Records Managers

ERA Frequently Asked Questions

General ERA Questions

  1. What is ERA?
  2. Is my agency required to use ERA?
  3. How do users interact with ERA?
  4. Will my agency be able to conduct its internal review process within ERA?
  5. Does ERA contain electronic versions of Standard Form (SFs) 115 and 258 that my agency uses to schedule?

Answers - General ERA Questions

Q1:What is ERA?
[Ans] The ERA system enables agencies to interact with NARA online to perform certain records activities Agencies use ERA to submit records schedules to NARA, and to transfer permanent records to the National Archives of the United States.

Q2:Is my agency required to use ERA?
[Ans] Yes, see NARA Bulletin 2012-03. However, there are technical situations that must be handled outside of ERA. They are:

  • When an agency wants to transfer records to NARA using a permanent General Records Schedule (GRS) item as the disposition authority. However, this limitation does not apply when an agency transfer records as part of the Federal Records Centers annual move process.
  • When an agency wants to create a transfer request or a records schedule that includes classified information.
  • When an agency's network firewall is configured in such a way that it prevents ERA from establishing a connection with user's computers.

Q3: How do users interact with ERA?
[Ans] ERA is a role-based system. Users are assigned one or more roles depending on the tasks they are authorized to perform.  For example, a user authorized to create records schedules is assigned the Records Scheduler role. A user who is authorized to transfer permanent records to NARA is assigned the Transferring Official role.  Some users are assigned only one role, others are assigned multiple roles.  Users may perform only those tasks in ERA that are associated with their assigned roles.

Q4: Will my agency be able to conduct its internal review process within ERA?
[Ans] No.  Agencies cannot conduct its internal review (such as concurrences by the CFO, legal counsel, and other officials) using ERA.  ERA allows you to save or print a PDF copy of the electronic form that you can send to, or share with, internal reviewers and approvers.  Note that there are agency approval steps for Transferring Official and Agency Approving Official in ERA, which might be included in an internal review process.  See the ERA User Manual for more detailed information.

Q5: Does ERA contain electronic versions of Standard Forms (SFs) 115 and 258 that my agency uses to schedule and transfer its records?
[Ans] These forms do not exist in ERA.  Instead, to schedule records, you need to complete a Records Schedule.  To transfer permanent records to NARA, you must complete and submit a Transfer Request.  ERA generates the Legal Transfer Instrument once the Transfer Request is placed in Physical Custody Accepted status by NARA. A NARA official will then approve the Legal Transfer Instrument, accepting legal custody. See the ERA User Manual and Cross Walk documents for more detailed information. 

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Getting Started:

  1. What does my agency need to do to start using ERA?
  2. Does NARA provide training about using ERA?
  3. Does my agency need to purchase specific software or computer hardware to use ERA?
  4. How do I connect to ERA?
  5. Can I access ERA from a non-agency computer, such as my personal computer?

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Answers - Getting Started

Q1: What does my agency need to start using ERA?
[Ans] First, your agency needs to appoint an ERA Account Manager. This person approves an individual’s access to ERA.  Your Records Officer must email the ERA Account Manager’s name and email address to ERAaccounts@nara.gov.
Next, determine who will perform the five ERA user roles. More than one person can perform a particular role.  One person may also perform many or all of the roles.  Remember that users will only be able to access the screens necessary for them to perform their assigned role(s).

ERA Roles
To schedule records:

  1. Records Schedule

Prepares records schedules and submits them to the Certifying Official for approval.

  1. Certifying Official

Certifies that the records schedule is ready to submit to NARA for approval. This role is equivalent to the Agency Certification (Box 6) on the SF 115, Request for Records Disposition Authority.

 To transfer permanent records to NARA:

  1. Transferring Official

Creates Transfer Requests and submits them to the Agency Approving Official for approval.

  1. Agency Approving Official

Approves Transfer Requests on behalf of the agency. This role is equivalent to Agency Approval (Box 2A)on the SF 258, Agreement to Transfer Records to the National Archives of the United States.

  1. Electronic Transfer Staff

Packages and sends electronic files to ERA. Contact Etransfers@nara.gov for further information about this role.

Training

Once the roles have been assigned, users must complete the ERA online training. The training must be completed before users can submit an ERA Account Request Form (NA 3070) to NARA. Go here to access the training.

ERA User Account Request

After users have completed the ERA online training, they need to request an ERA user account. To request an account, complete and submit the ERA Account Request Form (NA 3070).  NARA’s ERA Accounts Office will review the request and forward it to the applicable agency ERA Account Manager. If the request is approved by the agency ERA Account Manager, NARA’s ERA Help Desk contacts the user and provides a user ID and a temporary password. To use ERA, log into ERA and create a permanent password. Please note that a user must change their password every 90 days.
See Getting Started with ERA for more information.

Q2: Does NARA provide training about using ERA?
[Ans] NARA provides online training that covers major functions in ERA:  scheduling and transferring electronic and non-electronic records to NARA.  NARA also has a variety of helpful user guides and crosswalks on the ERA website, notices about periodic boot camps, and video FAQs.

Q3: Does my agency need to purchase specific software or computer hardware to use ERA?
[Ans] No.  ERA is a web-based system.  All you need to access it is an internet connection.  ERA supports Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (through version 10), and Mozilla Firefox web browsers.  You may need to adjust your browser settings and add the ERA URLs to your list of allowed sites.  For more information, contact the ERA Help Desk at 877-372-9594 or ERAHelp@nara.gov.

Q4: How do I connect to ERA?
[Ans] First, you must have an ERA user account.  Next you need to have your IT department provide the ERA Help Desk with its public facing IP address.  For additional guidance or assistance, contact the ERA Help Desk at 877-372-9594 or ERAHelp@nara.gov.

Q5: Can I access ERA from a non-agency computer, such as my personal computer?
[Ans] ERA can only be accessed from authorized agency computers. If your agency has a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you may be able to access ERA remotely using a non-agency computer. Please contact your IT support help desk for further information.

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Scheduling Records

  1. What types of records schedules can be created in ERA?
  2. Can users track schedule review and approval status in ERA?
  3. Can users track changes to draft records schedules in ERA?
  4. Can I revise a schedule in ERA after it’s been submitted to NARA?
  5. Can I revise a schedule in ERA after it’s been approved by NARA?

Answers - Scheduling Records

Q1:What types of records schedules can be created in ERA?
[Ans] All records schedules can be created in ERA except schedules which contain national security classified information.

Q2: Can users track schedule review and approval status in ERA?
[Ans] You can set up your ERA user profile to receive email notifications of certain scheduling and appraisal actions that take place in ERA (e.g., when a schedule is awaiting certification, when it is submitted for certification, and when it is approved). 
To set up notifications, select "Yes" next to "Receive Notification in ERA Portal."
To receive notifications via email, select "Yes" next to "Receive Notifications by Email." 
To set up and receive task notifications via email, select "Yes" next to "Receive Tasks by Email."
Whether you receive notifications or not, your appraisal archivist will send you monthly reports that provide the current status of your schedules. 

Q3: Can users track changes to draft records schedules in ERA?
[Ans] No.  The records schedule is a field-based form that does not track changes.

Q4: Can I revise a schedule in ERA after it’s been submitted to NARA?
[Ans] Yes.  Upon request, your appraisal archivist can return the schedule for revision.

Q5:Can I revise a schedule in ERA after it’s been approved by NARA?
[Ans] No.  Once your schedule has been approved by NARA, all changes must be made by your appraisal archivist.  Your agency’s concurrences to the changes are documented in the appraisal dossier.

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Transferring Records

  1. What digital formats can be used to transfer permanent records to ERA?
  2. What media should my agency use to send electronic records to NARA?
  3. Has the accessioning process changed?
  4. Can ERA be used to transfer permanent records stored in Federal Records Centers (FRCs)?

Answers - Transferring Records

Q1: What digital formats can be used to transfer permanent records to ERA?
[Ans] Although ERA is designed to manage and preserve digital records regardless of format, we require you to follow NARA's transfer guidelines.  For permanent records in digital formats other than those listed in the guidelines, contact Etransfers@nara.gov, or go to Accessioning Electronic Records.

Q2: What media should my agency use to send electronic records to NARA?
[Ans] Agencies may transfer electronic records on magnetic tape, compact disk-read only memory (CD-ROM), digital versatile disc-read only memory (DVD-ROM), external hard drive, and via file transfer protocol (FTP), in accordance with 36 CFR 1235.46. Please contact your NARA electronic records archivist to discuss other options or limitations. For more information, contact your NARA electronic records archivist for your agency, or send an email to Etransfers@nara.gov or go to Accessioning Electronic Records.

Q3: Has the accessioning process changed?
[Ans] Yes. Two ERA business objects (forms) replace the Standard Form 258: Transfer Request and Legal Transfer Instrument. Your agency must complete and submit the Transfer Request before the records are transferred.  The Legal Transfer Instrument is generated once the Transfer Request is placed in Physical Custody Accepted status by NARA. A NARA official will then approve the Legal Transfer Instrument, accepting legal custody.

Q4: Can ERA be used to transfer permanent records stored in Federal Records Centers (FRCs)?
[Ans] Yes.NARA provides federal agencies draft Transfer Requests for records that are eligible for the next routine transfer (usually done annually) for records stored in FRCs. See the ERA Home Page for further information.

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Tips for Using ERA

  1. I tried to log in to ERA and received this error message "Concurrent login is not allowed." Why did I get this message?
  2. Is there a size limit for files attached to ERA business objects (forms)?

Answers - Tips for Using ERA

Q1: I tried to log in to ERA and received this error message "Concurrent login is not allowed." Why did I get this message?
[Ans] Closing a window does not end your ERA session. The only way to end your session is to log out.  If you close a window instead of logging out, please call the ERA Help Desk at 877-372-9594 to have your original session terminated.

Q2: Is there a size limit for files attached to ERA business objects (forms)?
[Ans] Yes.  Attachments to ERA business objects (forms) should be no larger than 95 MB.  Split attachments over 95 MB into smaller files to accommodate this restriction. 

Updated: July 02, 2015

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