This chapter discusses the procedures that must be followed to retire records to the FRC. Specifically, this chapter provides step-by-step instructions for:

  • Preparing records for retirement
  • Boxing the records for shipment
  • Completing the forms to retire records
  • Shipping the records to the FRC

The information in this publication pertains only to paper records. If you would like to retire microfiche, maps, electronic, audiovisual, or other non-paper materials, contact your Program Office, Region, or Center Records Officer.

Preparing Records For Retirement

Preparing records for retirement is the first and most important step in the entire process. The records you retire will serve you or your successors at the Agency as the official historical record of the actions, activities, or decisions that you document. Because the records may be needed to understand, evaluate, or defend those actions, the amount of time spent in preparing them will be repaid many times over if you need to retrieve records at a later date. When preparing the records for shipment, take time to organize them by doing the following:

  • Screen the records to remove extra copies of documents and non-record items such as reference materials. If you have multiple identical copies of a document or publication, retire the original (or clearest copy if no original exists) and dispose of the remaining copies.
  • Place records in either letter- or legal-size accordion or manila folders. Accordion folders are preferable. If the records are not in folders, the boxes will not be accepted for retirement.
  • Label each folder with a title to indicate the records it contains. If you follow two general rules in labeling folders you will be able to retrieve the exact folder you need without unnecessary confusion. First, give each folder a unique identifier. Second, label each folder with a meaningful file name. For example, use "General Correspondence: FY, 1996," not simply "Correspondence" as the folder title.

    Note: Only one FAA records series can go to the FRC in each accession. An accession is made up of one or more boxes.

  • Place files in the boxes in their proper order. "Proper order" depends on the file scheme used, and should correspond to the filing system used in your office. For subject files, the order is usually alphabetical. Records that are filed using a numbering scheme (contract numbers for example) should be retired in numerical order. If an alphanumeric system is used, retire the files according to the file plan. Letter-size folders should be placed in the boxes so that they are ordered from front to back. Legal-size folders should be placed in the box so that they are in order from left to right.

The decisions on folder titles and record arrangement are yours and should be made to facilitate easy access. Bear in mind that once your records have been retired to the FRC, your ability to identify records for recall (and the FRC's ability to locate the records you request) will depend on how carefully you have labeled and arranged the files.

Boxing Records for Shipment

Once the records have been prepared, the next step is boxing them for shipment. Records are boxed and retired to the FRC in groups called accessions. Accessions consist of one or more boxes, all containing the same type of records (or record series) with the same date for final disposition. For example, if you plan to retire both correspondence files and contracts, the records should be retired as two separate accessions because the record series and the dispositions are different.

Obtaining the Boxes

To retire records to the FRC you must use Records Retirement Boxes (GSA# 8115-00-117-8249), which may be purchased by the Supply Card Holder in your program. (Call GSA at 800-525-8027.) This is the only size box the Federal Records Center will accept for records storage. The cost is approximately $1.60 per box. Assembly instructions are provided with the boxes. Boxes measure approximately 15" x 12" x 10" and hold 1,800 cubic inches or 1.04 cubic feet. Use one of the following conversion factors to estimate the number of boxes needed:

  • Usually about 15 inches of letter-size material fit in one box. Records in one letter-size file cabinet drawer usually fit into two boxes.
  • Twelve inches of legal-size material fit in one box. Records in one legal-size file cabinet drawer usually fit in two and one-half boxes.

Preparing the Box List

In order for you and the FRC to know what folders are in each box, you need to prepare a Box List which identifies the contents of each box. Begin the box list for each accession with your first box and note the box number followed by a listing of the folders in the box. Continue in the same way for the remaining boxes in the shipment. Following is an example of a good box list of file folders about cities:

Box 1 of 10 boxes

  1. Atlanta
  2. Boston
  3. Cleveland
  4. Detroit
  5. Evanston
  6. Fairfax

Box 2 of 10 boxes

  1. Galveston
  2. Houston
  3. Indianapolis
  4. (etc.)

Each file folder title should be listed to facilitate retrieval of individual files from boxes and to document exactly what folders were retired. Some programs attempt to shorten the procedure by using ranges of folder titles such as "A-F" or "Atlanta to Fairfax" instead of listing each title. This "range" method should only be used for files which are arranged in strict numerical or chronological order. Folders must be uniformly labeled or numbered. The range should be annotated to indicate that all folders are present in a run (inclusive) or which folders are missing, as in the following example:

Box 1: Contracts 1-31 (inclusive)
Box 2: Contracts 32-50 (Contract 39 not included)

You will need to make 5 copies of the completed box listing. These will be attached to the five copies of the Standard Form 135, Records Transmittal and Receipt Form (SF-135) described below.

Marking the Boxes

Once the records have been boxed and the box list completed, the boxes should be labeled in numerical order. As an example, if there are 8 boxes, the first box should be numbered 1/8, the second box 2/8, etc., with the last box being numbered 8/8. Write the Box Number in the upper right corner of the front side of each box. Always use a large permanent black felt tip marker to label the boxes. Do not tape top flaps closed. After files are placed in boxes, fold the top flaps closed, tucking the corners in so that they stay shut.

Completing the Forms to Retire Records

All records being retired to the FRC must be accompanied by a Standard Form 135, Records Transmittal and Receipt Form, commonly known as an SF-135. The SF-135 documents the physical transfer of the accession to the FRC and provides information such as the accession number, location, and box list.

Although the form is not difficult to complete, it must be filled out correctly for the records to be accepted. Besides your box list, you will need your FAA records disposition schedule to complete parts of this form.

After you have completed the SF-135, notify your program's Record Liaison Officer or his/her designated representative. The Record Liaison Officer or his/her designated representative must review and approve the SF-135, the box list, and box(es) before the records leave your office.

It normally takes from one to two weeks to process an SF-135 at the FRC.

After the records have been received by the FRC, the SF-135 located in the first box of the accession is retrieved and assigned a location number. The location number is placed in Column 6(j) on the SF-135, and sent back to the Records Officer. The Records Officer will send a copy of the SF-135 indicating the location number to the program's Records Management Officer, or the individual listed in Item 3 on the SF-135. The location number is used to retrieve the records from the FRC. Retrieving records/files is explained in the next chapter.