Site menu:




We are requesting comments on a draft NARA Bulletin entitled “Guidance on Managing Electronic Messages.”

This draft Bulletin applies to text messaging, chat/instant messaging, messaging functionality in social media tools or apps, voice messaging, and similar forms of electronic messaging systems. The Bulletin addresses the new definition for electronic messages and other issues covered in the recent amendments to the Federal Records Act. Overall, it provides basic records management guidance for electronic messages.

NARA Bulletins are designed to provide fundamental guidance to Federal agencies who must then determine the most appropriate ways to incorporate the guidance into their work.

Please make your comments about the draft Bulletin by June 5, 2015. We will review all the comments we receive. Thank you.

This is a reminder that NARA is holding an open public meeting on Thursday, May 21, 2015, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the McGowan Theater (basement level), National Archives and Records Administration downtown building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW to solicit comments on General Records Schedule 6.1: Email Managed under a Capstone Approach.  This is in conjunction with its publication in the Federal Register.

NARA will now also be live-streaming this event for convenience of interested participants and those who may not be in the DC area.  Participants can access the event at the below link.  Questions and comments during the event are encouraged on the live stream page.  Participants can also send questions or comments in advance by 9:00am on the day of the event to

If attending in person, please enter on the Constitution Avenue side of the building, the “Special Events” entrance (which is actually the exit for the general public). Registration information and other additional information on this meeting is published in a separate Federal Register Public meeting Notice.

A copy of the review package comprised of the proposed records disposition schedule, accompanying FAQ, and appraisal memoranda, can be downloaded (.pdf).  To aid in public understanding of this GRS, we also created a White Paper (.pdf) that provides additional background information on the Capstone approach, appraisal of records at NARA, and the development of this general records schedule. So that we can insure all comments are received and considered for the Federal Register comment period, comments must be sent to no later than June 1, 2015.

Our GRS Team continues to work on updating the General Records Schedules. However, they also will be providing updates on particular questions that they receive. Consider this your GRS Tip of the Month!

Whatever happened to GRS items for electronic mail and word processing files?

NARA enacted a new policy in 1998: all new records schedules must include two items covering “electronic mail and word processing system copies…used solely to generate a recordkeeping copy” of agency records. These items—one for “copies that have no further administrative value after the recordkeeping copy is made,” the other for “copies used for dissemination, revision, or updating” the record copy—enabled disposal of multiple iterations of the same document littering agency electronic servers. NARA applied this new policy to itself, too, and appended these items to most (but not all) GRS schedules when it published GRS Transmittal 8 later that same year.

This requirement was never very popular with either agency records schedulers or NARA appraisers. The items’ sheer repetitiveness made it obvious early on that they were ideal candidates for GRS items. NARA Bulletin 2006-04 rescinded the 1998 policy. These items were removed and replaced by GRS 20, items 13 and 14, in GRS Transmittal 22 in 2010. The GRS 20 items were in turn superseded by GRS 4.3, item 040, in GRS Transmittal 23. The GRS now covers any non-recordkeeping copy in an electronic format.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Why attend?

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

Who should attend?

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


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

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

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

Cost:  None

Entry:  Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue

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

Part I: Approximately 80 minutes

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

Part II: Approximately 75 minutes

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

May 2015
« Apr    


Subscribe to Email Updates