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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey

General Records Disposition Schedule

Prepared by the Geospatial Information Office


May 2009

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S.Geological Survey

Foreword and Table of Contents | Record of Posted Changes | Information on Official Records | How to use Records Disposition Schedules | Changes in this Issuance | Chapter 100 | Chapter 200 | Chapter 300 | Chapter 400 | Chapter 500 | Chapter 600 | Chapter 700 | Chapter 800 | Chapter 900 | Chapter 1000 | Chapter 1100 | Chapter 1200 | Chapter 1300 | Appendix 1 | Appendix 2

How to use Records Disposition Schedules

Follow these rules for applying this records disposition schedule to bureau records:
  1. Use the table of contents to find a particular category of records.

  2. Use the subject index in Appendix 2 to match records with records schedule items.

  3. Remember that items in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) General Records Disposition Schedule are general because they apply in large part to records common to most USGS offices.

  4. If you have records that are definitely not covered by this schedule or by the program mission-specific schedule for your discipline, contact your discipline or regional Records Liaison Officer, or the USGS Records Management Officer. (For names, addresses, and telephone numbers see

Three important objectives of a records disposition program are to:

To accomplish these objectives the USGS developed this records disposition schedule for the bureau's administrative records and the mission-specific records schedules for each science discipline (Biology, Geography, Geology, and the Water Resources) and a separate schedule for the Special Geologic Studies Group records. Shortly, a Geospatial Information Office schedule will be approved and in place. All of these schedules are approved by the Archivist of the United States and are the legal authority for disposition of bureau records. A records disposition schedule provides (1) mandatory instructions on what to do with records (and non-record materials) no longer needed for current business and (2) the authority to dispose of recurring or non-recurring records.

The schedule contains a description of each series of records with instructions for disposition of the records when they are no longer needed for current business. Records disposition is the action employees must take as shown under "disposition instructions" on the records schedule to either transfer records to a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Federal Records Center (FRC) for temporary storage or directly to NARA's National Archives for permanent retention or to destroy the records after a designated time period.

It is important to remember that an FRC keeps records temporarily and provides the USGS with 3-months notice when it is time to destroy them or in the case of "permanent records" transfer them to NARA. All records sent to NARA as permanent accessions are preserved forever in the USGS archives for historical purposes.

To apply the records disposition instructions, employees or offices must first develop a USGS Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan (a "files plan") covering the records of the employee or the office (see Figure 1 below). The purpose of the files plan is to make filing and reference easier, to have all USGS offices using the same official filing system set up in accordance with the records disposition schedules, and to facilitate the timely disposition of records in accordance with NARA regulations.

Creating a Files Plan

Follow these steps to develop a files plan, to set up and maintain office files, and to take appropriate and timely disposition actions:
  1. Begin with a complete inventory or list of the current fiscal year's files.

  2. Use a pencil to annotate by each file on your list the item number from the USGS General Records Disposition Schedule that best fits the file. (Use of the schedule's Table of Contents and/or the Subject Index will help you quickly locate the file's correct record item and page it is located on). Read the full description following the item number to ensure that it is the best match for your file.

  3. When applicable, use the appropriate mission-specific records disposition schedules for the science disciplines or the Special Geologic Studies Group schedule.

  4. Remember that the schedule provides a general description of the records. Employees may need to read the entire description for each series to determine the most appropriate series number for each item in the inventory. As you look at the series and disposition instructions, keep in mind from a business side how long the records will be needed. Do not select a series with a disposition that may be too short and thus would require destruction of records before they become inactive to the employee or the office. If the office has unique records which definitely do not fit anywhere under the schedules' descriptions, contact your discipline or regional Records Liaison Officer (

  5. Complete the files plan by arranging the item numbers for the files in numerical order and adding corresponding titles and dispositions from the records schedules. Use USGS Forms 9-1933, Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan, and 9-1933-A, Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan (Continuation), for this purpose. The form is available in Word Table format at or access the form through the USGS Web Business Application Web Site at Click on the Lotus Electronic Forms and log-in. Go to the Forms and click on the USGS "9" forms. Scroll down to the Form 9-1933. For dynamic and detailed, longer file plans it is suggested that employees use the Word version of the Form 9-1933 which has more flexibility and accommodates changes to the form more easily.

  6. When completing the files plan, use the main heading(s) as shown in the records schedule for each series of records held in the office. Then choose the appropriate item numbers and titles under those heading(s) to list the files. For example, if the office has files under the 100 Series, list the headings for that series (100, 101) and then the files under that series 101-04 and 101-06 as shown in Figure 1 below.

  7. Use care in recording the exact item number, e.g., 101-04b, and corresponding disposal instructions as shown on the records schedule.
    Figure 1.
    Form 9-1933
    (May 1989)

    U.S. Geological Survey



    March 16, 2009

    2. PREPARED BY (Typed name of files custodian)

    John Smith


    Geographic Information Office, MS 000, Reston, VA 20192


    //signed// Appropriate Records Liaison Officer


    (Insert number of applicable records disposition schedule item. If item cannot be found, enter NONE.)





    (Insert complete disposition instructions for item including cut-off, retirement, and destruction actions.)


    100 Organizational, History, Administrative Management, and Commissions/Councils/Boards/Committee Records
    101 Organizational, History, Administrative Management, and Commissions/Councils/Boards/Committee Records
    101-04 Temporary Commissions, Councils, Boards, Committees, and Conference Records
    101-04b Agency Committees and Conference Records
    101-04b(1) USGS Executive Leadership Team
    • Correspondence
    • Meetings
    PERMANENT. Transfer to FRC 5 years after termination. Transfer to NARA in 5-year blocks 20 years after termination.
    101-04b(2) Records Liaison Officer meeting notes, handouts, and related materials. Destroy when 3 years old or when no longer needed for reference.
    200 Chief Information Officer, Security Program, Information Resources Management, Telecommunications, Computer, and Electronic Records
    201 Federal Chief Information Officer's Files
    201-03 IT Capital Investment Records
    • BY 2011
    • BY 2010
    • Portfolio Management Guidance
    • Portfolio Performance
    • USGS Budget Submissions
    Cutoff at the end of the fiscal year. Destroy when 7 years old or when no longer needed, whichever is later.
    204 Security Program Support Records
    204-08 Security Program General
    • Protecting Sensitvie Information (Personally Identifiable Information (PII))
    Cutoff at the end of the fiscal year. Destroy 3 years after cutoff
    207 Records Management, Forms, and Information Collection Budget Files
    207-02 Records Management Files
    • Copies of SF-135s of program records at the Washington National Records Center
    Destroy 6 years after the related records are destroyed or transferred to NARA, whichever is applicable. (Keep indefinitely for reference purposes.)
    300 Administrative Support Records
    301 USGS.GOV Website
    301-02 USGS.GOV Reports, Statistics, Policies, Guidance, and Planning Records
    301-02a USGS.GOV Reports
    • Web log analysis reports
    Cutoff at the end of the fiscal year. Destroy when 3 years old or when no longer needed, whichever is later.
    309 Records Common to Most Offices
    309-01 Files Maintenance and Disposition Plans Destroy upon receipt of a revised plan or discontinuance of the plan.
    800 Acquisition, Supply, and Grant Records
    801 Acquisition Files
    801-01 Acquisition Files
    801-01e Charge Card Purchase Records
    801-01e(1) Cardholder/Approving Official Records (in locked cabinet, room XXX)
    • SMITH, John
    Destroy 6 years 3 months after close of the fiscal year in which final payment is made.

  8. Note that main headings such as "Acquisition Files" are only descriptive and do not have corresponding disposition instructions.

  9. List all series and item numbers in numerical order on the files plan.

  10. The files plan is a guide or map to the files. Be sure that it is well-formatted and not cluttered so that it is easy to follow in retrieving and returning folders.

    It is suggested that file dividers be used for the main headings and subheadings, 100, 101, 200, 201, 201-01, 300, 302, and 302-02, etc. Each divider should have the appropriate number and title, e.g., 100 and 101 Organizational, History, Administrative Management, and Commissions/Councils/Boards/Committee Records, 104, Temporary Commissions, Councils, Boards, Committees, and Conference Records. In addition, the disposition of all of the records filed under that number should be on a label on the right hand side of the divider. However, if space constraints are in place and the office chooses not to use dividers, then offices may just use the file headings and disposition labels on the file folders themselves.

  11. Ensure that all folder labels include the item number, file title, and the fiscal year on the label. As mentioned above, if dividers are not being used, then folders should also have the disposition instructions on the right hand side of the folder. Abbreviations are allowed. Example of a label:

    Left hand side of folder label:

    309-01            File Plan                  FY XX

    Right hand side of folder label (if divered are not being used; otherwise this information would be retained on the dividers separating the files):

    Destroy upon recipt of a revised plan or discontinuance of the plan.
  12. Use a separate folder for each separate item number.

  13. Arrange your dividers and file folders in the filing cabinet in the same order as they appear on the files plan.

  14. Maintain an up-to-date files plan to ensure that all files are accounted for and that cited disposition authorities are appropriate. Forward the original of the files plan to the appropriate discipline or regional Records Liaison Officer for review and approval. The Records Liaison Officer will maintain a copy of the signed files plan. The originator of the files plan is responsible for maintaining the record copy of the files plan. The plan must be readily available to facilitate proper filing and retrieval of documents.

  15. Leave about 4 inches of working space in each file drawer.

  16. Cross-reference when multiple subjects are involved and any subject may be useful in retrieving a document. To do this, annotate the item being cross-filed. (For example, if you have a committee file and you want to cross-file a document from the committee meeting with a subject file that the document falls under. In the upper right hand corner mark the document 101-04b(2) X-file 201-03, xerox, and place a copy in each place - 101-04b(2) and 201-03 files.

  17. File bulky, oversized material separately in suitable storage equipment and annotate your file plan with the location of the files.

  18. If any of files contain sensitive or personally identifiable information (PII), then the files should be clearly marked with a privacy act notice - and locked in order to limit access to the files.

  19. If files need to be temporarily removed from their folders ensure that a marker, such as a piece of colored xerox paper annotated with the file name, date, and person who pulled the files, is placed in the folder of the removed files to ensure that the files are returned. When returned, remove the colored piece of paper from the files.

  20. Review your files plan at the end of each fiscal year and take appropriate action in accordance with the disposition instructions of each file series. Prepare your new files plan for the next fiscal year's files. If the files have not substantially changed, and signature of the appropriate Records Liaison Officer had been received, it is not necessary to get the new fiscal year file plan signed again. Annotate on the files plan in block 5 that signature was received by (name and date) of the person who signed.


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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
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Last modification: 12-May-2017@10:22
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