DIRECTOR'S ORDER #19: RECORDS MANAGEMENT
Effective Date: January 17, 2001
Sunset Date: January 17, 2005
NPS-19, Records Management" is rescinded and superseded by this Director’s Order, the Records Retention Schedule and the accompanying Records Management Handbook.
Table of Contents
1.1 This Director’s Order, and its accompanying Records Management Handbook and Records Retention Schedule, describe NPS activities and standards in maintaining and providing access to records at all levels of the Service.
1.2 As an agency of the federal government, the National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for managing its records responsibly and according to law and regulation. Records are all documentary materials, including books, electronic data, maps, moving images, papers, photographs and sound recordings, made or received by the National Park Service during the transaction of public business. The NPS also has a strong business need for excellent records management, since the mission of the National Park Service is to care for natural and cultural resources so that they are "unimpaired" for future generations. This requirement for managing resources in perpetuity sets a high standard for record keeping, as no resources can be managed well in the future without complete records of how they were managed in the past. Because the National Park system manages some of America's most significant cultural and natural resources, the public also has a significant interest in our records. The Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) sets goals for cultural and natural resources management regarding collection and use of information for decision-making, which require the long-term management of that information. The NPS 2001 Management Policies state that the future of the Service depends on the availability, management, dissemination, and preservation of information, and directs the Service to implement professional quality programs to manage information resources.
2. Authorities and Related Guidance
2.1 The general authority for issuing this Director’s Order is contained in 16 USC 1 through 4, and 16 USC 6 and the delegation of authority contained in Part 245 of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Manual (the Departmental Manual).
2.2 The Federal Records Act, as amended, is the basic law regarding federal government recordkeeping responsibilities and activities (44 USC 2901-2909; 3101-3107; 3301-3324). Records are defined in 44 USC 3301. By law, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has government-wide responsibility for records management, and retains the ultimate authority over disposal of records. NARA regulations that govern agency recordkeeping activities, including those of the NPS, are contained in 36 CFR Chapter XII, Subchapter B. Part 380 of the Departmental Manual contains DOI guidance on records management.
2.3 The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act form the basic legal framework regarding release and protection of non-classified records (5 USC 552). DOI FOIA Regulations are contained in 43 CFR Part 2, Subparts A and B (FOIA) and D (Privacy). Additional guidelines can be found in Public Law 105-391 (the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998).
2.4 Regulations on vital records are contained in 36 CFR 1236. Part 380, Chapter 6 of the Departmental Manual contains DOI guidance on vital records. Additional guidance on vital records may be found in departmental guidance on continuity of operations plans.
2.5 NPS guidance related to museum-held archival records and manuscript collections is contained in Director's Order 24, "NPS Museum Collections Management" and its accompanying guidance, the Museum Handbook (Parts I-III).
2.6 Numerous other NPS Director’s Orders contain information or procedures with regards to specific types of records.
3.1 The Associate Director for Administration is responsible for records management activities in the NPS. The Associate Director for Administration, or his or her designee, serves as the NPS Records Officer. The Associate Director for Administration, or his or her designee, also serves as the Vital Records Manager for the NPS.
3.2 The NPS Records Officer is responsible for maintenance of the NPS Records Retention Schedule and the NPS records management handbook. The NPS Records Officer acts as liaison with NARA and disseminates all relevant instructions and guidance from NARA to the rest of the Service.
3.3 The Associate Director for Cultural Resources, Stewardship and Partnerships is responsible for the archival programs of the National Park Service and sets archival and manuscript collections standards and policies service-wide. This includes determining what park records are accessioned into park archives.
3.4 Associate and Regional Directors are responsible for carrying out records management activities within their jurisdiction as described in this Order.
3.5 Superintendents, center managers and the heads of central offices are responsible for carrying out records management activities within their jurisdiction as described in this Order.
3.6 Superintendents, center managers and the heads of central offices are responsible for ensuring that all mission critical and other permanent records, while in the custody of the NPS, receive appropriate archival care.
3.7 Superintendents, center managers and the heads of central offices are responsible for ensuring that all records, while in the custody of the NPS, are regularly accessible to the public as required by, and within the constraints of, the law.
3.8 Superintendents, center managers and the heads of central offices are responsible for ensuring that their employees are familiar with basic records management responsibilities and procedures.
3.9 It is the responsibility of every NPS employee to ensure that they (1) are familiar with basic records management responsibilities, including the difference between personal and government records, and (2) follow the basic records management processes of their office, ensuring the integrity of the records.
4. General Records Management Requirements
4.1 The NPS Records Retention Schedule, as approved by NARA, set general Service-wide guidance for records retention. All NPS records must be retained for the amount of time specified by the NPS Records Retention Schedule.
4.2 Individual offices, programs, and parks are encouraged to propose changes and refinements to the NPS Records Retention Schedule as appropriate for their business needs. These changes are subject to the approval of NARA. The NPS Records Officer will coordinate the submission of all records schedule changes to NARA.
4.3 NPS offices and park units may obtain records management, reproduction and storage services from other NPS units, from other government agencies (including NARA), or from private vendors, as long as those services meet all NARA and NPS standards and requirements as applicable.
4.4 Records and data that are collected, created or generated by other organizations working for the NPS under contracts, interagency agreements, cooperative agreements or other agreement instruments with the NPS, are considered NPS records unless the contract or agreement specifically states otherwise. All partnership agreements, contracts or other agreement instruments should clearly state this. Copies or originals of all project documents and data generated under these agreements should be obtained and retained by the NPS office managing the project.
4.5 Contracts, interagency agreements, and cooperative agreements and similar agreement instruments should address copyright issues of any material produced under the agreement. Copyright is not necessarily vested with the NPS unless specifically obtained under the terms of the contract or other agreement.
4.6 NPS records in the possession of individual employees are not the personal property of those employees and are to remain accessible to other employees unless restricted by law.
4.7 The Technical Information Center (TIC) at the Denver Service Center (DSC) serves as the central repository for selected NPS records regarding new construction projects, major renovation projects and major park planning and research. Parks and offices must submit to TIC copies of those documents that meet TIC’s current scope of collection as described in the NPS Records Management Handbook. This requirement applies whether or not DSC has direct involvement in the project.
4.8 The Land Resources National Program Center is the office of record for the acreage, interest and ownership for NPS land acquisitions. All land acquisition records and related records should be managed according to procedures established in Director's Order 25: Land Protection, and its accompanying reference material.
4.9 The Office of Reference Services at Harpers Ferry Center (HFC) serves as the central repository for the NPS for selected records regarding NPS agency history. Parks and offices must submit to HFC copies of those documents and photographs that meet HFC’s scope of collection as described in the NPS Records Management Handbook.
5. Mission Critical Records
5.1 Mission critical records are those records that are most necessary for fulfillment of the NPS mission. Mission critical records are permanent records that will eventually become archival records. They should receive the highest priority in records management activities and resources and should receive archival care as soon as practical in the life of the record.
5.2 Mission critical records include:
6. Records Media
6.1 Permanent records must be kept in accepted media formats that meet NPS standards as expressed in the Records Management Handbook and NARA regulations.
6.2 Electronic Records
While electronic records are commonplace in the business life of the Service, the management of those records is difficult. Consequently, an electronic or digital recordkeeping system may be used as the primary recordkeeping system only under the following circumstances:
In all other circumstances, traditional media of paper, photography, film, microfiche and magnetic recordings, all of which must meet NARA requirements, must be used for archival storage.
6.3 All new electronic information management systems, and major revisions of existing systems, must address records management requirements in their system functional requirements and implementation, according to guidance set forth in the NPS Records Management Handbook.
7. Standards for the Care of Records
7.1 All records should be stored in areas that have the lowest possible risk of damage to the records. Records are most vulnerable to damage from water, high temperatures, humidity and pest infestations. They should not be stored in areas where these are known to be problems. The Records Management Handbook contains further guidance on records storage.
7.2 Storage containers and facilities for mission critical and other permanent records must follow standards set forth in the NPS Records Management Handbook. These requirements apply to any storage areas, whether within NPS-owned facilities, or facilities owned by outside organizations (private, other agencies, etc.).
8. Standards for Records Accessibility
8.1 Records created and maintained within the National Park Service should be locatable and available during regular hours to the extent necessary to:
8.2 Summary information will be posted on the World Wide Web for all mission critical records, and all records of any type that are owned or managed by the NPS, but are stored outside of NPS facilities.
9. Filing Practices
9.1 Standard file codes are set for the NPS by the Records Retention Schedule. NPS offices and units are free to add more levels of detail to the Records Retention Schedule file codes as needed to meet their business needs and to facilitate records accessibility.
9.2 There is no Service-wide overall standard for file location; i.e., the use of central files or any other particular filing system is not required. However, filing should not be random, haphazard, or handled solely by individual employees. NPS offices and units should develop and document filing systems as part of an overall records management process to meet their business needs, and to facilitate fulfilling their records management responsibilities, with particular attention to the Standards of Accessibility (section 8, above).
9.3 Files should be created and maintained for managed natural and cultural resources, and/or projects associated with the management of resources. These project-based and resource-based files should contain copies of all records that document activities that are part of the project or affect the resource, even if those records are otherwise temporary records. In particular, hard copies of contracts, concession agreements and special use permits are part of project and resource files.
9.4 Records that are considered temporary in administrative files, such as contracts, concession records, and permits, are considered permanent if they are included as part of a permanent file, and should not be "purged" or otherwise removed from those permanent record files.
10. Retention of Records in NPS Archives
10.1 Permanent records that are in active use may be retained in NPS archives, as long as those archives meet standards set forth in the Museum Handbook.
10.2 When required archival standards and conditions cannot be met in NPS locations, permanent records must be transferred to the National Archives. See the Records Management Handbook.
11. FOIA, Privacy Act
11.1 All records under NPS control are subject to FOIA and other legally required searches (such as court discovery searches) as long as they remain in legal custody and control of the NPS, regardless of location.
11.2 Records containing information that describes or can be used to identify an individual, and can be retrieved by personal identifier information, may be subject to the Privacy Act. All records that meet the legal definition of a Privacy Act system of records must be adequately protected according to law and regulation. Records within a Privacy Act system of records must be destroyed promptly at the end of their retention period as defined by the NPS Records Retention Schedule.
12. Vital Records
12.1 Vital records are defined in law as those records that are essential to the functioning of an organization during and right after an emergency, and also those records essential to the preservation of legal rights and responsibilities of citizens and the government, such as legal records and land titles. All parks and NPS units must address vital records in their Continuity of Operations Plans and Emergency Operations Plans.
12.2 Superintendents and the heads of central offices are responsible for ensuring that all vital records in their custody and needed for emergency operations in their jurisdiction, are handled in accordance with departmental vital records procedures as described by the Vital Records Program chapter of the Departmental Manual (Section 380, Chapter 6).
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