United States Department of the Interior

                                   FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 
                                               Washington, D.C. 20240


October 13, 1999

In Reply Refer To:


To:                All Fish and Wildlife Service Employees

From:            Deputy Director    /sgd/ John G. Rogers

Subject:       Reminder - Use of Electronic Mail and Management of Electronic Records

We are well into the electronic age where our use of email is common and most of our files are generated via computers. All of us need to practice good records management so that our records accurately document Government business and we can respond consistently to inquiries. You must:

Director's Order 103 (Electronic Mail and Management of Electronic Records) outlines your responsibilities as managers, supervisors, or employees and provides guidance on the appropriate use of email. Our email system may not be used, directly or indirectly, to influence action on legislation, including appropriations legislation.

Director's Order 103 also gives the definition of a record and provides examples of types of records that should be preserved as well as nonrecords that may be destroyed. 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, which have been adopted for Department of the Interior use. Additional guidance on electronic records is contained in 282 FW 4 (Electronic Records) and a September 10, 1999, memorandum from the Department's Chief Information Officer. Please take a moment to review all of this guidance as well as other information available at our records management website: http://pdm.fws.gov/recman.html.

You are responsible for properly handling and preserving electronic records. While the Division of Information Resources Management recommends that system and email administrators maintain backup tapes for 3 months, the tapes are not and should not be used for recordkeeping purposes. 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.

The issues involved in handling and preserving electronic records are numerous and present new challenges. The Division of Policy and Directives Management and the Division of Information Resources Management will continue to work together to find solutions. If you have any questions on the appropriate use of the email system, please contact William T. Brooks, Chief, Division of Information Resources Management, at 703-358-1729. If you need help in determining whether or not your email message is an official record or if you have any questions regarding electronic records or other records management procedures, please contact your Regional records management officer or Johnny Hunt, Service Records Management Officer, Division of Policy and Directives Management, at 703-358-2504.

For additional information about this Web page, contact Krista Bibb, in the Division of Policy and Directives Management. 

Directives Home

PDM Web sites: Centralized Library of Servicewide Policies | FWS Forms | PDM Services

Privacy, Disclaimer and Copyright Information | Information Quality Act

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior  | USA.gov  | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  | Accessibility  | Privacy  | Notices  | Disclaimer  | FOIA