Removal or Destruction of Official Records

283 FW 4
FWM Number
Originating Office
Information Resources and Technology Management

4.1 Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to present information on unauthorized removal, destruction, or loss of Federal records.

4.2 Policy. All official records will be protected against loss, unauthorized destruction or modification, and illegal removal from the Service in order to ensure adequate documentation of organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions.

4.3 Responsibilities

A. Director is responsible for informing subordinate officials and employees of the requirements of Federal law concerning records held in their custody and the criminal penalties that are attached to the unlawful removal, modification, or destruction of the Service's records. The Director will also notify the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of any actual, impending or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, altering, or destruction of records in the custody of the agency in accordance with 44 U.S.C. 3106.

B. Service Directorate are responsible for ensuring appropriate internal controls and safeguards are in place to prevent the loss or alienation of official records. They will also report any such incidences covered by this chapter to the Director.

C. Chief, Division of Information Resource Management and Regional IRM Coordinators are responsible for adequate system and physical security for official records which are electronic and fall within their purview.

D. Service Records Officer and Regional Records Coordinators are responsible for ensuring the standards contained in approved records schedules are available to employees and for providing information necessary to educate employees about unauthorized removal or destruction of official records.

E. Service employees are responsible for reporting their knowledge of any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration or destruction of the Service's official records.

4.4 Definitions.

A. Official records (records) As defined by 44 U.S.C. 3301, all books, papers, maps, photographs, machine readable materials, or other documentary material regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successors as evidence of the organizations functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of data in them.

B. Personal records are records of a private or nonofficial character that pertain only to an individual's personal affairs. Personal records should be clearly designated and should be maintained separately from agency records.

C. Nonrecord material is extra copies of documents preserved solely for convenience or reference. They are generally not agency originals. However, copies may be deemed records if the original has been lost or damaged; or if the copies are needed as supporting documentation for an original document.

4.5 Procedures

A. Official records (records) may only be removed from the Service under the conditions outlined in 283 FW 3.

B. Personal records may, of course, be removed without objection. However, personal records which contain agency business will have that portion extracted and made part of the Service's records.

C. Nonrecord material may be removed providing their removal does not diminish the records of the Service or violate confidentiality required by privacy or other interests protected by law.

4.6 Reporting missing or unauthorized destruction of records is the responsibility of all employees. Employees should notify the Service Records Officer or their Regional Records Coordinator if they witness any actual, impending or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, or destruction of records in their custody. The head of a bureau shall report such finding to the NARA. The report should include the following.

A. A complete description of the records with volume and dates if known;

B. Identification of the office of origin and/or custody;

C. A statement of the exact circumstances surrounding the alienation, defacing, modification, or destruction of the records; and

D. A statement of the safeguards with specific procedures to be instituted to prevent further instances of loss of documentation.

4.7 Penalties for Removal or Destruction of Official Records. The maximum penalty for the unlawful destruction, damage, or alienation of Federal records is a $2,000 fine, 3 years in prison or both (18 U.S.C. 2071).