Records Managers

NARA Bulletin 2012-03

August 21, 2012

TO: Heads of Federal Agencies

SUBJECT:Instructions Concerning the Use of the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) for Scheduling Records and Transferring Permanent Records to the National Archives

EXPIRATION DATE: August 31, 2015

1. What is the purpose of this Bulletin?
This Bulletin informs Federal agencies that, beginning October 1, 2012, NARA will use the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) for scheduling records and transferring permanent records to the National Archives.

2. Why is NARA using ERA for scheduling records and transferring permanent records to the National Archives?
ERA includes an information management system designed to allow federal agencies to perform critical records management transactions with NARA online. Agency records management staff will use ERA to draft new records retention schedules for records in any format, officially submit those schedules for approval by NARA, request the transfer of permanent records in any format to the National Archives for accessioning or pre-accessioning, and submit electronic records for storage in the ERA electronic records repository.

The use of ERA benefits NARA and Federal agencies in many ways. ERA reduces paperwork by eliminating the paper Standard Form 115, Request for Disposition Authority (SF 115), and Standard Form 258, Agreement to Transfer Records to the National Archives of the United States (SF 258), expedites transactions by automating the forms submission and approval process, allows agencies to organize their work better and attach supporting documentation to their submissions, allows NARA to link Transfer Requests of permanent records to the electronically produced schedule, and provides greater process transparency. Agencies will be able to track the progress of their transactions through email updates or logging on to the system. NARA and agency use of ERA also supports the Presidential Memorandum on Managing Government Records' (November 28, 2011) goal of transitioning to an electronic records management system. For more information on ERA, please see http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/era/ and http://www.archives.gov/era/.

3. How do agencies create and submit new records schedules using ERA?
Authorized users of ERA will create a Records Schedule in ERA, forward it to an approving official, and submit it electronically to NARA. The Records Schedule may be a new schedule or a modification of an existing records schedule approved on a SF 115. NARA reviews the Records Schedule in ERA and approves or rejects it. If approved in ERA, the disposition instructions in the Records Schedule are mandatory. Agencies may elect to receive an email notification that a Records Schedule has been approved by the Archivist of the United States or obtain the information by logging on to ERA.

4. How do agencies send permanent records to NARA using ERA?

Authorized users of ERA will create a Transfer Request in ERA, forward it to an approving official, and submit it to NARA electronically. NARA reviews the Transfer Request in ERA, and approves or rejects it. If approved, NARA will coordinate with the agency for the delivery of the records. The records may exist in any form, e.g., paper, audio-visual formats, or electronic. Agencies may elect to receive an email notification regarding the status of the Transfer Request or obtain the information by logging on to ERA.

When NARA takes physical custody of the records documented on a Transfer Request, ERA automatically creates a Legal Transfer Instrument. The Legal Transfer Instrument formally conveys legal custody of the records to NARA once the accessioning process is complete.

5. How does an agency staff member become an authorized user of ERA?
To become an authorized user of ERA, an agency staff member must first be trained and then submit an ERA User Account Request.

Electronic submission of the form routes it to the ERA Accounts staff, who will confirm the request with the ERA Account Manager at the agency. After confirmation, ERA staff will create an account profile and contact the authorized ERA user with his or her user name and temporary password. The authorized user may change the temporary password to a permanent password after logging on to the system for the first time.

6. How does an agency designate an ERA Account Manager?
The Agency Records Officer sends an email to NARA's ERA Account Manager at ERAaccounts@nara.gov giving the name and contact information of the ERA Account Manager for the agency.

7. What are the roles in ERA and how does the agency determine who will perform them?
Each user is assigned system roles that allow them to perform certain functions within ERA. The ERA Account Manager typically identifies who in the agency will perform ERA roles.

  • Scheduling Records
    • Records Scheduler - This role should be assigned to users who will be preparing records schedules and submitting them to the Certifying Official for approval.
    • Certifying Official - This role should be assigned to users who will be certifying that the agency is officially submitting a Records Schedule to NARA for approval. The paper equivalent of this role is the person who signs in Box 6 of the paper Request for Records Disposition Authority (SF 115).
  • Transferring Permanent Records to NARA
    • Transferring Official - This role should be assigned to users who will create Transfer Requests and submit them to the Agency Approving Official for approval.
    • Agency Approving Official - This role should be assigned to users who have authority to approve Transfer Requests and Legal Transfer Instruments on behalf of the agency. The paper equivalent of this role is the person who signs in Box 2A of the paper Agreement to Transfer Records to the National Archives of the United States (SF 258).
    • Electronic Transfer Staff - This role is for electronic records transfers only, this role should be assigned to users who will package and transmit electronic files to ERA via an electronic transfer method.

8. Will NARA update the Code of Federal Regulations instructions and other NARA publications related to the use of the SF 115 and SF 258?
Yes, NARA will revise the Code of Federal Regulations and other publications and include instructions regarding using ERA for scheduling and transferring permanent records to NARA. After October 1, 2012, and until NARA issues the CFR revisions, agencies should follow the instructions in this Bulletin.

9. What other resources are available?
NARA has other resources to help agencies learn how to use ERA.

  • ERA boot camps - In ERA boot camps, NARA staff show participants how to use the system for scheduling and transferring permanent records to NARA and give users the opportunity to use the system. You may enroll in the camps by going to http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/era/ and clicking on "ERA Boot Camp training." Space in ERA boot camps may be limited.
  • ERA webinars - One-hour webinars on how to get started using ERA include instructions on how to nominate an ERA Account Manager, assign ERA roles to users, obtain training, acquire user accounts, and the technical aspects of connecting to ERA. Please contact ERAtraining@nara.gov to request further information on upcoming webinars.
  • ERA Help Desk - The ERA Help Desk answers technical questions and resolves problem related to using ERA. The ERA Help Desk is available during the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET at 877-372-9594 or ERAHelp@nara.gov.
  • NARA Staff - The appraisal and accessioning staff that work with your agency can answer questions about using ERA for scheduling records and transferring permanent records to NARA.

10. Where do I get further information?
Agency staff should contact their agency records officer. A list of agency records officers can be found on the NARA web site at http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/agency/officers-lists.html . Your agency's records officer may contact the NARA appraisal archivist with whom your agency normally works. The list of the appraisal contacts is posted on the NARA web site at http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/appraisal/.

PAUL M. WESTER, JR.
Chief Records Officer for the
U.S. Government

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