Effective and proper management of records ensures that:

  • Complete records are maintained.
  • Records can be located when needed.
  • Records, nonrecord materials, and personal papers are maintained separately.
  • Identification and retention of permanent records are facilitated.

Proper records maintenance also contributes to economy of operations by facilitating records disposition. This section covers general records maintenance policies and practices, regardless of media, and several aspects of records maintenance that apply specifically to paper-based records. The next section specifies additional requirements for special records; i.e., records other than traditional paper text.

A. General

Questions to ask are:

  1. Has the program or office established standards and procedures for classifying, indexing, filing, and retrieving records and made them available to all employees?
  2. Is access to all records, regardless of media, limited to authorized personnel?
  3. Are cutoffs (file breaks) clearly defined and implemented for each records series?
  4. Are permanent series of records identified and maintained separately from temporary records?
  5. Has the program or office established and implemented regulations or procedures for the storage of confidential business information (CBI), Privacy Act, and other restricted records?

B. Paper-based Records

Questions to ask are:

  1. Has each office designated official file locations (file stations)?
  2. Is a file plan for each series of records maintained at each file station?
  3. Does each office have procedures for filing, charging out, and refiling its records?
  4. Are file drawers and folders labeled correctly?

For further information, see the following NARA publications: "Files Maintenance," "Files Operations," "Subject Filing," and "Checklist for Evaluating Recordkeeping Practices in Your Office."