Electronic Records Glossary

282 FW 4
Originating Office
Information Resources and Technology Management

ASCII. The American Standard Code of Information Interchange. Documents saved as ASCII files contain only text, and no software specific codes, fonts or formats.

BIT. The smallest unit of information (normally either a 0 or a 1) recognizable by a computer. A combination of binary digit.

Byte. The number of bits that represents a character to a computer, normally 8 bits.

Block. A grouping of data stored as a unit on an external storage medium and dealt with as a unit by the computer for input or output.

Code. A set of rules to convert data to a form that computers can process. Also called a computer code. Examples include ASCII and EBCDIC. (1) A computer program.

Codebook. A guidebook identifying and explaining the codes used in a computer file or database.

Compact Disc. A small optical disk on which text, data, sounds, visual images, and the like can be recorded digitally and then scanned, decoded, and transmitted by a laser beam to a computer monitor, television, or playback device.

Computer input microfilm. Microfilm containing data scanned and converted for direct input into a computer.

Computer output microfilm. Microfilm containing data converted and recorded directly from a computer. Generally used instead of hard copy printouts.

Computer system. A configuration, or working combination of hardware, software, and data communication devices.

CPU. Central Processing Unit, or in the personal computer the microprocessor or brain.

Data. Symbols or representations of facts of ideas that can be communicated, interpreted or processed by manual or automated means. Often associated with electronic data or with statistics or measurements.

Data base. A set of data, consisting of at least one data file, that is sufficient for a given purpose.

Data base management system. A software system used to access and retrieve data stored in a data base.

Data element. In electronic recordkeeping, a combination of characters or bytes referring to one separate item of information such as name, address, or age.

Data field. A specific area of an electronic record allocated for a particular category of data, usually one data element, such as name.

Data file. Related numeric, textual, or graphic information that is organized in a strictly prescribed format.

Direct access storage device. A storage device, such as a computer disk, that provides direct access to a particular data, in contrast a serial-, or sequential-, access storage device, such as a magnetic tape.

Documentation. (1) The act or process of substantiating by recording actions and or decisions. (2) Records required to plan develop , operate, maintain, and use electronic records and software. Included are systems specifications, file specifications, codebooks, record layouts, user guides, and output specifications.

DOS. An acronym for Disk Operating System - the system which manages all of the functions of a computer.

Electronic record. Any information that is recorded in a form that only a computer can process and that satisfies the definition of a Federal record in 44 U.S.C. 3301 (see also definitions for "record" and "nonrecord" in 280 FW 1.

Electronic records system. Any information system that produces, manipulates, or stores Federal records by using a computer.

Electronic recordkeeping. The creation, maintenance and use, and disposition of records created and stored by using a computer.

EBCDIC. Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code. A binary code representing each letter, number, or other symbol with a unique 8-bit code.

File. In electronic recordkeeping, an organized collection of related data arranged into records that are stored together and stored as a unit.

Finding aids. Indexes or other lists, whether manual or automated, that are designed to make it easier to locate relevant files or retrieve information.

Format. In electronic recordkeeping, the arrangement of data for computer input or output, such as the number and size of data fields in a logical record or the spacing and letter size used in a document.

Hard copy. Recorded information copied from a computer onto paper or some other durable surface, such as microfilm. To be distinguished from a temporary image an a display screen and from the electronic information an a magnetic tape or disk(ette) or in the computer's main memory.

Information system. The organized collection, processing, transmission, and dissemination of information in accordance with defined procedures, whether automated or manual. (See also Office of Management and Budget Circular No. A-130.

Inventory. A survey of agency records and nonrecord materials that is conducted primarily to develop records schedules and also to identify various records management problems, such as improper applications of recordkeeping technology.

LAN. Local Area Network, also known simply as network, is a configuration that allows several computers to talk to one another, access everyone's file and use the same printer.

Life cycle of records. The management concept that records pass through three stages: creation, maintenance and use, and disposition.

Local Area Network. See LAN.

Logical record. A collection of related data elements, referring to one person, place, thing or event, that are treated as a unit and have either a fixed or variable length.

Optical character recognition (OCR). A method of entering data into a computer by using an optical scanning device to read the contents of documents.

Optical disk. Also identified as "OD." A noncontact, random-access disk tracked by optical laser beams and used for mass storage and retrieval and digitized text and graphics. Information is recorded on a heat-sensitive material via a computer controlled laser beam which either melts the sensitive material or changes its color. This technology allows "reading" but not modification of large amounts of information making it suitable for short-term storage of high volume information for which active retrieval is a factor. Types include WORM (write once read many), CD-ROM (compact disc-read only memory), and compact disc-interactive).

Output records. In electronic recordkeeping, information generated by a computer and placed on an outside medium, such as paper, microform, or an electronic storage medium.

Processing files. In electronic, recordkeeping, those data files comprising the life cycle of most computerized records before the production of a particular master file. Includes work files, test files, input source files, intermediate input/output files, and valid transaction files.

Portability. An electronic storage medium that will run on equipment offered by multiple manufacturers and can be transferred from one medium to another.

Record layout. A diagram or list of the contents of a logical record describing each data field's informational content, length, and position.

Records schedule. A document providing authority for the final disposition of recurring or nonrecurring records. Also called records disposition schedule, records control schedule, records retention schedule, or schedule. Includes the SF I 1 5, the General Records Schedules, and the agency records schedule, which when completed becomes a comprehensive records schedule that also contains agency disposition instructions for nonrecord materials.

Sensitive information/Data. Any information or data which requires a degree of protection due to the risk and magnitude of loss or harm that could result from inadvertent or deliberate disclosure, alteration, or destruction of the data. This includes data affecting the mission of the Service and or the Department; personal data requiring protection under the Privacy Act; data contained in automated decision-making applications; financial data which could result in loss to the Government; proprietary data warranting special protective measures, and any other data the protection of which is determined to be in the best interest of the Government.

Software. The programs, procedures, and rules used to operate a computer.

Standard form 115. Request For Records Disposition Authority. The form used by Federal agencies to obtain disposition authority from NARA for records to which the General Records Schedules are inapplicable.

Text documents. Narrative or tabular documents, such as letters, memoranda, and reports in loosely prescribed form and format.

Write Once Read Many (WORM). Of or relating to a type of optical disk on which information can be recorded only once but from which it can be retrieved and read many times.