Adapted from A Federal Records Management Glossary. National Archives and Records Administration, 1993.

D

DATA
Symbols, or representations, of facts or ideas that can be communicated, interpreted, or processed by manual or automated means. Often associated with electronic data or with statistics or measurements. See also INFORMATION, MACRODATA, MICRODATA.
DATA ADMINISTRATION
The comprehensive management of an organization's data, such as by ensuring consistent definitions of data elements and coordinating the development of data dictionaries. See also RECORDS MANAGEMENT.
DATA BASE
In electronic records, a set of data, consisting of at least one file or of a group of integrated files, usually stored in one location and made available to several users at the same time for various applications.
DATA BASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (DBMS)
A software system used to access and retrieve data stored in a data base.
DATA DICTIONARY
An organized collection of information about the definition, structure, and use of data in an organization.
DATA ELEMENT
In electronic records, a combination of characters or bytes referring to one separate item of information, such as name, address, or age.
DATA FIELD
A specific area of an electronic record allocated for a particular category of data, usually one data element, such as a name. See also LOGICAL RECORD, RECORD LAYOUT.
DATA FILE
In electronic records: (1) An organized collection of data, usually arranged in logical records that are stored together and treated as a unit by a computer.
(2) Related numeric, textual, or graphic information that is organized in a strictly prescribed form and format. Used in contrast to text documents that may be recorded on electronic media. See also TEXT DOCUMENTS.
DATA PROCESSING (DP)
Systematically performing a series of actions with data. May be done by manual, mechanical, electromechanical, or electronic (primarily computer) means. Often used interchangeably with automatic data processing (ADP). See also AUTOMATIC DATA PROCESSING (ADP), INFORMATION RESOURCES MANAGEMENT (IRM).
DATA RECORDS
See DATA, ELECTRONIC RECORDS.
DATA SET
A group of related records that are organized and treated as a unit. Also used interchangeably with data file.
DAY FILES
See READING FILES.
DEBUGGING
The process of detecting and eliminating mistakes in computer programs or other software. Also called troubleshooting.
DECIMAL FILING SYSTEM
A system for classifying records by subject, developed in units of 10 and coded for arrangement in numerical order.
DECLASSIFICATION
The process or result of determining that information no longer requires classification for national security reasons. See also CLASSIFICATION (3), CLASSIFIED INFORMATION.
DELETING
The process of permanently removing, erasing, or obliterating recorded information from a medium, especially a magnetic tape or disk, which then may be reused. In electronic records, sometimes called scratching or erasing. See also DESTRUCTION.
DENSITY
(1) In electronic records, the compactness of data stored on a computer medium, such as a disk or tape, or displayed on a computer screen. See also RECORDING DENSITY.
(2) In microform records, the light-absorbing or light-reflecting quality of microimages. See also BACKGROUND DENSITY.
DEPOSITORY
A place where records are kept and made available for use. Also called repository. See also ARCHIVES (3), RECORDS CENTER.
DESCRIPTION
(1) In records management, the process of giving a written account of the contents and characteristics of a record series or system.
(2) In archives agency, the process of preparing finding aids. See also INVENTORY (3).
DESIGN DRAWINGS
See ARCHITECTURAL AND ENGINEERING RECORDS.
DESTRUCTION
In records management, the major type of disposal action. Methods of destroying records include selling or salvaging the record medium and burning, pulping, shredding, macerating, or discarding with other waste materials. See also DELETING, DISPOSAL, DISPOSITION, EMERGENCY DESTRUCTION.
DEVELOPING
A film-processing step that makes visible the latent image of an exposed photographic emulsion.
DIAZO FILM
In microform records, film containing images produced by exposing an emulsion of diazonium salts to ultraviolet light and then ammonia fumes for the purpose of copying a master microform. See also MICROFILM.
DIGITAL
Representing data as discrete variables in the form of numerical characters, as in a digital clock or a digital computer. See also ANALOG, COMPUTER.
DIGITAL ARCHITECTURAL AND ENGINEERING RECORDS
See ARCHITECTURAL AND ENGINEERING RECORDS, ELECTRONIC RECORDS.
DIGITAL AUDIOTAPE (DAT)
See AUDIOVISUAL RECORDS, ELECTRONIC RECORDS.
DIGITAL CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS
See CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS, ELECTRONIC RECORDS.
DIRECTIVE
A written instruction communicating policy and/or procedure in the form of orders, regulations, bulletins, circulars, handbooks, manuals, notices, numbered memorandums, and similar issuances.
DISASTER
An unexpected occurance inflicting widespread destruction and distress and having long-term adverse effects on Agency operations. Each Agency defines what a long-term adverse effect is in relation to its most critical program.
DISASTER PREVENTION AND RECOVERY
See VITAL RECORDS.
DISCLOSURE-FREE EXTRACT
A copy of a record that excludes all exempted information; that is, information deleted or otherwise concealed under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or the Privacy Act. Also called a public use file. See also ADMINISTRATIVELY CONTROLLED INFORMATION.
DISPOSABLE RECORDS
See TEMPORARY RECORDS.
DISPOSAL
(1) The actions taken regarding temporary records after their retention periods expire and consisting usually of destruction or occasionally of donation. See also DESTRUCTION, DISPOSING OF, DISPOSITION (1), DONATION (1), FINAL DISPOSITION, TEMPORARY RECORDS.
(2) Also, when so specified, the actions taken regarding nonrecord materials when no longer needed, especially their destruction. See also DISPOSITION (2).
DISPOSAL AUTHORITY
See DISPOSITION AUTHORITY.
DISPOSAL LIST
A document providing one-time approval for the disposal of records no longer accumulating and having no further value. Now incorporated into an SF 115. See also DISPOSAL (1), RECORDS SCHEDULE, STANDARD FORM 115.
DISPOSAL SCHEDULE
See RECORDS SCHEDULE.
DISPOSING OF
Carrying out disposal, which includes either the destruction or the donation of temporary records but not the transfer of permanent records to the National Archives. See also DISPOSAL (1), FINAL DISPOSITION.
DISPOSITION
(1) The actions taken regarding records no longer needed for current Government business. These actions include transfer to Agency storage facilities or Federal records centers, transfer from one Federal Agency to another, transfer of permanent records to the National Archives, and disposal of temporary records. Disposition is the third stage of the records life cycle. See also DISPOSAL (1), FINAL DISPOSITION, LIFE CYCLE OF RECORDS, RETENTION PERIOD, RETIREMENT, SCHEDULED RECORDS, SCHEDULING, TRANSFER, UNSCHEDULED RECORDS.
(2) The actions taken regarding nonrecord materials when no longer needed, including screening and destruction. See also DISPOSITION INSTRUCTIONS (2), SCHEDULING.
DISPOSITION AUTHORITY
(1) Legal approval empowering an Agency to transfer permanent records to the National Archives or carry out the disposal of temporary records. Must be obtained from NARA and also, for certain records proposed as temporary, from the General Accounting Office (GAO).
(2) The Agency's approval of disposition instructions for nonrecord materials.
DISPOSITION INSTRUCTIONS
(1) Directions for cutting off records and carrying out their disposition in compliance with NARA's regulations.
(2) Directions for screening nonrecord materials and carrying out their disposal when no longer needed by the Agency.
DISPOSITION ITEM
See ITEM (2).
DISPOSITION PROGRAM
Policies and practices designed to achieve effective and efficient disposition of records by scheduling them, ensuring their proper storage, and ensuring the prompt disposal of temporary records and the timely transfer of permanent records to the National Archives. Essential elements include issuing an up-to-date program directive; developing, implementing, and maintaining an accurate, current, and comprehensive records schedule; properly training those taking part in disposition activities; publicizing the program; and evaluating the results. See also RECORDS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM.
DISPOSITION SCHEDULE
See RECORDS SCHEDULE.
DISPOSITION STANDARD
See RETENTION PERIOD.
DOCKET
A docket serves as the repository for the collection of documents or information related to a particular Agency action or activity.
DOCUMENT
(1) Recorded information regardless of physical form or characteristics. Often used interchangeably with record.
(2) An individual record or an item of nonrecord materials or of personal papers. See also NONRECORD MATERIALS, PERSONAL PAPERS, RECORDS.
DOCUMENTARY
In audiovisual records: (1) A nonfiction motion picture film having a theme or viewpoint but drawing its material from actual events and using editing and sound to enhance the theme. (2) Still photographs having a theme or viewpoint but showing actual situations realistically. See also AUDIOVISUAL RECORDS.
DOCUMENTARY MATERIALS
A collective term for records, nonrecord materials, and personal papers that refers to all media on which information is recorded, regardless of the nature of the medium or the method or circumstances of recording. See also FILES, MEDIUM, NONRECORD MATERIALS, PERSONAL PAPERS, RECORDED INFORMATION, RECORDS.
DOCUMENTATION
(1) The act or process of substantiating by recording actions and/or decisions. See also ADEQUACY OF DOCUMENTATION.
(2) See DOCUMENT (1).
(3) Records required to plan, develop, operate, maintain, and use electronic records. Included are systems specifications, file specifications, codebooks, file layouts, user guides, and output specifications. See also CODEBOOK, MASTER FILES, PROCESSING FILES, USER GUIDE.
DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS
See RECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS.
DOCUMENTATION STANDARDS
See RECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS.
DONATION
(1) In records management, the transfer of temporary records from a Federal Agency to an eligible person or organization after the authorized retention period has expired. Requires NARA's approval. See also DISPOSAL (1).
(2) In archives agency, the transfer from private sources to the National Archives of documents, including audiovisual materials, appropriate for preservation by the Government as evidence of its organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and transactions.
DRY SILVER FILM
In microform records, a nongelatin silver film developed by applying heat rather than a liquid. Also called dry-process silver film. In contrast to silver gelatin film, it is of nonarchival quality. See also SILVER GELATIN FILM.
DRYING
A film-processing step of removing water from photographic material.
DUMPING
In electronic records: (1) The process of copying recorded information from internal memory to an external storage medium, such as a magnetic tape or a printout, for backup, analysis, or some other purpose.
(2) The process of transferring recorded information from one storage device to another, such as from a disk to a tape. See also BACKING UP, PRINTOUT.
DUPLEX-NUMERIC FILING SYSTEM
A system for arranging records by adding assigned numbers associated with subordinate headings to those associated with main headings. For example, 2 Communications; 2-1 Mail; and 2-1-1 Postage.
DUPLICATE
A copy of a paper document, microform, or magnetic tape or disk. See also USE COPIES.
DUPLICATE ORIGINAL FILM
In microform records, either of two camera films exposed at the same time. See also CAMERA MICROFILM.