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Records Management by the Archivist of the United States

(44 U.S.C. Chapter 29)

§ 2901. Definitions

§ 2902. Objectives of records management

§ 2903. Custody and control of property

§ 2904. General responsibilities for records management

§ 2905. Establishment of standards for selective retention of records; security measures

§ 2906. Inspection of agency records

§ 2907. Records centers and centralized microfilming or digitization services

§ 2908. Regulations

§ 2909. Retention of records

§ 2910. Preservation of Freedmen’s Bureau records

§ 2911. Disclosure requirement for official business conducted using non-official electronic messaging acounts


§ 2901. Definitions

As used in this chapter, and chapters 21, 25, 31, and 33 of this title--

(1) the term “records” has the meaning given it by section 3301 of this title;

(2) the term “records management” means the planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting, and other managerial activities involved with respect to records creation, records maintenance and use, and records disposition in order to achieve adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transactions of the Federal Government and effective and economical management of agency operations;

(3) the term “records creation” means the production or reproduction of any record;

(4) the term “records maintenance and use” means any activity involving--

(A) location of records of a Federal agency;

(B) storage, retrieval, and handling of records kept at office file locations by or for a Federal agency;

(C) processing of mail by a Federal agency; or

(D) selection and utilization of equipment and supplies associated with records and copying;

(5) the term “records disposition” means any activity with respect to--

(A) disposal of temporary records no longer necessary for the conduct of business by destruction or donation;

(B) transfer of records to Federal agency storage facilities or records centers;

(C) transfer to the National Archives of the United States of records determined to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant continued preservation; or

(D) transfer of records from one Federal agency to any other Federal agency;

(6) the term “records center” means an establishment maintained and operated by the Archivist or by another Federal agency primarily for the storage, servicing, security, and processing of records which need to be preserved for varying periods of time and need not be retained in office equipment or space;

(7) the term “records management study” means an investigation and analysis of any Federal agency records, or records management practices or programs (whether manual or automated), with a view toward rendering findings and recommendations with respect thereto;

(8) the term “inspection” means reviewing any Federal agency’s records or records management practices or programs with respect to effectiveness and compliance with records management laws and making necessary recommendations for correction or improvement of records management;

(9) the term “servicing” means making available for use information in records and other materials in the custody of the Archivist, or in a records center--

(A) by furnishing the records or other materials, or information from them, or copies or reproductions thereof, to any Federal agency for official use, or to the public; or

(B) by making and furnishing authenticated or unauthenticated copies or reproductions of the records or other materials;

(10) the term “unauthenticated copies” means exact copies or reproductions of records or other materials that are not certified as such under seal and that need not be legally accepted as evidence;

(11) the term “National Archives of the United States” means those official records which have been determined by the Archivist of the United States to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant their continued preservation by the Federal Government, and which have been accepted by the Archivist for deposit in the Archivist’s custody;

(12) the term “Archivist” means the Archivist of the United States;

(13) the term “executive agency” shall have the meaning given such term by section 102 of title 40;

(14) the term “Federal agency” means any executive agency or any establishment in the legislative or judicial branch of the Government (except the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Architect of the Capitol and any activities under the direction of the Architect of the Capitol); and

(15) the term “Administrator” means the Administrator of General Services.

§ 2902. Objectives of records management

It is the purpose of this chapter, and chapters 21, 31, and 33 of this title, to require the establishment of standards and procedures to assure efficient and effective records management. Such records management standards and procedures shall seek to implement the following goals:

(1) Accurate and complete documentation of the policies and transactions of the Federal Government.

(2) Control of the quantity and quality of records produced by the Federal Government.

(3) Establishment and maintenance of mechanisms of control with respect to records creation in order to prevent the creation of unnecessary records and with respect to the effective and economical operations of an agency.

(4) Simplification of the activities, systems, and processes of records creation, maintenance, transfer and use.

(5) Judicious preservation and disposal of records.

(6) Direction of continuing attention on records from their initial creation to their final disposition, with particular emphasis on the prevention of unnecessary Federal paperwork and the transfer of records from Federal agencies to the National Archives of the United States in digital or electronic form to the greatest extent possible.

(7) Establishment and maintenance of such other systems or techniques as the Archivist considers necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter, and chapters 21, 31, and 33 of this title.

§ 2903. Custody and control of property

(a) The Archivist shall have immediate custody and control of the National Archives Building and its contents, and may design, construct, purchase, lease, maintain, operate, protect, and improve buildings used by him for the storage of records of Federal agencies in the District of Columbia and elsewhere.

(b) When the Archivist considers it to be in the public interest, the Archivist may charge and collect reasonable fees from the public for the occasional, non-official use of rooms and spaces, and services related to such use, in the buildings subject to this section. Fees collected under this subsection shall be paid into an account in the National Archives Trust Fund and shall be held, administered, and expended for the benefit and in the interest of the national archival and records activities administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, including educational and public program purposes.

§ 2904. General responsibilities for records management

(a) The Archivist shall provide guidance and assistance to Federal agencies with respect to ensuring adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transactions of the Federal Government and ensuring proper records disposition.

(b) The Archivist shall provide guidance and assistance to Federal agencies to ensure economical and effective records management by such agencies.

(c) In carrying out the responsibilities under subsections (a) and (b), respectively, the Archivist shall have the responsibility--

(1) to promulgate standards, procedures, and guidelines with respect to records management and the conduct of records management studies;

(2) to conduct research with respect to the improvement of records management practices and programs;

(3) to collect and disseminate information on training programs, technological developments, and other activities relating to records management;

(4) to establish such interagency committees and boards as may be necessary to provide an exchange of information among Federal agencies with respect to records management;

(5) to direct the continuing attention of Federal agencies and the Congress on the need for adequate policies governing records management;

(6) to conduct records management studies and, in the Archivist’s discretion, designate the heads of executive agencies to conduct records management studies with respect to establishing systems and techniques designed to save time and effort in records management;

(7) to conduct inspections or surveys of the records and the records management programs and practices within and between Federal agencies;

(8) to report to the appropriate oversight and appropriations committees of the Congress and to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in January of each year and at such other times as the Archivist deems desirable--

(A) on the results of activities conducted pursuant to paragraphs (1) through (7) of this section,

(B) on evaluations of responses by Federal agencies to any recommendations resulting from inspections or studies conducted under paragraphs (6) and (7) of this section, and

(C) to the extent practicable, estimates of costs to the Federal Government resulting from the failure of agencies to implement such recommendations.

(d) The Archivist shall promulgate regulations requiring all Federal agencies to transfer all digital or electronic records to the National Archives of the United States in digital or electronic form to the greatest extent possible.

§ 2905. Establishment of standards for selective retention of records; security measures

(a) The Archivist shall establish standards for the selective retention of records of continuing value, and assist Federal agencies in applying the standards to records in their custody. The Archivist shall notify the head of a Federal agency of any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, or destruction of records in the custody of the agency that shall come to the Archivist’s attention, and assist the head of the agency in initiating action through the Attorney General for the recovery of records unlawfully removed and for other redress provided by law. In any case in which the head of the agency does not initiate an action for such recovery or other redress within a reasonable period of time after being notified of any such unlawful action, the Archivist shall request the Attorney General to initiate such an action, and shall notify the Congress when such a request has been made.

(b) The Archivist shall assist the Administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in conducting studies and developing standards relating to record retention requirements imposed on the public and on State and local governments by Federal agencies.

§ 2906. Inspection of agency records

(a)(1) In carrying out the duties and responsibilities under this chapter, the Archivist (or the designee) may inspect the records or the records management practices and programs of any Federal agency for the purpose of rendering recommendations for the improvement of records management practices and programs and for determining whether the records of Federal agencies have sufficient value to warrant continued preservation or lack sufficient value to justify continued preservation. Officers and employees of such agencies shall cooperate fully in such inspections, subject to the provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection.

(2) Records, the use of which is restricted by law or for reasons of national security or the public interest, shall be inspected, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Archivist, subject to the approval of the head of the agency concerned or of the President.

(3) If the Archivist (or the designee) inspects a record, as provided in this subsection, which is contained in a system of records which is subject to section 552a of title 5, such record shall be--

(A) maintained by the Archivist, or such designee as a record contained in a system of records; or

(B) deemed to be a record contained in a system of records for purposes of subsections (b), (c), and (i) of section 552a of title 5.

(b) In conducting the inspection of agency records provided for in subsection (a) of this section, the Archivist (or the designee) shall, in addition to complying with the provisions of law cited in subsection (a)(3), comply with all other Federal laws and be subject to the sanctions provided therein.

§ 2907. Records centers and centralized microfilming or digitization services

The Archivist may establish, maintain, and operate records centers and centralized microfilming or digitization services for Federal agencies.

§ 2908. Regulations

Subject to applicable law, the Archivist shall promulgate regulations governing the transfer of records from the custody of one executive agency to that of another.

§ 2909. Retention of records

The Archivist may empower a Federal agency to retain records for a longer period than that specified in disposal schedules, and may withdraw disposal authorizations covering records listed in disposal schedules. The Archivist shall promulgate regulations in accordance with section 2104(a) of this title to implement this section.

§ 2910. Preservation of Freedmen’s Bureau records

The Archivist shall preserve the records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly referred to as the “Freedmen’s Bureau”, by using--

(1) microfilm technology for preservation of the documents comprising these records so that they can be maintained for future generations; and

(2) the results of the pilot project with the University of Florida to create future partnerships with Howard University and other institutions for the purposes of indexing these records and making them more easily accessibile to the public, including historians, genealogists, and students, and for any other purposes determined by the Archivist.

§ 2911. Disclosure requirement for official business conducted using non-official electronic messaging accounts

(a) IN GENERAL.—An officer or employee of an executive agency may not create or send a record using a non-official electronic messaging account unless such officer or employee—

(1) copies an official electronic messaging account of the officer or employee in the original creation or transmission of the record; or

(2) forwards a complete copy of the record to an official electronic messaging account of the officer or employee not later than 20 days after the original creation or transmission of the record.

(b) ADVERSE ACTIONS.—The intentional violation of subsection (a) (including any rules, regulations, or other implementing guidelines), as determined by the appropriate supervisor, shall be a basis for disciplinary action in accordance with subchapter I, II, or V of chapter 75 of title 5, as the case may be.

(c) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:

(1) ELECTRONIC MESSAGES.—The term ‘electronic messages’ means electronic mail and other electronic messaging systems that are used for purposes of communicating between individuals.

(2) ELECTRONIC MESSAGING ACCOUNT.—The term ‘electronic messaging account’ means any account that sends electronic messages.

(3) EXECUTIVE AGENCY.—The term ‘executive agency’ has the meaning given that term in section 105 of title 5.

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