Records management is the planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting and other managerial activities related to the lifecycle of records, which are conducted to achieve adequate and proper documentation of federal policies and transactions, and effective and economical management of Agency operations.

Records Defined

A federal record is an information resource, in any format, that is:

  • created in the course of business,
  • received for action, or
  • needed to document Agency activities.

Records are "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 data in them." (44 U.S.C. § 3301)

Records Lifecycle

The records lifecycle is the life span of a record from its creation or receipt to its final disposition.

Records are maintained and used throughout two lifecycle phases:

  • Active records are used to conduct current Agency business and are maintained in office space and equipment.
  • Inactive records are not needed for current business and are generally maintained in less expensive off-site storage.

A record begins as a document that is created or received. If that document meets the definition of a record, it must be captured in a recordkeeping system. When the record is not needed for current Agency business, it is closed and optionally retired to off-site storage. Finally, the record is either destroyed (if it is temporary) or transferred to the National Archives (if it is permanent).

Records Trustworthiness

Federal laws and regulations require agencies to create and maintain trustworthy records in order to preserve the rights of the government and its citizens and promote quality decision-making and efficient business practices. A record is trustworthy when it is:

  • reliable – a full and accurate representation of the transactions, activities or facts to which they attest and can be depended upon in the course of subsequent transactions or activities.
  • authentic – protected against unauthorized addition, deletion, alteration, use and concealment.
  • with integrity – complete and unaltered.
  • usable – able to be located, retrieved, presented and interpreted.

An office must ensure a record's trustworthiness by maintaining its:

  • content – the information contained within the record itself that was produced by the creator of the record;
  • context – cross-references to related records that show the organizational, functional and operational circumstances about the record, which will vary depending upon the business, legal and regulatory requirements of the business activity; and
  • structure – the physical and logical format of the record and the relationships between the data elements.

FAA must be able to demonstrate these characteristics for any record. See the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) for more information on trustworthy records.

Records Responsibilities

A brief description of the FAA roles referenced in this manual
Role Responsibilities
Agency Records Officer The Agency Records Officer (ARO) oversees the Agency records management program and provides guidance on adequate and proper recordkeeping.
Records Management Officer Each office has a Records Management Officer (RMO) coordinating its records management program.
Records Contact Records contacts assist the RMO in implementing an office's records management program.
Records Custodian Any Agency employee or contractor with responsibilities over a particular set of records is a records custodian. A records custodian must keep the RMO and the records contact informed of any issues regarding the records in their custody.
Agency Staff All Agency staff must follow FAA's records management policies, procedures and guidance.

Additional guidelines on how to meet these requirements are available from the FAA' Records Officer and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

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