencies with related subordinate subjects grouped in outline form as subdivisions of the primary subject. These subdivisions are referred to as secondary and tertiary subjects. Primary subjects are assigned a three-letter code; secondary and tertiary subjects contain the same three-letter code and a simple numerical identification. The following illustrates the subject-numeric coding system:
Primary subject: PER Personnel
Secondary subject: PER 10 Pay Administration
Tertiary subject: PER 10-2 Deductions
By expanding the primary subjects as necessary to include different program areas, an agency can develop a comprehensive filing system for all correspondence filed by subject.
4. Subject File Codes. The coding scheme used in a subject file classification system is called a subject-numeric code. The primary titles have a short abbreviation which suggests the subject. Simple serial numbers have been assigned to subject breakdowns at both the secondary and tertiary levels. One example of file codes under this system could be as follows:
Primary Subject: OFS Office Services
Secondary Subject: OFS 5 Communications Services
Tertiary Subject: OFS 5-2 Mail Facilities and Services
5. Functional System. A subject file classification system is a functional system. A primary subject represents functions of offices that are performed separately or are recognized as separate breakdowns of a function.
Generally, a primary subject and its related subdivisions will be used almost entirely by the office of primary interest; that is, the office responsible for the function the subject identifies. However, any subject outline may be used as required by an activity or office without necessarily using all the subdivisions.
6. Segregation of "Mission" and "Nonmission" Papers. The responsibility for documentation of a work function rests primarily with the office performing that function. The Subject File Classification System requires the segregation of "mission" papers from "nonmission" papers. Mission papers document the functions and responsibilities for which the office is primarily responsible. Nonmission papers consist of the administrative records that are accumulated in any office but which are not directly related to its mission. Nonmission papers may include copies of papers relating to programs or projects for which another office has direct responsibility. They may also consist of records regarding the routine internal administrative or housekeeping functions of the office. The mission and nonmission categories of subject files should be maintained as separate groups. Folder labels should reflect which schedule item number is appropriate.
A. Mission Files. General correspondence and other subject file papers directly related to the mission of your office should be filed according to an appropriate primary subject or its related subdivision. Mission files are covered by Item 102-02 in the USGS General Records Disposition Schedule. Item 102-02a is used by offices whose primary mission is concerned with program operations. Item 102-02b is used by offices whose primary mission concerns administrative support functions.
B. Nonmission Files. All other subject correspondence should be arranged according to a Subject File Classification System and filed as nonmission correspondence. The nonmission files are covered by Item 102-01 in the USGS General Records Disposition Schedule.
NOTE: Where individual division-specific records disposition schedules cover mission and nonmission files, that schedule takes precedence.
SECTION B - ESTABLISHING THE SUBJECT FILES
1. Application of the System. Each official files station custodian selects the primary subjects from a subject system which will best meet the needs of the office(s) the station serves.
A. Mission Subjects. Normally, one primary subject is selected which reflects the most important activity of each office served by the official file station. Thus, records documenting official actions taken in carrying out the mission of the organization will be grouped under one primary subject.
For some organizations, it may be necessary to select two or more primary subjects to adequately provide for records reflecting their mission.
B. Nonmission Subjects. Other primary subjects are selected as necessary to provide for papers which, while they do not reflect the mission or function of the office(s) served by the files station, are needed for reference purposes.
2. Selection of Subtopics. Do NOT prepare a folder for every topic in the subject outlines. A file system is designed to cover subjects in depth only when detailed breakdowns are necessary.
Many files stations will not need detailed subject files except in the subject area(s) which covers the functional responsibilities of the office(s) served by that station. Often the primary subject topics alone will be sufficient to file all papers on a particular nonmission subject.
Avoid setting up folders that will contain only one or two papers. A topic is not usually selected unless there will be five to ten papers filed under it during the year. The ideal average is about 25 pages per folder each year.
3. Further Subdivisions and Addition of Topics. A bulky folder is a signal that the file needs to be broken down further or a new topic added. Managers and employees may need to subdivide a topic alphabetically by name, geographic location, or other breakdown. It may also be necessary to create new subtopics at the secondary and tertiary levels. Add new subjects (topics) only when experience indicates reference rates and volume of documents warrant a separate subdivision. The need to add topics usually occurs whenever a subject area coincides with a major function or program responsibility of the office. Make the new subject title as short and clear as possible. Be certain to insert the new topic at the proper level so that it represents subject coverage similar in scope to other topics at that level.
4. Preparation of Files Outline. After selecting appropriate primary subjects and subordinate topics, each official files station custodian will prepare a subject files outline as part of the Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan. Procedures for preparing the plan are contained in Chapter 1, Section C of this handbook. Also see Figure 1-1 for an example.
SECTION C - ARRANGING THE SUBJECT FILES
1. Applicability. The instructions given below apply specifically to files maintained in drawer-type filing equipment. These same basic principles of arrangement, however, may also be adapted to meet the needs of shelf files and mechanized filing equipment.
2. Folders and Guides. Folders and guides should be arranged as shown in Figure 2-1. Place folders and guides in the file drawer in the exact sequence in which subjects appear in the office file outline, starting from the front of the drawer, with guides preceding related folders. The sequence of the drawers should be from top to the bottom of the cabinets.
Use the first (left) position of one-third cut guide cards for primary subjects, second (center) position for secondary subjects, and third (right) position for tertiary subjects. Normally active files should have one guide for each 8 to 12 folders. Guide labels should show the full file code number and title of the topic for the first folder behind the guide.
3. Folder Labels. Labels through the tertiary level should be typed and placed in one position only, one-half inch from the left side of the square-cut folder tab. This arrangement improves the appearance and speeds filing operations. The eye can locate desired folders much faster if the labels are in a straight row rather than zigzagged across the file drawer. Folder labels for the subject files will include the applicable disposition schedule item number, the file code symbol, the title of the particular subject material in the folder, and the fiscal year.
See printed handbook for Figure 2-1
SECTION D - CLASSIFYING SUBJECT FILE PAPERS
1. Basic Steps in Classifying. Papers must be read and analyzed, then classified on the basis of their informational content. How quickly a document can be located after it has been filed depends largely on how carefully it has been classified before filing. The basic steps in classifying subject material are as follows:
A. Read and analyze the document to determine its major subject. The subject line appearing above the body of the correspondence is often helpful in classifying but should not be relied upon too heavily. It may be vague, misleading, or even remote from the real subject of the correspondence concerned.
B. Select the proper file designation from the office subject file outline. First select the primary subject category that fits and then the appropriate subdivision of the primary subject, if any. If there is no subdivision, use the primary subject itself as the file designation. When enough paper accumulates on a subject which was not originally selected, add the new topic to the file outline and set up a folder to handle these papers.
C. Write the subject-numeric file code in the upper right hand corner of the file copy.
D. Lightly underscore the reference when papers refer to previous papers already on file. This will emphasize that there are previous papers involved. Earlier material should be filed with later correspondence on the same subject.
2. Techniques in Classifying.
A. Be consistent. This is the first rule of classifying. Consistency will assure that papers currently being classified will be filed with the previous papers with which they belong.
B. The knack of noticing essential key phrases and ideas in correspondence helps in selecting the current file designation. The subject is sometimes hard to pick out. In such instances, it is helpful to look at the correspondence in this light: "Why was it written?" Usually the purpose for writing suggests the subject under which it should be filed.
C. It is helpful at times to refer to previous correspondence already on file to verify a tentatively selected file designation.
D. In unusual cases, the subject of correspondence is so vague that it is impossible to determine the proper file designation from the letter itself. In such cases, the classifier should contact someone more familiar with the material for more information, such as the author.
CHAPTER 3 - ELECTRONIC RECORDKEEPING
SECTION A - REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES FOR CREATING
RECORDS IN ELECTRONIC FORM
1. Special Characteristics of an Electronic Records Management Program. Electronic recordkeeping is the operation of records systems in which a computer is required for the user to create, work with, or delete records. Examples of electronic records are those residing on personal computers, magnetic tapes, disks, and drums, on video files, on optical disks, computer mainframes and area networks.
A. Without proper management, important electronic records can be lost, erased, misplaced, damaged, or otherwise disposed of prematurely. Similarly, records maintained in electronic form are subject to being retained for longer than authorized periods because they take up relatively little space.
B. The technologies used in electronic recordkeeping, including telecommunications systems, make it easy to create new files, and access and manipulate existing files from both local and remote terminals. Employees must be aware that they may be violating Federal regulations if they establish or change agency information systems, or change access methods to, or users of existing systems without having the system design or design change reviewed and approved for compliance with records management standards.
C. Developers of electronic information systems must work closely with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Paperwork Management Officer (PMO) to determine whether the information being captured and used in the system is record material or nonrecord material, to insure that records disposition is handled appropriately, and to build proper safeguards into the systems for which they are responsible. Early involvement of the PMO is especially critical in the case of major systems that may contain permanent records.
2. Life Cycle Management. In establishing a system of records in electronic form, the full life cycle of the records (data) maintained in the system must be considered and the following steps taken prior to initiating data input.
A. Coordinate establishment of the system with the PMO.
B. Establish procedures for identifying, cataloging, and labeling the electronic records to be created.
C. Determine if the data is record or nonrecord material. (See Section B below.)
D. Apply appropriate disposition instructions by reviewing the USGS records disposition schedules and including the appropriate disposal authority, instructions, and date in each file. If no authority is available, the PMO will submit a request for disposal authority to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
E. If the data is record material and updatable, establish periodic timeframes for the establishment of an entirely new file and storage of the old file (monthly, quarterly, annually) to ensure an audit trail of past data as well as current data.
F. If the records to be maintained in the system contain information about individuals, and can be retrieved by the individual's name or other personal identifier, such as Social Security number, the records will be subject to the Privacy Act of 1974. The Act requires, among other things, that adequate safeguards are to be utilized to prevent misuse of the information. The Privacy Act Officer should be contacted for requirements on documenting and publishing a description of the system of records in the Federal Register.
G. If the records to be maintained in the system contain proprietary data or information about individuals, or are deemed sensitive, the system design must include adequate safeguards to protect against unauthorized access and disclosure. Of course, system designers must also install safeguards on fiscal records to ensure against monetary theft and to provide an audit trail.
H. Ensure that adequate system documentation is created and maintained for as long as the related documents exist.
3. Labeling. The need to retrieve electronically stored records requires adequate and accurate labeling during the creation of the records. Each tape, disk pack, disk or diskette should include sufficient information for the records to be retrieved or disposed of, not only by the user, but by a colleague, a successor, or if appropriate, NARA.
A. Magnetic Tapes. Tape management systems should identify the organization responsible for the data; file title(s); date of creation and coverage; recording density (number of bits or characters recorded per inch (cbpi) or (cpi)); and type of internal labels, if applicable. Also include series number; number of tracks and track bit assignments; character code/software dependency; record length; block size (e.g., fixed, variable, or mixed); disposition instructions; reel sequence if the file is part of a multi-reel set; and any special precautions to be taken to ensure the security of the data.
B. Disk Packs. Disks are labeled electronically through the disk management system. This labeling should include disposition instructions and any special precautions to be taken to ensure the security of the data.
C. Personal Computer Hard Disks. These are labeled automatically and should include disposition instructions and any special precautions to be taken to ensure the security of the data.
D. Diskette Labels. Diskette labels should include the file or subject name and/or number; date, if appropriate; software and equipment dependency; and disposition instructions.
4. Electronic Indexing. The complexity of the indexing system is dependent upon the volume of records and the length of time they are to be retained. Electronic indexes should include, at a minimum, the subject, date, user, and identification number; e.g., file code, contract, or purchase order numbers.
5. System Documentation. System documentation will include machine programs, functional and operational flow charts, record of the coding structure (code book), printout plans, and basic machine run instructions (run books) which are to be maintained for the life of the system and for the life of the records maintained in the system.
6. Disposition. Refer to Chapter 5, Section D of this handbook and the USGS records disposition schedules.
SECTION B - RECORD AND NONRECORD INFORMATION IN ELECTRONIC FORM
1. Record and Nonrecord Determinations.
A. Creators and users of information in electronic form must be aware, prior to its creation and maintenance, whether the information is record material which requires a predetermined authorized life cycle, or is nonrecord material which may be disposed of after it has served its purpose, and must manage that information accordingly.
B. The determination of record vs. nonrecord electronic records is based on criteria similar to those used for paper and other hard copy records. If electronic records serve as the official record of correspondence, files, reports, and other official information, then they must be managed as record material. As such, the electronic record system must be appraised as a records series and the information retained in accordance with authorized records management practices.
C. Record material in electronic form includes:
(1) Informational material created or maintained only in electronic form, and never produced in hard copy form.
(2) Electronic mail messages, the contents of which concern statements of policy, rationale for a decision, sense of direction, or guidance above and beyond that documented in official files. Many electronic mail systems automatically erase information after the recipient has read it or within a short time span. Therefore, electronic records which are record material may need to be maintained in a medium that will satisfactorily store the record until its disposition date.
(3) The output of electronic information systems which support agency management functions, such as loan programs, commodity programs, and correspondence control systems, regardless of whether all or a portion of the information is also maintained in hard copy.
(4) Extracts of electronic information systems maintained in electronic form for the purpose of conducting studies and statistical analyses.
(5) Any electronic information file, regardless of its size, which contains personal information on individuals, the records for whom are retrieved by a unique personal identifier such as name or an assigned number.
D. Nonrecord material in electronic form includes:
(1) Informational material that is maintained electronically on word processing diskettes and similar magnetic media used in the process of transcription, which has been produced in hard copy form for recordkeeping purposes, and which is retained in electronic form only to facilitate updating or revision of the material at a later date.
(2) Informational material which is a duplicate copy of record or nonrecord material on an electronic storage medium and is retained on the same or different type of electronic storage medium.
(3) Work papers and personal notes in electronic form that have no record value because they are meaningless to persons other than the individual who authorized them; provide no rationale, sense of direction, or guidance beyond and above that documented in official files; and generally are used only by the author to facilitate the development and finalization of papers for approval by appropriate officials.
(4) Miscellaneous informal electronic mail messages that do not contain information on, or result in, and cannot be construed to imply, policy of any element of the agency and have not been placed in the official files.
E. Permanent record material maintained in electronic form must be created on, or converted to, magnetic tape, microfilm, paper, or other medium in accordance with the applicable requirements of NARA (36 CFR 1228.188).
F. Electronic records differ from records on other media in that the media on which electronic records are usually recorded are erasable, reusable, and used for rapid manipulation of data. These characteristics allows for economic creation of a variety of updated outputs tailored to specific needs.
G. The media on which electronic records are recorded are fragile. Therefore, these records must be protected early in their life cycle. Ideally, protection should start when a system is created and the first records are entered.
2. Filing Electronic Records for Ready Retrieval.
A. Electronic records are to be filed in accordance with system needs and assigned dispositions in accordance with USGS records disposition schedules.
B. Electronic records in an office setting should, to the extent possible, be indexed and filed in the same manner as paper records. For example:
(1) Record and nonrecord material should not be maintained on the same diskette or within the same file; instead, record material should be copied to a separate diskette or file.
(2) Diskettes and files which contain record material should be handled, duplicated, and stored in a manner which provides protection of the information from loss or change, whether inadvertent or intentional, through the use of passwords, locked file cabinets, etc.
(3) Electronic information files should be identified by the same title, and sequenced in the same way, as are similar paper or other hard copy files of the office.
SECTION C - DATA TRANSMISSION
Data transmitted via Electronic Message Systems (EMS) are subject to the requirements of this chapter. EMS may be used for both formal and informal transmissions.
1. Formal Transmissions. Transmissions that are official communications which inform, direct, consult, clarify, request (data calls), or seek or grant approval are official records and must be retained until authorized for disposal.
2. Informal Transmissions. Communications equivalent to person-to-person or telephone conversations, exclusive of the requirements of a formal transmission, are considered informal transmissions and are not official records and need not be documented.
SECTION D - STORAGE AND DISPOSAL
1. Storage. Tapes, disks, and diskettes are to be stored in compliance with applicable Federal Information Processing Standards Publications (FIPS PUBS) (see Figure 3-1). Electronically stored data containing vital records are to be copied and stored off-site for the protection of the legal and financial rights of the government, its employees, and the public. (Vital records are records essential to the continuity of governmental activities under national emergency conditions and include emergency operating records and rights and interests records. See SM 433.3 for further information.)
A. Information stored on disk/diskettes has a relatively short life expectancy estimated from one to five years. Consequently, such information should be converted to another medium if it requires continued maintenance and readability.
B. Permanent office correspondence such as letters, memoranda, reports, and similar correspondence should always be printed out in hard copy (paper) form or placed on approved microform (unless NARA has approved the electronic copy as the record copy) so that a copy may be filed in the office files. In addition, the legend on this file copy should include an identification of the disk/diskette on which the document is located. This will assist in retrieving the disk/diskette copy in case the document must be revised.
C. The use of floppy disks is prohibited for the exclusive long-term storage of permanent or unscheduled electronic records.
D. Other long-term records stored on disks/diskettes should be converted to magnetic tape, paper, microform or other appropriate media. If conversion to magnetic tape is the best alternative, the conversion process and record sequence should be coordinated with the PMO.
E. Electronic records of long-term or permanent value should be checked periodically. The information may require transfer to new media as older media deteriorate.
2. Disposal. When information is converted from paper to electronic form, the nature, usefulness, and accessibility of the information changes. Therefore, the disposition of the information when maintained in electronic form may differ from the disposition when maintained in paper form. Electronic records derived from paper records must be separately scheduled. Although paper records may already be scheduled, the retention time should be reviewed for earlier disposition at the time the records are converted to electronic form. Electronic records authorized for disposal; i.e., shipped to a Federal Records Center (FRC) or NARA, or destroyed, must comply with the requirements of paragraphs 3 and 4, below.
3. Records Authorized for Destruction. When NARA has approved the destruction of records, prompt destruction is essential. Managers should be aware that the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) apply to all records in existence in the agency, regardless of the physical form in which the records are maintained. A FOIA request for records maintained beyond their authorized destruction date would effectively bar the disposal of such records. To destroy records in electronic form, the records are to be erased from the storage media. Deleting the data from the system is not sufficient; to prevent recovery of the records, the area must be overwritten.
4. Records to be Transferred to an FRC or NARA. When NARA has determined that records stored on disks or diskettes are to be maintained for a long period of time, the information they contain must be converted to magnetic tape, paper, or microform. If conversion to magnetic tape is selected as the alternative best serving the interests of the government, the conversion process and record sequence should be coordinated with NARA prior to conversion. The following apply to tapes scheduled for transfer:
A. A file recorded on tape may be transferred to an FRC or NARA as soon as it becomes inactive or whenever the bureau/office cannot provide proper care and handling of the tape to guarantee the preservation of the information it contains.
B. Tapes to be transferred to an FRC or NARA must be on one-half inch 7 or 9 track tape reels (preferably 9 track), written in ASCII or EBCDIC, with all extraneous control characters removed from the data (except record length indicators for variable length records, or marks designating a datum, word, field, block, or file), blocked no higher than 30,000 bytes per block, at 800, 1600, or 6250 bpi.
C. The tapes must be new or recertified tapes which have been passed over a tape cleaner before writing and will be rewound under controlled tension.
D. Documentation adequate for servicing and interpreting the records must be transferred with them. The documentation must include, but is not limited to:
(1) A completed Standard Form 277, Computer Magnetic Tape File Properties, or its equivalent.
(2) The codebook specifications defining the data elements and their value that match the new format of the data (see 4B above). If the specifications are contained in an automated data element dictionary, hard copy output from that system will suffice.
SECTION E - JUDICIAL USE OF RECORDS
General. Unless there are specific statutory or regulatory requirements for paper records; e.g., medical records, the Federal Rules of Evidence (Rule 803(8)) provide that official records may be admitted as evidence in lieu of the personal appearance of the official responsible for the activity. The text of the rule follows:
"The following are not excluded by the hearsay rule, even though the declarant is available as a witness:
...(8). Public records and reports. Records, reports, statements, or data compilations, in any form, or public offices or agencies, setting forth (A) the activities of the office or agency, or (B) matters observed pursuant to duty imposed by law as to which matters there was a duty to report, excluding, however, in criminal cases matters observed by police officers and other law enforcement personnel, or (C) in civil actions and proceedings and against the Government in criminal cases, factual findings resulting from an investigation made pursuant to authority granted by law, unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness."
Under this rule, if the only record is electronic, procedures are to be established and followed so that: the date of the record can be determined; the date of any alterations will be automatically recorded by the system; and it will be evident that the document was authorized to be issued ("signed") by an appropriate agency official. If these steps are not taken, the trustworthiness of the record could easily be called to question and it could be refused as evidence.
CHAPTER 3 - FIGURE 3-1
LISTING OF FIPS PUBS RELEVANT TO ELECTRONIC RECORDKEEPING
ELECTRONIC RECORDS STANDARDS
The National Bureau of Standards has issued the following Federal Information Processing Standards Publications (FIPS PUBS) that are particularly relevant to records creation, storage, and transmission using personal computers or other electronic office equipment. Copies of these standards may be obtained from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), U.S. Department of Commerce, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Virginia 22161. (Note--FIPS PUBS with an asterisk are mandatory standards that are implemented in FIRMR, 41 CFR 201-8.)
1. FIPS PUB 46* Data Encryption Standard
2. FIPS PUB 48 Guidelines on Evaluation of Techniques for Automated Personal Identification
3. FIPS PUB 51* Magnetic Tape Cassettes for Information Interchange 3.810 mm
(0.150 in) Tape at 32 BPMM (800 BPI) Phase Encoded
4. FIPS PUB 52* Recorded Magnetic Tape Cartridge for Information Interchange, 4-Track (6.30 mm (1/4 in)), (63 BPMM (1600 BPI)), Phase Encoded.
5. FIPS PUB 54 Computer Output Microform (COM) Formats and Reduction Ratios, 16 mm and 105 mm.
6. FIPS PUB 65 Guidelines for ADP Risk Analysis
7. FIPS PUB 73 Guidelines for Security of Computer Applications
8. FIPS PUB 74 Guidelines for Implementing and Using the NBS Data Encryption Standard
9. FIPS PUB 81* DES Modes of Operation
10. FIPS PUB 82 Guideline for Inspection and Quality Control for Alphanumeric Computer-Output Microform
11. FIPS PUB 83 Guideline on User Authentication Techniques for Computer Network Access Control
12. FIPS PUB 91* Magnetic Tape Cassettes for Information Interchange, Dual Track Complementary Return-to-bias (CRB). Four-states Recording on 3.81 mm (0.150 in) tape.
13. FIPS PUB 93* Parallel Recorded Magnetic Tape Cartridge for Information Interchange, 4-Track, 6.30 mm (1/4 in) 63 BPMM (1600 BPI), Phase Encoded.
14. FIPS PUB 108 Alphanumeric Computer Output Microform Quality Test Slide
15. FIPS PUB 1-2 Code of Information Interchange (ASCII)
CHAPTER 4 - RECORDS CREATED AND MAINTAINED
FOR THE USGS BY CONTRACTORS
SECTION A - INTRODUCTION
1. Purpose. To provide guidance to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) offices regarding the acquisition and authorized disposition of data created or maintained on behalf of the USGS by contractors. Data is defined as recorded information, regardless of the form or medium on which it may be recorded.
A. Data. Recorded information, regardless of form or medium on which it may be recorded, whether processed or not.
B. Data deliverable. Data specified in a contract to be delivered to the agency. The term does not include data incidental to contract administration, such as financial, administrative, or cost or pricing data, or data that reflect the contractor's general business activities. (See 48 CFR 27.401.)
C. Deferred ordering and delivery of data clauses. Contract clauses that enable the government to require delivery of additional data first produced or specifically used in the performance of a contract.
D. Rights-in-data-clauses. Contract clauses that delineate the respective rights and obligations of the government and the contractor regarding the use, duplication, and disclosure of data produced, furnished, acquired, or specifically used in the performance of a contract. In general, the government will have unlimited rights to all data first generated in the performance of contracts for special works, and the same rights for all data delivered, except for previously copyrighted data.
SECTION B - GENERAL
1. The USGS occasionally uses contractors to perform program functions. In these cases, contractors are likely to create data that are necessary to provide adequate and proper documentation of these programs and to manage them effectively. To meet the requirements of 44 U.S.C. 3101, the USGS must ensure that necessary documentation of the contractor-operated programs is maintained. This can be accomplished by having the contractor periodically deliver pertinent documentation of how the contractor carried out the program, which may include transactional or case files, handbooks, directives, procedural statements, and other information created by the contractor. Alternately, the contract can require the contractor to maintain the records for a prescribed period of time, and retain the government's right to require delivery of specified items when and if requested.
2. In addition to contracts that result in the creation of data that are necessary for adequate and proper documentation, many types of contracts involve the creation of background data that may have reuse value to the government. Agency officials should acquire rights to obtain and use such background data in addition to the specified deliverable end product(s). The following are examples of background data that should be considered for delivery:
A. Background data to statistical analyses that a contractor creates may have further value to the agency, or to other agencies, thus suggesting the delivery of raw data as well as analytical reports.
B. Reports that represent the official position of the agency or that the agency is required by statute to prepare should specify the delivery of background data needed to verify facts or assertions or to justify conclusions.
C. Contracts for audiovisual materials should specify the delivery of all production elements needed to reproduce the audiovisual product, including a negative and magnetic soundtrack, internegative picture and soundtrack, as well as projection print(s) for motion pictures; still photographic negatives as well as prints; and a sound or video master as well as a viewing copy.
D. Contracts for the creation of architectural drawings for Federal buildings should specify the delivery of the original drawings to the government in order to provide the most accurate documentation.
E. Research contracts should specify the delivery of background data that have reuse value to the contracting agency or to other government agencies, in addition to a final report.
SECTION C - SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS
1. USGS program and contracting officials must ensure that contracts for the implementation of agency programs specify the delivery to the USGS of all data needed for the adequate and proper documentation of those programs.
2. All data delivered to or under the full, legal control of the USGS are Federal records and must be managed in accordance with the Federal Records Act, and scheduled for disposition according to USGS records disposition schedules.
3. USGS program and contracting officials should consider specifying the delivery of background data that have reuse value to the USGS.
4. When specifying what background data contractors should deliver to the USGS, program and contracting officials should consult with the USGS Paperwork Management Officer to ensure that all USGS needs are met, particularly when the data deliverables are to support a new program.
5. Deferred ordering and delivery of data clauses should be included in contracts whenever it is impossible to identify in advance all data that should be delivered to the USGS. The use of such clauses enables USGS officials, after reviewing the final product of a contract, to acquire additional background data that may be needed for adequate and proper documentation or because the data have reuse value to the USGS. Alternatively, USGS officials may wish to consider requiring the contractor to prepare a data inventory, which could be used to identify data for deferred ordering and delivery as additional data requirements are identified.
6. If the data deliverables include computer files, the contractor should be required to deliver sufficient technical documentation of the files to permit the USGS to use the data.
7. Rights-in-data clauses should be included in contracts whenever necessary to ensure the USGS right to reuse data developed as a result of a contract.
CHAPTER 5 - RECORDS DISPOSITION PROGRAM
SECTION A - INTRODUCTION
1. Objectives. Three important objectives of a records disposition program are to:
A. Preserve records of continuing value.
B. Destroy records of temporary value as soon as they have served the purpose for which they were created.
C. Remove noncurrent records from office space and filing equipment to less expensive storage facilities, thereby improving use of files and reducing maintenance costs.
2. Disposition Explained. Disposition includes the retirement, transfer, or destruction of records.
A. Retirement. Records are considered "retired" when they are sent to a designated Federal Records Center (FRC) for storage, servicing, and ultimate destruction or retention.
B. Transfer. Disposition includes the transfer or a change of custody of records from one organization or agency to another. Records are considered "retired" when they are transferred to an FRC. Records may be transferred to another office within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as a result of the realignment of functions or organizations or retired to an FRC in accordance with approved records disposition schedules without prior approval. However, any other transfer of records to another office or agency must be approved by the USGS Paperwork Management Officer (PMO).
(1) General Records. The destruction of records includes the physical destruction of the record material itself or the removal of the information content. Records authorized for destruction by a records disposition schedule will be:
(a) Placed in wastebaskets when the quantity is small and the records are nonconfidential. Normally any large quantity of records eligible for destruction should be sold as wastepaper. Records other than paper records (film and plastic records, etc.) may be salvaged or sold in the same manner and under the same conditions as paper records. The contract for sale will prohibit the resale of all records for use as records or documents. All sales will be in accordance with the established procedures for the sale of surplus personal property (see 36 CFR 1228.74(b)). Local General Services Administration (GSA) wastepaper contractors should be used when available.
(b) Destroyed by shredding, pulping, burning, or macerating if this action is necessary to avoid disclosure of information that might be prejudicial to the agency, the public, or private industry.
(c) Erased and the electronic medium reused if appropriate when the records are on magnetic tape or comparable media.
(2) Privacy Act Records. A Privacy Act record is any item, collection, or grouping of information about an individual that contains his/her name, or an identifying number, symbol, or other identifier assigned to the individual. For further information use the Guide for Handling Privacy Act Records (319-1-H). Whenever these records are disposed of by destruction, particular attention must be given to the method employed. Governing regulations, 36 CFR 1228.74(b) require destruction only as prescribed below:
(a) Records may be burned, shredded, or pulped within the organization.
(b) Records may be pulped, macerated, or shredded by a wastepaper contractor; however, a Federal employee must witness the destruction.
(c) FRC personnel will handle and witness the destruction of records in their possession.
SECTION B - RECORDS DISPOSITION SCHEDULES
1. Disposition Authority. Federal law requires proper authorization by the Archivist of the United States to destroy government records. Authorization for the destruction of USGS records is contained in National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)- approved records disposition schedules. Schedules provide for selective retention of records of continuing value and destruction of records of temporary value after the expiration of a specified period of time or upon the occurrence of a specific event. The retirement procedures in Section D of this chapter provide instructions for moving inactive and semiactive records from office space to low cost storage facilities.
A. Official records will NOT be destroyed except according to the provisions of authorized USGS records disposition schedules.
B. Nonrecord material may be destroyed when its purpose is served.
2. Application and Review of Schedules. Each office is responsible for insuring compliance with the provisions of USGS records disposition schedules and making sure that all records of the organization are covered by disposition instructions. Each office will review its files at least annually to determine whether the applicable schedules are adequate and being followed.
A. Recommendations to add, delete, or change records disposition schedules will be made when annual reviews disclose:
(1) Records series not covered by the schedules.
(2) Items that should be deleted from the schedules because the records involved are no longer being created or maintained.
(3) Retention period which needs to be changed. Changes should be recommended only when the need is clearly indicated and justified.
B. Proposed records disposition schedule revisions will be submitted to the PMO through the Division Records Liaison Officers (RLOs) and through the Records Liaison Coordinators (RLCs) for field offices. Recommendations should contain the following information:
(1) Organizational unit(s) accumulating the records.
(2) A clear and meaningful description of the records, including the purpose for which the records were created, their relationship to the program activities of the unit creating them, and their relationship with other records, including duplication elsewhere in content or in substance.
(3) A proposed period of retention no longer than necessary to satisfy normal administrative, historical, legal, and fiscal requirements, with full justification for the retention period. If the retention period proposed is longer than that for which the records are in active use, the recommendation should include transfer to an FRC when they become inactive.
C. Representative samples of paper records recommended for destruction or permanent retention will be submitted with the related recommendations. Samples will not be returned unless requested.
D. The PMO will review, coordinate, and evaluate the information furnished for conformity with policies and regulations. If the decision is made to add or change a records schedule item, the PMO will take the necessary action to obtain approval from NARA.
3. Special Considerations for Microfilmed Records. Certain record series described in records disposition schedules may be selected for microfilming. After the microfilm is verified for completeness and accuracy, transfer the paper originals to the FRC for the retention period prescribed in the USGS records disposition schedule, if the film is not to be the substitute for the paper and the paper cannot be destroyed immediately. After transfer of the paper original record copies, keep microfilm copies as working files for reference purposes. Destroy the microfilm copies when superseded, obsolete, or no longer needed for reference. If the film is to be the substitute for paper, the paper should be destroyed immediately upon verification of the film. Submit an SF 115, Request for Records Disposition Authority (see Figure 5-1) through the Division RLO and the PMO to obtain permission to destroy the paper immediately.
Systems that produce original permanent records on microfilm with no paper originals must be designed so that they produce microfilm which meets the standards of 36 CFR 1230.14. CFR 1230.26 requires that the disposition of microfilm records be carried out in the same manner as for other types of records with the following additional requirements:
A. The silver halide original (or a silver halide duplicate) microfilm record created in accordance with the standards cited above, plus one copy (silver, diazo, or vesicular), for permanent records, of each record microfilmed must be verified for completeness and accuracy. The microforms may be transferred to the FRC or to NARA in accordance with the applicable USGS records disposition schedule.
B. The microfilm must be accompanied by information identifying the agency and organization; the title of the records; the number or identifier for each unit of film; the security classification, if any; the inclusive dates, names, or other data identifying the records to be included on a unit of film; and a certification by a USGS official that the microfilm was produced in the normal course of bureau operations and that care has been taken to ensure that the microfilm is a complete and accurate copy of the original.
4. Special Considerations for Electronic Records. Special attention must be given to electronic records. They may comprise computer magnetic tapes as well as videofiles and disks. To ensure that permanently valuable information stored on electronic media is preserved, all bureau organizational units creating such records will schedule them for disposition, in accordance with the USGS General Records Disposition Schedule or the pertinent division-specific records disposition schedule, after they are created.
36 CFR 1228.188 sets forth policies governing the transfer of electronic records to NARA.
5. Special Considerations for Records Created and/or Received by High-Level USGS Officials. Many of the records created and/or received by high-level USGS officials have permanent value and require the careful application of USGS records disposition schedules to preserve them for historical purposes. We must ensure that these records are properly filed and maintained separately from personal papers so that they are not lost when an official leaves the USGS. Official records are public records and belong to the office rather than the officer.
High-level USGS officials are considered to be: the Director; Associate Director; Director's Representatives for Central Region, Western Region, and Alaska; Assistant Directors; and Division Chiefs.
NOTE: Refer to Chapter 1, Section A, paragraph 3 of this handbook for more information on government ownership of all official records received, created, or compiled by all officers and employees of the USGS.
6. General Accounting Office (GAO) Records. GAO has a direct interest in certain records created by federal agencies and, consequently, is responsible for approving retention and disposal decisions for these records.
In performing its audits or for other purposes, GAO may need to have access to accountable officers' files and other records, e.g., contract files, which remain under the control of the creating agency. Records relating to claims or demands by or against the government may not be disposed of without GAO approval. The foregoing records will be maintained and disposed of in accordance with the USGS records disposition schedules, which incorporate the GAO requirements.
See printed handbook for Figure 5-1.
SECTION C - FILES CUTOFF PROCEDURES
1. Definition and Objectives.
A. Files "cutoff" is the segregation of active and inactive files. A regular periodic cutoff of files is vital in controlling accumulation and growth of records and in making disposition of records in convenient blocks easier. Annually, at the start of each fiscal year, managers and employees should cut off files and segregate inactive files from active files, dispose of files eligible for retirement or destruction, and destroy all noncurrent technical reference material.
B. Cutting off files is important because it controls the size of the file. If not cut off periodically, folder contents will grow until individual papers become hard to find. If the files are cut off periodically, older files can be moved from active files space to storage space as they are needed less often.
2. Cutoff Standards. Cutoff standards are based on the following criteria for the various types of records:
A. Chronological Sequence Files, such as accounting records, are filed by period of account (fiscal year), and lend themselves to cutoff procedures. Chronologically arranged records can be readily cut off and retired in convenient blocks.
B. Subject Files must be cut off at planned intervals; there is no natural cutoff point such as occurs with case files or chronologically arranged records. Subject files are usually kept on a fiscal year basis.
C. Case or Project Files are often cut off upon completion of a transaction or an event, such as separation of personnel, final purchase order payment, termination of a lease, or completion of a project. When closed, the case file should be marked with the date of closing and placed in an inactive file with other such files apart from the active files. The inactive files can then be retired or destroyed in convenient fiscal year blocks. Case files that continue over a long span of years can be cut off by setting up a new folder each year or at regular intervals and retiring prior year folders which have little reference activity.
D. Technical Reference Materials have no established cutoff and are destroyed when they are superseded, obsolete, or no longer needed. These files should be reviewed at least annually to determine if they are current and still useful.
SECTION D - RETIREMENT PROCEDURES
1. Records Retirement Criteria. Offices should keep the minimum number of current records needed to operate efficiently. Inactive records on hand and not scheduled for early destruction should be retired to appropriate FRCs. FRCs will accept any Federal agency's records that are scheduled and are not authorized for immediate disposal. Records disposition schedules include retirement instructions for many file series. Agency files that meet the following retirement criteria should be transferred to an FRC:
A. Reference Rate. Files which are referred to not more than once a month per file drawer should be transferred to an FRC, provided volume is sufficient and the transportation cost does not exceed savings in office space.
B. Volume. Retirement of fewer than five cubic feet of records as one transfer action is not normally cost-effective, except from offices in the National Center. Records should be retired annually except when the volume makes more frequent transfers necessary.
Current procedures for transfer of records to an FRC require that records in each series (block of records described by a single records schedule item number) have the same disposal date and that no more than one series be packed in a single container. This means that a series of records should accumulate one cubic foot each year to provide enough records to transfer. Since many series do not grow at this rate, records from some series may be held until enough is available for transfer. The disposal date for these records is based on the latest records in the carton.
2. Donation for Preservation and Use. When the public interest will be served, a Federal agency may propose the transfer of records authorized for disposal to an eligible person, organization, institution, corporation, or government (including a foreign government) if the following provisions, as applicable, are met:
A. The proposed recipient makes application for them.
B. The applicant agrees, in writing, that the records will not be sold to third parties.
C. Transfer to the applicant will be made without cost to the Federal government.
D. The requested records do not contain information whose revelation is prohibited by law or would be contrary to the public interest.
E. An individual applying for records has demonstrated that the records involved are directly pertinent to the custody or operation of real or personal property acquired from the government.
F. A foreign government applying for records has demonstrated that it has an official interest in the records.
Records will not be transferred without the prior written approval of NARA. The PMO will request the approval for such a transfer, upon request, by preparing a letter to NARA which provides specific information for approval of the transfer as required by 36 CFR 1228.74(c).
3. Federal Records Centers (FRCs). FRCs are operated by NARA for storage, processing, and servicing of records of Federal agencies. Regional FRCs are located throughout the United States in addition to the National Records Centers in Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, Missouri. Figure 5-2 lists the addresses of the FRCs and the area served by each. Included in the paragraphs below are instructions for the retirement of files to an FRC.
4. Federal Records Center Boxes. Cardboard containers available from the GSA Federal Supply Service through normal supply channels are used to transfer files to the FRCs.
A. Standard Cartons: NSN 8115-00-117-8344 or NSN 8115-00-290-3379, depending on availability. These specially designed boxes will hold either letter- or legal-size files. Each container measures approximately 15 x 12 x 10 inches and holds l cubic foot of files.
B. Map-Size Containers: NSN 8115-00-190-5019. Plans, blueprints, maps, and similar records are packed in these map boxes (5 x 5 x 42 inches).
C. Half-Size Containers: NSN 8115-00-117-8338. Each container measures 15 x 12 x 5 inches and hold 1/2 cubic foot of card-sized documents.
D. Oversized and Undersized Records. Contact the local FRC for instructions on shipping irregular sized records.
5. General Retirement Procedures.
A. Estimating Volume. When records become eligible for transfer, the manager or employee should estimate the volume involved and obtain the boxes. A table of equivalents for estimating records volume in cubic feet is found on Figures 5-7 and 5-8 (see Section E of this Chapter).
B. Review Prior to Boxing Records. Before files are boxed for shipment, they should be screened to eliminate nonrecord material and material which the records schedule allows to be destroyed immediately. However, such screening should be limited to complete folders or subject classification file categories, and not be done page by page.
C. Packing Standard-Sized Records. Pack legal- and letter-size records in the standard FRC corrugated boxes prescribed in paragraph 4A above. In packing records, follow these rules:
(1) All records packed in the same carton must be on one type of medium; have the same disposal authority (records schedule and item number); and the same disposal date.
(2) Pack the records in the same arrangement used in the original file.
(3) The boxes must be at least 3/4 full (unless it is the last box of an accession); leave only 1/2 inch space in each.
(4) Pack letter-size folders in an upright position facing the front of the carton. Pack legal-size folders facing the left of the carton. The unstitched 12-inch side of the carton is considered the front.
(5) If the cartons are to be shipped to a center by freight, express, or parcel post, reinforce them either by placing a cardboard liner inside the carton or by taping the corners or edges of the closed carton.
D. Entering Agency Box Numbers. The accession number should be on the upper left-hand corner of the box. The box number should be on the upper right-hand corner of the box. Begin with box number 1 and include the total number in the accession, such as 1 of 10, 2 of 10, etc. Write the information directly on the box with a black felt-tip marker, in numbers 1-1/2 to 2 inches high. Numbering on box types which are smaller than standard-size may be smaller, but numbers should be at least 1-1/2 inches high whenever possible. Labels should not be used because they are not effective for long-term storage. Additional information is not necessary, but may be written on the lower half of the front of the box. Do not put tape over the accession and box numbers or write the accession and box numbers on the tape used to seal the box.
6. Preparing Transmittal Forms - SF 135. The retirement of records to an FRC requires the preparation of Standard Form 135, Records Transmittal and Receipt and Standard Form 135A, Continuation Sheet, if required.
While more than one record series may be transferred using the same form, GAO site audit records require a separate SF 135.
Offices making shipments to FRCs will prepare the SF 135 (see Figure 5-3) in an original and three copies. Complete the SF 135 as shown on the reverse of the form and as follows:
A. Item 1. To. Enter the mailing address of the FRC in the region in which the records are located.
B. Item 2. Agency Transfer Authorization. For field offices, this block is to be signed and dated by the RLC. For headquarters offices, it is to be signed by the PMO.
C. Item 3. Agency Contact. Enter the name, building and room number, and telephone number of the person to contact concerning the records. This will usually be the files custodian for the organization retiring the records.
D. Item 5. From. Include the location and mailing address of the office retiring the records. However, offices located in the National Center will place the following in Item 5:
U.S. Geological Survey
208 National Center
Office of Facilities and Management Services
ATTN: Paperwork Management Officer
Reston, VA 22092
E. Item 6. Records Data.
(1) Item (a). RG. USGS records are assigned record group (RG) number 57.
(2) Item (c). Number. Field offices obtain the number from the appropriate RLC. National Center offices obtain the number from the PMO.
(3) Item (d). Volume. Each standard container holds 1 cubic foot of records.
(4) Item (e). Agency Box Numbers. Insert appropriate box number(s).
(5) Item (f). Series Description. For each records series, provide a statement describing the records in general. This statement should include the record series title, the name of the office creating the records, a general description of the records, and their inclusive dates. Any pertinent historical data involving the organization should be included for permanent records. GAO site audit records should be identified as such.
NOTE: Be sure to maintain detailed listings of the records to make future reference to the records easier. Such lists must also be submitted with SF 135s when records are designated as permanent.
(6) Item (h). Disposal Authority. Identify the disposal authority by reference to the number of the appropriate records disposition item in the applicable record schedule. (If there is no schedule item that applies, contact the Division RLO for instruction.)
7. Identifying Accession Contents. The original copy of each SF 135 retiring permanent records to an FRC must be accompanied by a listing which adequately identifies all files in the boxes being transferred to the Center. The contents of each box must be listed on a separate page(s) and the accession number (Item 6 on the SF 135) must be shown on the upper right corner of each page. BE SURE TO MAINTAIN A COPY OF THE COMPLETE LISTING WITH THE SF 135 in your office to facilitate future reference to the records. This practice is mandatory for permanent records and is recommended for all records.
8. Identifying Records Subject to the Privacy Act. Transfers of records constituting systems of records subject to the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a) must be accompanied by the most recent USGS Privacy Act System Notice covering the records. The Notice will be attached to the SF 135.
9. Submission Instructions for SF 135.
A. Field Offices. Files custodians will prepare an original and three copies of the SF 135. They will submit the original and two copies through the appropriate RLC to the FRC. One copy will be held by the file custodian for reference until the approved SF 135 is returned.
B. National Center Offices. Files custodians will submit an original and two copies of the SF 135 through the RLO to the PMO, who will submit it to the FRC. One copy will be held by the files custodian for reference until the approved SF 135 is returned.
10. Processing the SF 135.
A. For field office records the FRC will review the SF 135 and annotate the accession number for each series in column 6(c) and the location designation for the first carton in each series in column 6(j). One copy of the completed SF 135 is returned to the RLC showing the FRC's approval to ship the records. The RLC will provide the original to the files custodian for inclusion in the first box of each shipment; retain one copy for reference; and forward one copy through the Division RLO to the PMO. The files custodian shipping the records should also retain one copy of the SF 135 for future reference to the records.
B. For USGS National Center records, the PMO assigns the accession number for each series to the SF 135 before forwarding it to the Washington National Records Center (WNRC). The WNRC date stamps the SF 135 (to indicate approval to ship the records) and returns it to the PMO. (The location designation is not assigned until WNRC actually receives and accepts the records for storage.) A copy of the SF 135 (with date stamp) is provided to the files custodian, through the Division RLO, for inclusion in the first box of records prior to shipping to WNRC. A copy of the SF 135 with the location designation is also provided to the files custodian by the PMO, through the Division RLO, after shipment and acceptance of the records by WNRC. The files custodian should retain one copy of the SF 135 for future reference to the records.
11. Enter FRC Box Numbers and Accession Number. Prior to shipment, the files custodian will follow the procedures for marking boxes in 5D above.
NOTE: Place one copy of the approved SF 135 in the first carton of each shipment together with the items in paragraphs 7 and 8 of this Section, as applicable.
12. Shipping the Records. The physical transfer of records to a records center should be accomplished within 90 days after the approved copy of the SF 135 has been received from NARA. If NARA has not received the shipment within 90 days, the accessioning paperwork will have to be resubmitted.
Boxes shipped to an FRC should be loaded in reverse numerical sequence so that the first box to be unloaded at the Center will be number 1 and others will follow in numerical order. The boxes must be sealed with filament tape. Centers do not accept shipments which are improperly marked, taped, packed, or out of numerical order. The agency shipping records has the responsibility for payment of any additional freight charges.
A. Field Offices. The most economical means available should be used to ship files to an FRC. Records may be transferred by regular United States mail for small shipments (under 100 pounds), by United Parcel Service (UPS), or rail freight for larger shipments with costs to be paid by the office making the transfer. To obtain the lowest freight rate for records shipments, enter the following description on bills of lading or other shipping documents:
"Records, Office, Old, in boxes, securely protected against opening in transit.
(The agreed or declared value of the property is hereby specifically stated by the shipper to be not exceeding 3.5 cents per pound.)"
Shipping regulations require the boxes to be sealed and addressed. Properly packed containers weigh approximately 25 to 30 pounds each.
B. National Center Offices. Prepare a USGS Form 9-064, Property Transfer Request, giving the accession number, number of boxes, room number of the records, and the FRC address, and send it to the Branch of Materials Management, Office of Facilities and Management Services. Branch personnel will make arrangements for transfer of the records to the FRC.
13. Return of Signed SF 135. Upon receipt of the records shipment, the records center personnel will verify that the boxes are packed and marked correctly. If they are, they will complete item 4 of the SF 135 and return one copy to the originating office. It is very important to maintain the SF 135, together with the corresponding box list(s), in a convenient and safe location for future reference.
14. Referrals to Stored Records (OF 11). Even though records are physically stored in FRCs, they are readily accessible to the offices that retired them. The requestor may ask for information from the records or for the loan or return of the records themselves. Optional Form 11, Reference Request - Federal Records Center, is used in requesting reference service (see Figure 5-4). Use a separate Optional Form 11 for each non-consecutive folder or box requested and complete the following items:
A. The record group and accession number of the transfer in which the records were included, as shown on the originating office copies of the SF 135, Records Transmittal and Receipt.
B. The USGS box number and location in the FRC from block 4(j) of the office copy of the SF 135. If several OF 11s are being forwarded, batch them in sequential order by location number.
C. A description of the information and/or records desired.
D. Indicate nature of withdrawal, i.e., loan, permanent, etc.
E. The name and telephone number of the requester.
F. The name and complete address of the person to whom the requested material is to be sent.
G. Retain the pink copy in your suspense file.
All Optional Form 11s are to be routed through the appropriate Division RLO to the PMO for all Headquarters offices and to the appropriate RLC for all USGS offices in the regions.
15. Return of Withdrawn Records. Records which have been withdrawn from an FRC may be returned to the Center by mailing the records, together with the pink copy of the OF 11 (which withdrew the records), to the Center.
16. Disposal of Records by Federal Records Centers.
A. When the disposal of records is pending, NA Form 13001, Notice of Intent to Destroy Records (Figure 5-5), is mailed to the USGS 90 days prior to scheduled destruction. If there is no objection during that period, the records will be destroyed as scheduled. Justification for continued retention must be submitted in writing indicating the specific need (audit, legal or other pertinent issues) and the estimated duration of continued retention of the records.
B. Contingency Records. Records scheduled for destruction after an event that had not taken place at the time of scheduling will be disposed of when the records center receives written concurrence in response to NA Form 13000, Agency Review for Contingent Disposal, or other written authorization. If the USGS does not respond to the review notice within 90 calendar days of its issuance, the records center may return the records to the USGS and reject further transfers of that series.
C. Archival Records. FRCs will send an SF 258, Request to Transfer, Approval, and Receipt of Records to National Archives of the United States (see Figure 5-6), to the pertinent bureau/office 90 days before historical records are transferred to NARA. The signed SF 258 must be returned to the address indicated by the Center 60 days before the scheduled transfer date. Custody of the records passes to NARA when the authorized bureau/office and NARA representatives have signed the SF 258.
D. All Other Records. All other USGS records held in FRCs will be disposed of with the concurrence of the office concerned by use of NA Form 13001, Notice of Intent to Destroy Records, or other written concurrence for each disposal action. If an office is notified of the eligibility of its records for disposal and fails to respond to the notification within 90 calendar days, the records will be disposed of in accordance with the appropriate authority.
17. Transfer of Records to the National Archives. Records that have been determined by the Archivist of the United States to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant preservation; i.e., appraised by NARA and identified as permanent records, are normally transferred to the National Archives when they are 30 years old. They may be transferred at any age when the originating agency no longer needs to use the records; or when agency needs will be satisfied by copies of the records or by use of the records in NARA research rooms.
A. From Agency Space. Sixty days before the scheduled date of transfer to the National Archives, the transferring office will complete items 1-5 on the Standard Form 258, Request to Transfer, Approval and Receipt of Records to National Archives of the United States, and forward the form together with the appropriate attachments to the USGS Paperwork Management Officer, 208 National Center, Reston, VA 20192. The PMO will review the form, complete item 6, and forward the package to the National Archives, Washington, DC 20408, or to the appropriate National Archives Field Branches. The remarks area of SF 258 will include the appropriate USGS records disposition schedule number. NARA will review the SF 258 to determine whether specified restrictions are acceptable and whether adequate space and equipment are available, and will return the form to the PMO with shipping or delivery instructions before the scheduled transfer date. Legal custody of the records passes to NARA when the records are received in a NARA depository.
B. From Federal Records Centers. FRCs will initiate an SF 258 and send it to the PMO 90 days before the scheduled transfer date. The PMO will approve or disapprove the SF 258 and send it to the address indicated by the center 60 days before the transfer date. Legal custody of the records passes to NARA when the PMO and NARA representatives have signed the SF 258.
CHAPTER 5 - FIGURE 5-2
(If Different Than
AREAS SERVED MAILING ADDRESS Mailing Address)
Records of separated National Personnel Records Center
military and civilian 9700 Page Boulevard
personnel and other St. Louis, MO 63132
Entire Federal Government National Personnel Records Center
(for personnel and pay Civilian Personnel Records
records of separated 111 Winnebago Street
civilian employees; other St. Louis, MO 63118
District of Columbia, Washington National Records Center 4205 Suitland Road
Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC 20409 Suitland, MD 20409
and West Virginia
Maine, Vermont, New Federal Records Center
Hampshire, Massachusetts, 380 Trapelo Road
Connecticut, and Rhode Waltham, MA 02154
New York, New Jersey, Federal Records Center
Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands Building 22,
and the Panama Canal Zone Military Ocean Terminal
Bayonne, NJ 07002
Delaware, Pennsylvania, Federal Records Center
and U.S. Court records for 5000 Wissahickon Avenue
Maryland, Virginia, and Philadelphia, PA 19144
North Carolina, South Federal Records Center
Carolina, Tennessee, 1557 St. Joseph Avenue
Mississippi, Alabama, East Point, GA 30344
Georgia, Florida, and
Illinois, Wisconsin, and Federal Records Center
Minnesota and U.S. Court 7358 South Pulaski Road
records for Indiana, Chicago, IL 60629
Michigan, and Ohio
Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio Federal Records Center
(except U.S. Court records) 3150 Springboro Road
Dayton, OH 45439
Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Federal Records Center
Missouri except greater 2312 East Bannister Road
St. Louis area Kansas City, MO 64131
Greater St. Louis Area National Personnel Records Center
(Missouri only) Civilian Personnel Records
111 Winnebago Street
St. Louis, MO 63118
Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Federal Records Center 4900 Hemphill Street
Louisiana, and New Mexico Post Office Box 6216 Building 1, Dock 1
Forth Worth, TX 76115 Fort Worth, TX
Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Federal Records Center
Montana, North Dakota, and Bldg. 48, Denver Federal Center
South Dakota P.O. Box 25307
Denver, CO 80225
Nevada (except Clark County) Federal Records Center
California (except Southern 1000 Commodore Drive
California), and American San Bruno, CA 94066
Arizona; Clark County, Federal Records Center
Nevada; and Southern 24000 Avila Road
California (Counties of San Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Luis Obispo, Kern, San
Bernardino, Santa Barbara,
Ventura, Orange, Los
Angeles, Riverside, Inyo,
Imperial, and San Diego)
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Federal Records Center
Alaska, Hawaii, and Pacific 6125 Sand Point Way
Ocean area (except Samoa) Seattle, WA 98115
See printed handbook for Figures 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 5-5, and 5-6.
SECTION E - ANNUAL SUMMARY OF RECORDS HOLDINGS
l. Annual Summary of Records Holdings, USGS Form 9-1569. All offices maintaining any file material will submit an annual report of records destroyed and retired during the fiscal year, the number of cubic feet of records on hand at the close of each fiscal year and related information. This report will be made on USGS Form 9-1569, Annual Summary of Records Holdings (see Figure 5-7). A Table of Cubic Foot Equivalents is provided in Figure 5-8 for calculating volume of records to be reported on the Form 9-1569.
2. Submission Instructions. Each files custodian at headquarters will submit a report for their files station on USGS Form 9-1569 to the appropriate Division RLO immediately after the close of the fiscal year. Files custodians in the field will submit the 9-1569 to their RLC who will forward it to the appropriate Division RLO. Division RLOs will prepare two consolidated reports, one for headquarters records and one for field records, for submission to the PMO.
See printed handbook for Figures 5-7 and 5-8, and Appendices A, B and C.
USGS RECORDS DISPOSITION SCHEDULES
The USGS General Records Disposition Schedule covers series of records that are either administrative in nature or are USGS mission-oriented records common to all Survey organizational elements.
The files in these general records series are administrative in nature and common to most offices. They can be described in a general manner with the disposal of the records being governed by the disposition instructions. Division-specific records disposition schedules have also been established for the Geologic, National Mapping, and Water Resources Divisions' program-oriented records.
Information on any records series created subsequent to the issuance of these schedules must be submitted to the USGS Paperwork Management Officer so that disposition authority may be obtained from NARA.
Keep in mind that some of the records created or collected by your individual office will be subject to the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a). Records subject to the Privacy Act are those which contain information which is retrieved by the name of the individual or by some identifying number, symbol, of other identifying particular assigned to the individual.
Each Division is responsible for maintaining all of its records subject to the Privacy Act with appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to insure the confidentiality of the records and to protect against the possibility of harm to any individual on whom information is maintained. This applies to Privacy Act records in both manual and automated systems. (For further details see 319-1-H, USGS Guide for Handling Privacy Act Records.)
When Privacy Act records are disposed of by destruction, particular attention must be given to the method employed. 36 CFR 1228.74 requires destruction of these records only as prescribed below:
A. Records may be burned, shredded, or pulped within the organization.
B. Records may be pulped, macerated, or shredded by a wastepaper contractor; however, a Federal employee must witness the destruction.
C. Federal Records Center personnel will handle and witness the destruction of records in their possession.