Electronic Records ITA Record Control Schedules

Federal Register

Glossary of Terms

What is Records Management?

What are recordkeeping requirements?

What is a record series?

What is a record?

What is a records control schedule?

How long should records be retained?

What are personal papers?
What are vital records?

Resources....
NARA Records Management 

 

Introduction

The International Trade Administration, Office of Organization and Management Support oversees the ITA Records Management Program.  The Records Management Officer provides advise and guidance to ITA staff at Headquarters, Domestic Field and the Overseas Post, conducts inspections of official records, prepares and updates records control schedules (RCS), clears record schedules with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), maintains an ITA records database of all transfers of  records to NARA and approves records disposal.  Federal employees are responsible for making and keeping records of their work. Federal employees have three basic obligations regarding Federal records: (1) Create records needed to do the business of their agency, record decisions and actions taken, and document activities for which they are responsible, (2) Take care of records so that information can be found when needed. This means setting up good directories and files, and filing materials (in whatever format) regularly and carefully in a manner that allows them to be safely stored and efficiently retrieved when necessary and (3) Carry out the disposition of records under their control in accordance with agency records schedules and Federal regulations. 

Policy and Guidance

Records Management Forms

Managing Your Electronic Records
ITA Homepage DOC Homepage Contact Us
Person Finder

What is records management?

There are many, though similar, definitions of records management. One common one is "the field of management responsible for the systematic control of the creation, maintenance, use, and disposition of records." From the Federal perspective, it is the planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting, and other managerial activities involved in records creation, maintenance, use, and disposition in order to achieve adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transactions of the Federal Government and effective and economical management of agency operations (44 U.S.C. 2901).

Records management addresses the life cycle of records, i.e., the period of time that records are in the custody of Federal agencies. The life cycle usually consists of three stages:

Tools for maintaining and using records include file plans, indexes, controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, data dictionaries, and access and security procedures. The main tool used to manage the disposition of records is the records schedule.  

Top of Page

What are recordkeeping requirements?

"Recordkeeping requirements" are defined as all statements in statutes, regulations, and agency directives or authoritative issuances, that provide general and specific requirements for Federal agency personnel on particular records to be created and maintained by the agency (36 CFR 1220.14). Recordkeeping requirements should be outlined in procedural manuals and other issuances that specify which records need to be included in agency files or other recordkeeping systems. Clearly articulated recordkeeping requirements are essential for creating adequate and proper documentation. For more information, consult Agency Recordkeeping Requirements: A Management Guide.

Top of Page

What is a record?

Records are defined in various statues, including the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act. The definition that follows is from the Federal Records Act that governs agencies' records management responsibilities.

Records include all books, papers, maps, photographs, machine-readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of the data in them (44 U.S.C. 3301).  Many of the key terms, phrases, and concepts in this statutory definition of records are defined in 36 CFR Part 1222.1

Top of Page

What is a record series?

A series is the basic unit for organizing and controlling files. It is a group of files or documents kept together (either physically or intellectually) because they relate to a particular subject or function, result from the same activity, document a specific type of transaction, take a particular physical form, or have some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, maintenance, or use (36 CFR 1220.14 ). 

Each record series must be scheduled for appropriate disposition. The series concept is a flexible one, and programs should create series by organizing documents in ways that facilitate management of the records throughout their life cycle. For example, each record series in hard copy should be physically separated from all other record series. Electronic records should be managed in ways that link records to their disposition authority, within the context of a recordkeeping system.

Top of Page

How long should records be retained?  

The retention period for records depends upon their legal, fiscal, administrative, and/or historical value.  There is not a single retention period for all records.  Some may be destroyed after a short period, others must be retained for many years, and still others will be transferred to the National Archives because they possess sufficient historical value to warrant permanent retention.  The determination of the appropriate retention period is the result of the appraisal process that takes place during the development and approval of the records schedule. 

What is a records control schedule?

  A records schedule is a document that provides the legal authority for the final disposition, including destruction, of recurring or nonrecurring records of an office, component, or complete agency.  The records on the schedule should be described with sufficient detail so that it is clear which records are covered but with sufficient generality that minor changes in the records will not require amending the schedule.  The records schedule is developed by the program office that has responsibility for the records in conjunction with the operating unit records management officer.  The final approval authority is NARA.  The records schedules for the Office of the Secretary are at www.osec.doc.gov/oebam/recmgmt/html.  

Top of Page

What are personal papers?

Personal papers are those of a private or unofficial nature pertaining solely to the employee’s personal affairs.  The employee should minimize the volume of personal papers that are maintained in the office, and personal papers should be filed separately so that they can be clearly distinguished from the records of the office.  

Top of Page

What are vital records?

Vital records are records that are essential to the continued functioning or reconstitution of the Department and its operating units during and after and emergency.  Vital records are divided into two categories:

Vital records are duplicate records created and maintained solely in case of an emergency.  They may be destroyed when no longer needed because they become outdated or are replaced by more current records.  Procedures for the creation and maintenance of vital records and their identification are in the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) for each operating unit. 

Top of Page


For additional Information on Records Management, contact Nina Harris at 202-482-3585 or e-mail Nina.Harris@mail.doc.gov