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PDM's Records Management Page
Frequently Asked Questions
What are my responsibilities for managing my email?

    It is the responsibility of each Fish and Wildlife Service employee to determine if the message meets the definition of a record (see definition and criteria below).  If so, then:

  • Print out the message and any attachments plus the essential transmission data.  Essential transmission date is the author, transmittal date, all message recipients, and subject.
  • File the paper copy of the record with all related paper records in the office recordkeeping system.
  • Delete the email message from your email system on a timely basis.
What is a record?

    44 U.S.C. 3301 defines records as all books, papers, maps, photographs, machine readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics that are:

        (1) made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business, and

        (2) preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successors as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of data in them.

What is a nonrecord?

       Nonrecords are informational material that does not meet the definition of a record; e.g., extra copies of documents kept for convenience; reference stocks of publications; blank forms, formats, or form letters; documents that do not contain unique information or that were not circulated for formal approval, comment, or action; or documents that provide no evidence of agency functions and activities.

Are there criteria for determining whether or not a document is a record?

      As a guide for determining whether or not a document, such as an email message, meets the statutory definition of a record, the Department of Justice applies 10 criteria.  In IRM Bulletin 1999-001, February 1999, the Department adopted the criteria for Department of the Interior use.  If the email or other document meets any of the following criteria, it is considered a record and should be preserved using established procedures:

  • It contains unique, valuable information developed in preparing position papers, reports, studies, etc.
  • It reflects significant actions taken in the course of conducting Department of the Interior (Service) business.
  • It conveys unique, valuable information about Department of the Interior (Service) programs, policies, decisions, or essential actions.
  • It conveys statements of policy or the rationale for decisions or actions.
  • It documents oral exchanges (in person or by telephone), during which policy is formulated or other Department of the Interior (Service) activities are planned or transacted.
  • It adds to the proper understanding of the formulation or execution of Department of the Interior (Service) actions or of Department of the Interior (Service) operations and responsibilities.
  • It documents important meetings.
  • It facilitates action by Department of the Interior (Service) officials and their successors in office.
  • It makes possible a proper scrutiny by the Congress or other duly authorized agencies of the Government.
  • It protects the financial, legal, and other rights of the Government and of persons directly affected by the Government's actions.
If you need help to determine whether or not your document is an official record, contact your Regional records management officer or Johnny Hunt, Division of Policy and Directives Management, 703-358-2504.

Are electronic records releasable under the Freedom of Information Act?

       Email messages and attachments, word processing files, database files, spreadsheets, and all other electronic files are subject to release in litigation and under the Freedom of Information Act.  You may not delete any email messages that are (1) the subject of active FOIA requests, congressional requests, or litigation, or (2) part of an administrative record (e.g., rule, permits) until you print out the message, including the essential transmission data and all attachments, and file it in your official paper recordkeeping system.  Essential transmission data includes author, transmittal date, all message recipients, and subject.

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